Belfast Telegraph

"My life has been bonkers in the last year or so" says Palace boss Sam Allardyce

Sam Allardyce believes the football management "madhouse" is best captured by the way he and Craig Shakespeare started the season as England colleagues but have since been involved in separate battles against relegation.

Victory on Saturday against Shakespeare's Leicester would ensure Crystal Palace conclude the weekend higher than their rivals in the Premier League, in the latest development of what the Palace manager has described as a "bonkers" year.

Allardyce recruited Shakespeare to his coaching team shortly after his appointment as England manager, but after departing his position following only one game he was appointed at Palace. Shakespeare was later made Leicester manager until the season's end after Claudio Ranieri's sacking when they were similarly at risk of relegation.

They have not recently been in contact, but Allardyce sent Shakespeare a message when he was first promoted, and after separately edging closer to survival, they meet on Saturday at Selhurst Park for the first time since working together.

"I wished him all the very best on jumping into the madhouse and said 'good luck coping with it'," said Allardyce, 62, whose England assistant Sammy Lee followed him to Palace. "And he very clearly has.

"It's mad, mad, mad. You have to be mad to do this. The pressure is constant and no one day is the same, but I don't like to eat the same thing for breakfast every day so that suits me.

"But that's why you do it, because you love the challenges, you love the involvement, you love making decisions and you love putting out a team to win.

"My life has been bonkers in the last year or so. I've gone from Sunderland and plotting to make them better to the England job, which I never thought would come my way again, to Steve (Parish, Palace's chairman) bringing me to Palace and where we are now.

"Never mind my autobiography: the last 18 months would make one hell of a book.

"I thought him working with Sammy and me was going to be a really good combination (for England)."

Shakespeare had never previously worked as a manager and was an unexpected choice when Allardyce wanted him to join the national team's coaching staff.

Asked what it was that attracted him to the then-Leicester assistant, the Palace manager responded: "His organisation; his training programmes are informative and enjoyable for the players.

"He knows his own players, he knows their capabilities and knows the club having been there a while, and that has kicked in as well. The (Leicester) players have started to perform better.

"(Leicester) achieved the great escape in the first season and then after that won the Premier League, so that's why the game's mad, isn't it? Managing the madness is what it's all about.

"Whatever happens during the game, we'll share a glass after the game. (The England job's) long gone (so we won't discuss that)."

Allardyce has Patrick van Aanholt available after his recovery from an ankle injury, but he is expected to retain the same team that on Monday defeated Arsenal 3-0.

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