Sunderland: Sam Allardyce can't guarantee Black Cats' survival

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce got 'itchy feet' to join Black Cats
Football Focus
Watch the full interview with Sam Allardyce on Football Focus this Saturday on BBC One at 11:30 GMT

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce is offering no guarantees about Premier League survival despite his impressive record of keeping clubs up.

Former Bolton, Blackburn, Newcastle and West Ham manager Allardyce has never been in charge of a side that has been relegated from the top flight.

Sunderland are 18th in the table, one point from safety.

"The first thing is to save them. I can't guarantee I'll do it but I'll try my best," Allardyce, 61, said.

"The next step will be to put this club on a stable footing in terms of success, which is what everyone sees in terms of my expertise - Bolton, Blackburn, West Ham.

"That is why I am here and if I have delivered in the past hopefully I can deliver at a big club like this."

Allardyce, who took charge of Sunderland on 9 October, has won two and lost three of his five games at the club.

His second victory came at Crystal Palace on Monday night - their first away win of the season.

'Difficult to bring players to the North East'

Allardyce plans to strengthen his squad in January to aid Sunderland's survival push, but fears some players may be put off from making a move by the club's position in the table.

He believes Sunderland's geographical location can make it difficult to convince players from overseas to make the move to the North East.

"It is not London," added Allardyce, who was speaking to BBC pundit Alan Shearer on Football Focus.

"There is London, Manchester and the rest is where they will go after that. It has been like that for as long as the Premier League has imported foreign players.

"At West Ham, if you talk to an agent they will tell you that London is the player's first choice."

Sunderland 'blessed with goalscorers'

Jermain Defoe
Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe, 33, has scored 242 goals in his career

If Allardyce struggles to bring in the players he wants in January, he has confidence in those at his disposal to ensure Sunderland remain in the Premier League.

Key to that will be the form of his strikers. Jermain Defoe scored his fourth league goal of the season against Palace, moving him onto the same number as strike partner Steven Fletcher.

Allardyce has also been able to call upon the exciting talent of 21-year-old forward Duncan Watmore.

"I am blessed with goalscorers," said Allardyce.

"My job is basically to make this squad perform better on a consistent basis. There is the experience there to get us out of trouble."

'I'm a manager, not head coach'

Dick Advocaat
Sam Allardyce replaced Dutchman Dick Advocaat, who had been the club's third head coach in a row after Gus Poyet and Paolo di Canio

Allardyce is the fourth person to take full charge of Sunderland in just two years, with the Black Cats hierarchy having struggled to find the right person to turn the club into an established Premier League side, rather than one fighting for survival each season.

For Allardyce, though, there was a significant difference about his appointmentexternal-link compared with some of those before him.

"I'm not a head coach," he added. "I am a manager and that is a good start. I have to manage this club. Working together with the chairman Ellis Short and the rest of the team will be critical."