Big Sam on: Sunderland

West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce faced the media ahead of Saturday's game with the Black Cats. 
Here's what he had to say about the impact new manager Dick Advocaat may have, team news and converting good performances into three points...  

Morning Sam, we’ll start off with the team news, is it fair to say that Carlton Cole and Adrian are fit, but not Enner Valencia and Winston Reid?

"Yes, that’s fair to say. Carl Jenkinson is back in the frame, Winston doesn’t look like he’ll be fit and James Tomkins has just had an operation on his dislocated shoulder.

"Having Carl and Carlton back with our small squad is a big boost for us. Hopefully Winston will be back shortly for us, we’re prepared to wait until Saturday morning to make a decision on him."

Last week you mentioned the freak injury to Enner Valencia, are you feeling more positive given you have some more players coming back?

"A little bit, obviously we want them all back. There’s no Andy Carroll and no Enner Valencia so it’s not the strength in depth that we’re looking for. The spine of our team is largely missing with Winston Reid and James Tomkins also out.

"I expect the players that play on Saturday to give their best because this game is as big for Sunderland as it is for us. We’ve got to make sure we’re totally professional and focused.

"There’s no easy game in the Premier League, people will expect us to win but shocks happen all the time. We’ve had a few shocks beating Liverpool and Manchester City, Burnley had one of the biggest shocks last weekend. We’ve got to be on top of our game and make sure we come away with three points."

Sunderland this weekend, they’ve been the story of the week with Gus Poyet sacked and Dick Advocaat coming in. What have you made of events this week?

"They’ve moved very swiftly which has given them the best possible chance of improving their results. They’re obviously hoping that Dick Advocaat, with his experience, can draw something more out of the players than Gus managed to do."

"I think it makes the game more difficult for us, a new manager coming in plus the fact they got beat 4-0 last weekend. They’ll be hurt by that and the fact they let the fans down. They probably feel like they’ve let Gus down as well and I’m sure they’ll want to do something about that. Saturday will be a very tough game."

"We have a few problems of our own that we need to resolve. We’ve got problems winning football matches at the moment even though we’re playing pretty well. We’ve got to make sure that winning games is the most important thing, hopefully we can do that in style but if not, a win on Saturday is the most important thing. We’ve had a poor points total in the last 12 games or so and we want to change that."

Are you surprised that Sunderland have turned to a man with no Premier League experience?

"A little bit but when you see the experience he has got, he’s a manager with experience across the world. I wouldn’t have thought that they’ll be too many surprises for him in the Premier League.
There’s a different level of football in the Premier League in terms of its quality, its intensity and speed. I think it’s more about him getting used to the players and how best he can pick a system with the players he’s got that works and picks up points. He’s managed at a lot of different levels with a lot of success."

How might the new manager effect Sunderland, and how does that effect the way you plan on approaching the game?

"It can have an instant effect but it also might take a little longer. Everyone is talking about Tim Sherwood’s impact at Aston Villa, but I think initially they lost the first two league games but now it has turned around for him. It can be a short term impact. Generally the stats say over the long term it doesn’t make too much difference, but I certainly think it can in the short term.

"It all depends on the players and how well they adapt to a new manager and new methods. I would’ve thought Tim knew more about the Aston Villa players than Dick Advocaat does about the Sunderland players having not worked in this country before. He’s got to get to know his players very quickly."

It’s been suggested that if there’s no resolution to your contract situation here at West Ham, that you would be a good fit for Sunderland, what would you say to that?

"It’s pure speculation. I’m West Ham manager, I’ve got a contract here. I expect at some point to discuss the contract."

Do you expect to be here after the summer, if that contract’s right?

"If the contract is right, yes."

You’ve described the recent results as a bit of a let down compared to the early season form, is this the start of a comeback?

"It’s an opportunity. Our squad is struggling a bit at the moment, every team does at some point in a season. We need to overcome that with a result and hopefully that starts on Saturday.

"We’ve had a challenging run of fixtures, but we’ve been so close to famous victories against Manchester United and away at Tottenham and we shouldn’t really have lost to Chelsea. So had we picked up the points we deserved, we would have been in a fantastic position now.

"The bottom line is, playing good football is great but not winning is crucial. Not getting results creates a huge amount of pressure on the players, added to that is West Ham fans will expect us to win, anything less than that, they won’t except anything less."