Sam Allardyce will keep his game-plan as his simple as possible at Norwich City tomorrow after pledging not to “panic” at the prospect of a first Premier League relegation.
The Sunderland boss has been experimenting with various personnel and formations on the training ground ahead of this weekend’s pivotal encounter against drop rivals Norwich, including radical solutions for a game which the Black Cats realistically need to win.
Allardyce’s managerial record of never being relegated from the Premier League is in jeopardy, with defeat at Carrow Road almost certainly spelling the end of Sunderland’s hopes of remaining in the top flight.
But Allardyce has been in similarly precarious situations before during his stints at Bolton, Blackburn and West Ham, with experience teaching him to avoid over-complicating the instructions to his players tomorrow.
He said: “There’s no need for me to panic.
“We didn’t want to be in this situation, but we are.
“Who do we have to blame? Only ourselves.
“How can we get out of it? Only we can do it.
“We just have to play the simplest possible game that we can play, as well as we can play it.
“If we overcomplicate it, you put your nerve-ends on tether by getting edgy.
“We’ve got to make sure the mistakes come from the opposition.”
Allardyce has sparked a significant upturn in Sunderland’s performances over the last three months, yet that hasn’t corresponded with improved results after the Black Cats have continually squandered opportunities to add to their points tally.
The “what might have been” tales continue to grate on Allardyce, yet he has to force himself to consider what Sunderland can do to reverse their descent towards the Championship.
“It has upset me, yes,” he added.
“It has made my life very difficult in the last few weeks to think that we have failed in small moments of time.
“So many points have been lost in just a small amount of time that should have been won.
“You can talk about it, but too much talking about it puts pressure on.
“I have to balance the amount of times you talk about clean sheets and how well you’ve played.
“At the end, you have to keep a clear head and, for me, giving clear instructions is my job.”