Arsene Wenger has claimed that there aren’t many differences between he and Sam Allardyce ahead of today’s clash between Arsenal and Crystal Palace at The Emirates.
Perhaps there’s an element of worry from Arsene ahead of today’s Super Sunday meeting with Palace, given the frequency with which a new manager generates a positive reaction from his players but the above quotes don’t smack of thoughtless praise to tick a box. In truth, his words seem to suggest a genuine level of admiration for Allardyce’s achievements within the game, having adapted well to a variety of different challenges in the ever shifting landscape of the Premier League.
Of course, Sam now has a deeply ingrained reputation as a long-ball manager which he is unlikely to ever shift but in Wenger’s eyes, the former England boss’ approach is far more nuanced than many openly give him credit for. In truth, we probably shouldn’t be too surprised by the Frenchman’s comments, with Sam’s longevity despite severe scrutiny from all corners of the media likely to strike a chord in the Arsenal gaffer’s mind as he looks back on a decade or so of almost constant questions as to his own suitability for the role he currently occupies in North London.
It may seem like ancient history now but the team Allardyce managed to build at Bolton Wanderers is still held up by many inside the game as a rather stunning feat of man management and tactical nous, bedding the likes of Ivan Campo, Jay-Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff into a football club that few would have seen as being ripe for a continental overhaul at the time.
Whilst no one would be wise to suggest that his time at Palace will ever scale similar heights, his career has been one of almost constant success in his own sphere of influence; an achievement that has clearly not passed Arsenal long-serving boss by.
Who’d have thought it? Arsene Wenger and Sam Allardyce, two men cut from the same cloth.