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New Black Cats boss Sam Allardyce up for Sunderland ‘challenge’

| 14.10.2015

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has described the ‘challenge’ of saving the Black Cats from Premier League relegation as “something I need” at his official unveiling on Wearside.

Big Sam, who is 11/4 with Coral (shortened from 7/2) to keep the Stadium of Light side up, faces a first home game in charge in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Sunday, October 25th against bitter Tyneside rivals and former club Newcastle United.

“It is in my blood,” said Allardyce of coaching. “The challenge is something I need, part of the challenge. Waking up and coming in here, it’s not work really. It is almost an addiction.”

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Returning to management less than five months after being told his contract at West Ham United would not be renewed, despite getting them back into and stabilising them in the Premier League, 60-year-old Big Sam believes he has time on his side to turn Sunderland’s fortunes around with 30 matches remaining. Read more about Allardyce’s appointment.

“It is a big challenge,” he continued. “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 on the basis that it can take such a long time to catch up.”

Beginning his Black Cats tenure with a trip to West Bromwich Albion, that match and then derby day present the perfect opportunity for Allardyce to get onside with Mackems. Life would look a lot better with six points from his opening two matches.

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An unforgiving festive fixture list is topped and tailed by winnable games against Watford and Aston Villa, both welcomed to Wearside. It is their home form that will go a long way to determining whether Sunderland can stay up under Big Sam or not.

“Given the situation we are in now, the players are disappointed with what they have produced,” Allardyce added. Special odds of 10/3 say the change of coach will provoke a reaction from the Black Cats, and they’ll win for their new boss at The Hawthorns.

Allardyce is also seeking an assistant, which he described as ‘top priority’. “I have a few irons in the fire but nothing definite as yet and I won’t disclose who it is until I get a yes from them,” Big Sam said. “When I get my number two in then I’ll be happy.”

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Coral are already anticipating yet another reunion between Allardyce and acolyte midfielder Kevin Nolan, offering an odds-on 2/5 price that the former Bolton Wanderers and West Ham captain will sign for Sunderland before the end of the winter window.

Linking up with the free agent once again is something Big Sam refused to rule out: “I have to assess the squad and whether I need another midfield player. Kevin and me go back a long way, but I need to assess the ability of the squad and then take it from there.

“If I feel Kevin may be someone I can look at in the future, and will give us something, then that may be a line I enter down.”

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Jamie Clark

Athletics aficionado, die-hard snooker fan and Crystal Palace supporter Jamie has written for Coral since February 2014 after spells with Soccerlens and the Press Association as a digital journalist and copywriter. A former East Midlands sports correspondent and Bwin tipster, he is a graduate of both the University of York and University of Sheffield, with a Masters in web journalism from the latter.