Sam Allardyce: New Sunderland boss had doubts about job

Allardyce facing 'big challenge'

New Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce says he had reservations about taking the job on but the lure of the challenge convinced him to accept.

The 60-year-old succeeded Dick Advocaat on Friday, taking charge of a club lying 19th in the Premier League, five points from safety.

"It is in my blood. The challenge is something I need. It is almost an addiction," said Allardyce.

"Waking up and coming in here, it's not work really."

Allardyce is the 13th man to take charge of Sunderland on a permanent or caretaker basis in the last 13 years and is under no illusions over the size of the task.

Sam Allardyce's Premier League record
GamesWinDrawLossForAgainstWin %
West Ham11435285112915130.7

"It is a big challenge," he said. "Even at this early stage of the season it is clear we are in trouble.

"The fact that we have 30 games will be as important as anything else because it may take the vast majority of them to get safe. It can take such a long time to catch up.

"My job is hopefully not to get into that panic and fear zone where there are a few games left and if you don't win, you get relegated. I have some time now to try and sort that out as quickly as I can."

When asked if there were any reservations about taking on the job given the turnover of managers in recent years, Allardyce said: "Yes, I think there was."

But he stressed a "key element" of taking the job on was a belief he could work with owner Ellis Short to make the club successful.

"I'm not saying we're going to be friends, I'm not saying we're not going to disagree. But what I am saying is we're going to try and make the right decisions for the benefit of the club," he added.

'Newcastle is in the past'

Sam Allardyce
Sam Allardyce in action for Sunderland against Leicester in September 1980

This is Allardyce's third spell at Sunderland, following a season as a player in 1980-81 and another brief spell on the coaching staff under then manager Peter Reid in 1996.

More recently he had a brief spell as manager of the Black Cats' fierce local rivals, Newcastle, which lasted just eight months before he was sacked in January 2008.

"I want to be more successful than I have been in the past, that's for sure, and I want to stay a bit longer," said Allardyce.

"I didn't stay very long as a player, I didn't stay very long with Reidy because I got the Notts County job and I didn't stay very long at Newcastle, so I hope I stay a lot longer than that.

"Newcastle is in the past, it's all over. I'm a man for the future, not to dwell on the past. It happened.

"I have done pretty well since I have moved on, and now I am back up in the north-east to try to make Sunderland the best I possibly can."

Sunderland return for Reid?

Peter Reid
Peter Reid was Sunderland manager from 1995 to 2002

Former Sunderland manager Reid has been linked with a return to the Stadium of Light as part of the new manager's backroom team.

Allardyce admitted he had spoken to someone about becoming his number two but did not reveal their identity.

"I have a few irons in the fire," he said. "I have spoken to who I consider might be the number two.

"The people who are here are highly qualified. I want to see if they work to my methods and we get on. If that is the case, I hope we won't see too many changes."

Reuniting with Kevin Nolan?

Kevin Nolan and Sam Allardyce
Kevin Nolan (left) has played for Sunderland's fierce rivals Newcastle

Inevitably, Allardyce has been linked with a move for midfielder Kevin Nolan, who played under him and Bolton and West Ham and is now a free agent.

"I have to assess the squad, see what they can do and then take it from there," added Allardyce.

"Kevin and me go back a long way. If he is an addition that can give us something then I may choose to enter down that line."

International ambitions

Steve McClaren during his time as England boss
Sam Allardyce lost out on the England job to Steve McClaren, who is now Newcastle boss

Allardyce was interviewed by the Football Association to succeed Sven Goran Eriksson as England boss in 2006 but lost out to Steve McClaren.

Writing in his autobiography, which is being serialised in The Sun newspaper,external-link Allardyce said: "I should have got it and, as I'm a better manager now than I was then, I believe I should be in the running whenever it comes round again."

When questioned about the England job on Tuesday, he replied: "If I am doing exceptionally well when Roy [Hodgson] decides he doesn't want to be there, then I have got a chance."