Sam Allardyce motivated by fear of failure at Crystal Palace
Sam Allardyce has admitted a fear of failure to guide Crystal Palace to top‑flight safety is serving as personal motivation as he seeks to instigate an upturn at the ailing south London club, and has reiterated how vital it will be to make further additions in the transfer market this month if his team are to survive.
Palace are a point from the foot of the Premier League and will seek to rest first-team players against Bolton Wanderers in their FA Cup third-round replay on Tuesday before Saturday’s game with Everton.
The club are still hopeful of securing the Arsenal full-back Carl Jenkinson for around £7m this week, though agreement has yet to be struck over personal terms. The 24-year-old, who boasts a solitary England cap, earns around £40,000 a week at the Emirates Stadium and would expect an increase in wage across the capital.
While that deal should eventually be completed, there is renewed hope, too, that the experienced Juventus left-back Patrice Evra can still be secured after the player apparently relaxed his initial demand for a contract through to 2019. Palace would be more comfortable offering the former Manchester United player, now 35, an 18-month deal, though their pursuit of defensive recruits is a reflection of recent dismal form.
There has been one win in 16 matches in all competitions, and none in Allardyce’s five games to date since he replaced Alan Pardew just before Christmas.
The former England manager has been surprised to discover the extent of self-doubt that has infected an “under-achieving” Palace squad, epitomised by the late capitulation at West Ham on Saturday, with the task of retaining Premier League status suddenly daunting.
“It always scares you when you first come in, and I am scared that we won’t succeed, yes,” he said. “Definitely, because the last thing I want is to come here and not be able to save Crystal Palace with a track record which has never had that blemish [of relegation] on it since I’ve been in the Premier League.
“When you go to any new club the fear is as great as when you first start out, when you get your first manager’s job, sit behind the desk and think: ‘Making this team work or making this team successful is my responsibility now.’
“I’m not fearful of losing my job. It’s the fear of not wanting to blemish my record, and [that desire to] help Palace get out of trouble when it’s stayed in the Premier League so long recently.
“Let’s face it, we are in crisis mode. We’ve got 16 points from 21 games and we won’t feel comfortable until we’ve got the same number of points as games played. It’s a hard task to take on, but I’m willing to use all the experience I’ve gained to say to the players: ‘Look, I’ve been here before. This is what we need to do. If you listen to it and you put it in place as quickly as you possibly can, it will help you.’ I am saying it will give them a better chance.”
Palace secured Jeffrey Schlupp from Leicester last week for an initial £9m but continue to be hampered by injury problems – neither Scott Dann nor James McArthur will be risked against Bolton – while Wilfried Zaha and Bakary Sako compete at the Africa Cup of Nations. Allardyce has pointed to the upturn he instigated at Sunderland last season through the mid-season purchase of Lamine Koné, Wahbi Khazri and Jan Kirchhoff as evidence of what can be achieved in the January window.
He still aspires to add a central midfielder and, potentially, a centre-half to the ranks as well as those full-backs. “I still need better players to come in and help change the mentality and lift it,” he said. “I’ve done that with the players I’ve brought in at Blackburn and at Sunderland, and I’d like to do it here. The chairman [Steve Parish] would like to do it, but there is only a certain amount of money, there’s only limited resources. We have to utilise that money the best possibly we can. It is a risk we have to take.”
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