Belfast Telegraph

Allardyce 'chuffed' with win

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce declared himself "chuffed" to have finally brought to an end his side's winless run with a late goal from Diafra Sakho to inflict defeat on new Sunderland head coach Dick Advocaat.

The Irons were in contention for the European places earlier in the season, but have slipped down the Barclays Premier League after suffering three successive defeats and were seven games without victory.

Indeed, it appeared set to be another frustrating afternoon for Allardyce, who is out of contract in the summer, after Sunderland produced a solid defensive display and what looked like a penalty when Kevin Nolan was bundled over by Santiago Vergini, only for the officials to incorrectly signal offside.

However, with just two minutes left on the clock, Sakho slotted home after what looked like a foul on Seb Larsson by West Ham substitute Nene in the build-up to send the Upton Park faithful into a long-overdue celebration and leave Dutchman Advocaat in no doubt of the hard work ahead to secure Sunderland's top-flight status.

"It is nice to get a win to make everyone's life a little more comfortable this weekend. We are really chuffed," said Allardyce.

"Even though the game at times was a bit scrappy, we deserved it.

"Yes, there was probably a foul (in the build-up), but it is about time something went our way rather than against us.

"When things are going for you, they go for you, when they go against you they can be devastating for you.

"But on the back of the poor decisions we have had over the past 10 games, it was about time one went in our favour.

"This win now puts us in a better frame of mind going into the international break.

"We want to get all of our players back fit now, we won't have Andy Carroll or James Tomkins for the rest of the season, so these other guys will make the squad stronger.

"Our run-in suggests we can win some more games, to push on and finish as high as we can."

Vice-chairman Karren Brady made comments in her newspaper column that the team were "underachieving" in recent games, and it was the manager's "task to identify the reason and rectify it".

Allardyce responded in his post-match television interview to a question about "underperforming", and then moved to set the record straight when speaking in his main media conference.

He said: "It was getting me to say (something) which looked like I was maybe criticising the vice-chairman, which I would never want to do publicly.

"The performances are there, but the results have not been over the past 10 or 11 games.

"We just have not been able to find the victory we deserved."

Allardyce added: "Even though wins have eluded us, we are on 42 points, which is the same total as last year, and we are heading for probably the best total we have had since we have been back in the Premier League.

"Anybody who wants more than that, I don't know why they can ask for more."

Advocaat, the former Rangers boss parachuted in until the end of the season following the dismissal of Gus Poyet, had named an attacking line-up.

However, former Hammer Jermain Defoe wasted the best of the early chances and defender Patrick Van Aanholt saw a second-half goal-bound effort well saved by Adrian.

"It is difficult to play against their long balls, but we did really well," said Advocaat.

"If Defoe scores they have to take more risks and we would have got more space.

"But I did not expect the goal from West Ham because everything was under control.

"The luck was not on our side. Everybody saw it (the foul) and not the referee, but I do not want to complain."

Advocaat added: "But in just three days, you cannot change too much.

"Now I have the time to try something. Some players have to improve more tactically when we have the ball, so I will take that to the training ground."

Adam Johnson came off the bench in the closing stages.

England international Johnson, 27, has been bailed until April 28 following his arrest on suspicion of sexual activity with a girl under 16 and returned to training this week following a club suspension.

"I spoke with him in the week. Life goes on. He did well," Advocaat said.

"He is a very good player. I was happy I could bring him on. That is good to know for the game versus Newcastle."

Sunderland have won four Tyne-Wear derbies in a row, Johnson scoring in three of those including a stoppage-time winner earlier this season.


From Belfast Telegraph