Big Sam on: Manchester United

Sam Allardyce spoke to the media on Thursday morning ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League trip to Manchester United.

The manager gave an update on injury news, spoke about Manchester United's form, and that of his own side following last weekend's fine victory over Liverpool.

Morning Sam, any injury news for us?

SA: "Cheikhou Kouyate has had a problem, he's out for six weeks. It's a blow due to his performances. We don't have more new injuries to worry about.

"Kevin Nolan is training today for the first time, he won't be included for the squad against Manchester United. Same with Matt Jarvis. There's an U21 game on Monday they'll probably play a part of. It's good to have those two players back in full training, so that leaves Andy Carrooll. Kouyate and Joey O'Brien out, hopefully not for long.

"The squad is confident and the new guys have shown what they can do. They've got a tough game against Manchester United where they can test their skills and abilities. Old Trafford can be daunting for some players but hopefully it won't be for our players."

How soon for Andy Carroll, some suggestions it can be December?

SA: "We don't want to put a time on it, it might be sooner but we don't want to rush him back. It all depends how the rehabilitation goes. We have to be ultra-careful and if we feel an extra week will do him good then that's what we'll do.

"When he's back hopefully he'll be back for good. We can only guess at a day for when he'll be back. In and around late-November or early-December I think."



You said he's at a crossroads, what did you mean by that?

SA. "He has to overcome the injuries he's had. His career has been stunted by injuries since his time at Liverpool really. We have to try and find a solution. Ryan Giggs is an example, he had lots of hamstring injuries but managed to find a way to overcome it. Obviously he played until he was 40. We have to do that with Andy now, look at different methods and techniques away from day-to-day training. When we do get it sorted, he'll grow and become the player that we know he is. He's tuned 25 now and moving into the peak of his career hopefully in peak condition. He needs a sustained run in the team and when he gets that he'll be great for us."

What do you make of Manchester United? Excellent against QPR and then there was the Leicester game...

SA: "I don't think they had a problem until the penalty. Even at 3-2 I thought they would kick on again. I was surprised they lost their focus in the way they did. A bad decision went against them but they didn't react to it well. Leicester took full advantage of that, but up to 3-1 they looked good, they were creating chances.

"There were specific moments in the game, like Falcao hitting the bar and that would have been it. But Leicester came back and did very well.

"We need to make sure we limit their chances and use the possession we do have when we have it. We have to be as good at taking the ball off them as we were against Liverpool last week. We're going to have to dampen the outstanding talent that they do have and the exploit the defensive weaknesses."

Five games in and Van Gaal has two points less than Moyes. Are we obsessing about a foreign manager again?

SA: "It takes time to get players gelling together. It's not an excuse, it's an actual fact. When they settle in that's a bonus as they have done here. There is so much to consider with a new player, you can't expect to walk into a club and know every player's strengths and weaknesses after two days. You can't do that overnight. It takes time for everyone to get to know each other. United have already changed the system once to find a solution. They've got a few injuries, particularly defensive ones, so another opportunity for us to exploit.

"We are going into the game with confidence, and as underdogs. Hopefully we can go out and continue our good performances and get a result."

Do you expect to be playing a lot of counter attacking football?

SA: " I would have thought so, yes. The quality of United's team may drive us back and if we are to contain their abilities on the ball we have to have a compact unit. When we have the ball we have to break into the spaces they are going to leave.They will attack us because Manchester United fans demand that they do. There will be spells when we have to do some deep defending, I'm sure. But if we're as good as we were against Liverpool then we can cause them one or two problems. As always we'll have to be as clinical in our finishing as we were last week, that is the key. We can't afford to miss the chances we get."

Do you think this is a good time to play Manchester United coming off the back of a defeat?

SA: "No, I think there'll be a backlash. The determination of the Manchester United players and the demand on them means I'm sure they will be fired up. They'll be hurting after the Leicester game and they'll know the only way they can put it right is go out and put on a good performance."

For the injured guys looking in, what advice to you give to them?

SA: "They should say to themselves they need to get fit and fight their way back into the team. That will hopefully be their attitude. It may not be as easy as it was before but that leaves me in a very difficult position. It's tough when you have to sometimes leave people out of the team and even the bench. That's why squads nowadays have 25 players in it. We need to keep that squad as fit and competitive as possible as we can.

"You don't want the team picking itself. You want the players on the pitch knowing that if they slip up there's another player desperately waiting to take his place."

What psychological advantage do you have over Manchester United?

SA: "We go into the game with the confidence coming off the Liverpool result. We have played well for the majority of the season. We have to believe we can give a similar type of performance on Saturday. That'll have to be the minimum we give. We have to hope we get the breaks at the right time."

Any thoughts about Ravel Morrison going on loan to Cardiff?

SA: "It's first team football for Rav. It's important he's playing first team football elsewhere. Cardiff are a very good club, trying to get back into the Premier League. They have a good squad of players. He can go and play some football. We'll keep an eye on him and come December we'll make a decision regarding Rav because he's running into the last year of his contract now."