Belfast Telegraph

Allardyce advocates flexibility

Sam Allardyce believes he is more tactically flexible than Everton boss Roberto Martinez - but feels injuries and Europa League commitments are the true cause behind the Toffees' mixed start to the season.

Having replaced David Moyes at Goodison Park before the last campaign, Martinez was praised with the attractive football he encouraged and which led to a fifth-placed finish in the Premier League and Europa League qualification.

But good results have been harder to come by this season and, despite a 1-1 draw with champions Manchester City at the weekend, Everton are just three points clear of the relegation zone and have yet to hit the heights of Martinez's maiden season in charge.

Despite their indifferent form, Martinez is adamant he will not abandon his passing style of play, and West Ham boss Allardyce - while preferring more of a 'horses for courses' approach himself - does not feel the Spaniard's footballing philosophy is the reason for Everton's troubles in any case.

Instead, Allardyce, who welcomes Martinez and his team to Upton Park on Tuesday evening for their FA Cup third-round replay, has identified injuries and the extra burden of European competition as possible explanations for Everton's struggles.

He said: "For me it has always been about adapting and suiting the players the best way possible to win football matches.

"Whilst Everton are having a sticky patch at the moment I'm not sure that is down to Roberto's philosophy. It is about players going out and playing to the best of their abilities.

"Everton at the moment, because they have had the extra games with the Europa League, it has told. It is nothing to do with his belief and philosophy. They have found it difficult to cope with more injuries and more games."

Whilst he is in support of Martinez's philosophy, Allardyce believes his own progression through the ranks as a manager has given him an added understanding of the need to be flexible with how you play, depending on what you have at your disposal.

"I think that Roberto, like every other manager, has his own style," he said.

"I'm a little bit more flexible than Roberto - he is a total believer in one style. Where I have come from, which is part-time at Limerick where we met up on a Thursday and 50 per cent of your players turned up on Sunday from Dublin and you put them out on the field to win.

"Then you move into the lower-leagues, starting at Blackpool where you have got some ageing, older players whose best years are behind them and you have got to put them out on the pitch to get results, because if you don't you lose your job at that stage and you don't get another one.

"You become flexible as time goes on. Flexibility teaches you that you have a philosophy in the way you want to play but if that way of playing doesn't suit the players you have you cannot keep that philosophy."

The 60-year-old Allardyce will be back in the dugout for the replay, where the winners will face either Doncaster or Bristol City, having missed Saturday's 1-1 draw at Swansea due to a chest infection.

He is yet to bring in any new faces since the January transfer window opened and has long said, with financial fair-play implications, that loan moves are the only realistic options.

Defender Winston Reid's future at the club remains in doubt as he has yet to sign a new deal, with his current contract expiring in the summer.

Allardyce had suggested earlier in the year that the New Zealand international looked set to depart at the end of the season, but now hopes the club can match Reid's ambition with a strong second half to the campaign.

"No movement on Winston Reid at all, no," he said when asked if anything had been resolved.

"For me, he stays. I think that the way the club has improved I think with him staying and what we've done this season - and hopefully finish the season strongly - might persuade him to sign for us.

"We're on the up at the moment and we've got a very big future ahead of us, moving into the new stadium so the club could be bigger than it has ever been in the next four to five years."

Manchester City's Matija Nastasic and Efe Ambrose of Celtic are two defenders who have been linked with moves to Upton Park but Allardyce rubbished both reports, suggesting Nastasic was a summer target but that the player is looking to move abroad rather than remaining in the Premier League.

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