Belfast Telegraph

Crystal Palace's squad tempted Sam Allardyce back into management

Sam Allardyce was tempted back into management so soon after his shock exit from England because he was excited to work with the Crystal Palace squad.

Allardyce was, as widely anticipated, appointed Palace boss on a two-and-a-half-year deal on Friday night, taking him back into club management less than three months after his departure from the national team.

In September, the 62-year-old stood down from what he said was his dream job after just 67 days and one match in charge, having made ill-advised comments while in conversation with undercover reporters in a newspaper sting.

The issue was not mentioned in a four-and-a-half-minute interview with Allardyce on Palace's official website, as they unveiled their new manager just a day on from ending Alan Pardew's near two-year tenure with the club.

But Allardyce, who will be in the Palace hotseat for their Boxing Day clash at Watford, admitted the lure of the Premier League and the chance to work with talents such as Yohan Cabaye, Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke was behind his swift return to management.

Allardyce said: "It's the best league in the world, I don't think anybody doubts that. As difficult and as pressurised as it is, it's where I've been comfortable for many years now.

"I hope I can bring some joy, particularly over Christmas and new year, and over the long term between now and the end of the season.

"I like the look of the squad and that's the probably the reason that I'm here, because I feel that the club can go forward from here and hopefully I can help it go forward."

While Allardyce is excited by the players he will work with, he inherits a side low on confidence after just one win in 11 Premier League matches, a run that resulted in Pardew's dismissal on Thursday.

Pardew's more expansive style of play, which brought just six Premier League wins in 2016 but also took the Eagles to the FA Cup final last season, also came under criticism following his departure.

Indeed, Palace chairman Steve Parish on Thursday pledged to "wind the dial back the other way" from Pardew's attack-minded approach.

And Allardyce admitted tightening up a defence that has conceded 32 goals in 17 matches this season is top of his priorities.

He said: "I've got a very important job in stopping the goals going in at the other end first, to be perfectly honest.

"Attacking players when you're in possession are fantastic because this season the strengthening in that area by the club and by Alan has brought a lot of flair to the team and I think that has brought quite a few more goals than perhaps they were looking like scoring last season.

"But at the other side of it is when we're not in possession we've just got to stop conceding goals and make sure that those goals we score win us games now. It sounds simple, but it's not that easy and that's what we've got to try and turn around."

"(The target) first and foremost is just to say 'let's stop losing'. That's the object, to try and find the basis of consistency that brings us some results."

The veteran manager was quick to praise the ambition of the chairman and the club's American owners, whom Pardew claimed just three weeks ago that they "perhaps don't know a lot about football".

Allardyce added: "The club seems to be very ambitious, certainly the chairman and the owners seem to be taking the club forward in the right direction."

Allardyce, who has never been relegated while at the helm of a Premier League club, and the club's hierarchy will work closely ahead of the January transfer window.

The former West Ham and Sunderland boss would like to strengthen his squad but his immediate concern is to stop any players from leaving.

He said: "We've got to try and make sure we protect the players we've got and the rumours that may float around that people might be interested in our players is also of great concern when you're a manager because that is very disruptive and can put a player off his game. Particularly in the position we're in we don't want any of that.

"We're certainly trying to recruit and make the squad a little bit bigger with a little bit more strength in depth would obviously be a key area for me. The players who are here are good enough but also if we can add to that then let's try and do it."

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