Belfast Telegraph

Allardyce: Players' reaction to Sunderland mauling has been 'exceptionally good'

Crystal Palace boss Sam Allardyce believes last weekend's thrashing at the hands of Sunderland has now been put to bed after clear the air meetings.

The Eagles were beaten 4-0 at home by their fellow Premier League relegation candidates, with angry fans berating the display throughout the game and confronting the team at half-time.

Allardyce was left humbled by his former side as the Black Cats scored four times before the break, and he now takes Palace to face Stoke on Saturday with his side second-bottom of the table and two points adrift of safety.

The 62-year-old former England manager dragged his players in for an early-morning meeting last Sunday after chairman Steve Parish had already addressed them in the immediate aftermath of the defeat.

"That was him releasing his frustration on the basis he is a Crystal Palace fan and he wanted to talk to the players and that was fine by me," Allardyce said of Parish's talks.

"By the end of Sunday morning it was all clear what we'd been through and how we'd let ourselves down. We have got to take it on the chin and bounce back and show some fighting spirit.

"The players had Monday off to reflect and it was done and dusted. On Tuesday we were planning for Stoke.

"You should not lose at home. It's like I keep telling the players, 'If you can't win, don't lose', but we keep losing. Whatever game comes along we have to try to get a result against whoever we play now."

Allardyce, who revealed he has moved into an apartment near Tower Bridge, would not be drawn on what was said in Parish's meeting but hopes it has had an impact.

"I can't tell you, it is private," he said when asked what Parish's message had been.

"It is a behind closed door scenario and isn't for the public area. What is said in the dressing room should always stay in the dressing room.

"The players reaction this week has been exceptionally good - it is something we don't want to do again, I don't want to bring them in at seven o'clock in the morning just to get it out of the way but hopefully it has had the desired effect."

Palace have won just one of Allardyce's seven league games in charge since he replaced Alan Pardew and he admits it is in defence where his side needs to improve.

"I thought we turned the corner away at Bournemouth because out of possession Bournemouth looked like they could play for two days without scoring," he said.

"Last Saturday at home, it was like a hot knife through butter as they say, we were wide open and had no defensive solidarity so we have got to get back to knowing what gets us out of the position we are in."

Former West Ham, Bolton and Newcastle boss Allardyce also said reports of a warm-weather training camp in Dubai being cancelled as as result of the loss were wide of the mark.

"We never booked it. It wasn't a cancellation," he said.

"We couldn't get the right flights, couldn't get the right hotel. Because it was half-term we said we would leave it until probably March now because there is an international break then.

"There's an opportunity then to have a winter break. It wasn't cancelled because it wasn't booked."

While a trip abroad during a relegation battle may rise a few eyebrows, Allardyce is in no doubt that it can lead to an upturn in results.

"If you do your research I had an upturn in fortunes everywhere," he said.

"I did at Bolton, West Ham, Blackburn. Everywhere we have done it it has increased the players' capacity to cope with the pressures of the Premier League.

"It has given them a new spirit in terms of how they feel when they come back. The research and science behind it has always been documented by me."

Palace could hand debuts to defender Mamadou Sakho and midfielder Luka Milivojevic at the Bet365 Stadium.

Liverpool loanee Sakho has been striving for match fitness and could come in at the perfect time for Allardyce, who could be without fellow defender Scott Dann due to injury.

Milivojevic now has a visa and the Serbia international is expected to play some part against the Potters, as is Jeffrey Schlupp who has recovered from a hamstring issue.

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