Belfast Telegraph

Sam Allardyce holds no grudges towards Mike Ashley ahead of Newcastle clash

Everton manager Sam Allardyce insists he bears no grudge against Newcastle or owner Mike Ashley for the way he was treated during his brief spell in charge at St James' Park.

And he insists he has nothing but respect for former adversary Rafael Benitez after a previously difficult relationship with the now-Magpies boss.

Allardyce spent just eight months in charge at Newcastle before being sacked by Ashley nearly 10 years ago, a decision the billionaire retail entrepreneur has recently admitted was hasty.

The new Everton manager insists it is all water under the bridge, with even his relationship with Benitez on a different footing after their tussles when at Bolton and Liverpool respectively.

"It was difficult circumstances for me with the change of ownership. In the end it was chosen that I wasn't to be and moved on," Allardyce said.

"For the first time in my entire life as a manager I actually heard an owner of a football club say it was a mistake he let me go.

"I was grateful in all honesty when Mike came out (and said that) not so recently.

"It got settled and life is too short for grudges."

On the state of his relationship with Benitez Allardyce added: "Past history wasn't great. Recent history is OK. Certainly there hasn't been any animosity recently.

"It was a good battle at the time. It was me trying to make my way in the Premier League, Rafa just coming in at Liverpool and we managed to beat them by the way we played and he didn't like it and expressed his opinion.

"At that particular time Liverpool were not supposed to lose against Bolton. What happened was people didn't really know how brilliant the Bolton team was."

Allardyce's reputation for upsetting Liverpool managers returned on Sunday when his defensive tactics frustrated the Reds long enough for Wayne Rooney to snatch a late equaliser from the penalty spot.

Jurgen Klopp's post-match interviews were the most tetchy since he arrived in England but Allardyce excused him.

"As a manager I have every respect for Jurgen, who is an outstanding manager," he added.

"We can all be on the edge sometimes when the right question from you lads (media) triggers us.

"But I think in the end, for all concerned when you actually see it it was the right decision, the penalty."

The Everton manager made no excuses, however, for his negative tactics at Anfield.

'Liverpool had scored 12 goals in the last two games and my responsibilities were to frustrate - I make no apologies for that," he said.

'The best way for us to get something out of the game was to stop them scoring.

"Liverpool haven't been scoring one or two, they have scored five or seven. Liverpool play a high press and it is very difficult to play against.

'The thing at the end was the result. Tactically we were sound.

"We didn't create as much as I would have liked. Even Man United came and did that. Rarely do teams who open up against Liverpool get any points."

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