New Sunderland chief Sam Allardyce says it’s “unlikely that we’ll turn things around overnight” after penning a two-year deal on Friday.
Allardyce, 60, has admitted to feeling the love on Wearside after agreeing to take over the reigns from Dick Advocaat, who quit last weekend.
The new Black Cats boss was constantly criticised during his four-year spell at West Ham and he left Upton Park on the final day of last season after his contract was not renewed.
And the former Blackburn and Bolton man has revealed his delight at being wanted again, although he admits that steering the club – who have just three points – away from the relegation zone will be a big ask.
“I don’t want to sound negative but we’ve got to be realistic and accept that it’s unlikely that we’ll turn things around overnight,” Allardyce exclusively told The Sun on Sunday.
“If you get into double figures in points from your first eight games, your chances of getting relegated are dramatically reduced. Sunderland have got three points.
“The ‘R’ word is already back – relegation-threatened Sunderland. It’s a big burden to play under that pressure in front of your own fans.
“The supporters are anxious, the players are anxious and that is when the costly, unforced errors creep in.
“I won’t know exactly how difficult this job is going to be until in amongst the players.
“From a distance, I feel like I can sort out the defence and I think there’s enough there to score a few goals.”
Timing is everything
Allardyce also revealed he was first approached by Sunderland owner Ellis Short at the end of the season, after Advocaat decided to walk away from the job, which he eventually returned to.
“Sunderland first showed an interest in me at the end of last season. It wasn’t a job offer, but they wanted to know if I’d be interested if Dick Advocaat left.
“But the phone call came straight after the end of my four years at West Ham. It wasn’t the right time for me.
“I needed a break and time to chill out and just reflect on my next move.”
That move materialised this week as Sunderland made their move for Allardyce, who will be entitled to a big bonus if he manages to keep the Black Cats in the Premier League.
Allardyce, who will reportedly appoint Peter Reid as his No.2 this week, is delighted to be back in the game after a near-five-month sabbatical.
“When I was at West Ham my wife, Lynne, would constantly read the supporters website to see what new insults were being fired.
“It upset her but she couldn’t keep away from the screen.
“Now she’s been reading the Sunderland fans’ site and she tells me the reaction has been very positive, which makes me feel very excited to get going.
“Everyone wants to be praised and to feel wanted and I just hope I can give the Sunderland supporters some of the excitement they are looking for.
“It’s nice to be loved. But at West Ham and Newcastle I was faced by passionate fans that made themselves heard if they weren’t happy.
“It wasn’t just me at West Ham, it was every manager that was there,” he added.