Sam Allardyce hoping fear of relegation helps drive Leeds to safety

United are two points from safety with three games left.
Sam Allardyce hoping fear of relegation helps drive Leeds to safety

By Mark Walker, PA

Leeds boss Sam Allardyce hopes the fear-factor can help kick-start his side’s Premier League survival bid on Saturday against Newcastle.

Allardyce answered Leeds’ SOS last week after they sacked Javi Gracia with four games remaining and has three left to save them from relegation after the 2-1 defeat at Manchester City.

Leeds ended their 16-year Premier League exile under Marcelo Bielsa three seasons ago, but slipped back into the bottom three on Monday and are two points from safety.

Allardyce said: “The fear needs to drive them on, the fear of relegation, the fear of losing their Premier League status should make them hopefully fight and fight hard for their status, their position at Leeds United.”

Leeds conceded 23 goals in April, a Premier League record for a calendar month, and former England boss Allardyce feels they must score first against Champions League hopefuls Newcastle.

“That’s very important for us on Saturday,” the 68-year-old said. “Getting the first goal would be a big lift.

“It would help us win the game. I’m not saying we would win the game, but going a goal down would be a very difficult job I think mentally for the players to come back from.

“If that’s the case then they’ll have to try and do it. What they won’t have to do is go daft like they have done before, leave the back door open and concede two, three and four again.”

Allardyce is relishing his first game in charge of the club at Elland Road and revealed a meeting with Leeds great Eddie Gray this week invoked memories of Don Revie’s side of the 1960s and 70s.

“I loved playing here as the away team,” Allardyce said. “I love the atmosphere. I came as a manager and it was the same.

“The historical nature of the game and yes, it might be an old stadium, but it’s Elland Road and what it stands for.”

Allardyce joked he almost asked former winger Gray, who had two spells as Leeds manager and is now club ambassador, if he wanted to play.

“The old days when I was growing up watching that (Revie) team, I was speaking to Eddie today at great length,” Allardyce added.

“He’s looking really fit, I was wondering if he could put his boots on and play. He’s the fittest 75-year-old I’ve seen in a long time. He’s still around the club, he still comes in he loves it that much. It’s a great football club.”

Allardyce, who has focused on shoring up Leeds’ leaky defence in his short time at the club, bemoaned the criticism he has received throughout his career for extoling the need for keeping clean sheets.

He added: “If you don’t listen to me, listen to Eddie Gray. If you don’t listen to him either listen to Pep (Guardiola) or Alex Ferguson. They all win the league with the best clean sheet record.”

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