Big Sam knows he must 'park the bus' to survive

Sunderland defender Younes Kaboul (in green) trying to dispossess Crystal Palace striker Wilfried Zaha. Despite winning 1-0, the Black Cats remain in the relegation zone.
Sunderland defender Younes Kaboul (in green) trying to dispossess Crystal Palace striker Wilfried Zaha. Despite winning 1-0, the Black Cats remain in the relegation zone.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Sunderland will have to "park the bus" to help them stay in the English Premier League this season, manager Sam Allardyce said after they snatched a scrappy 1-0 win at Crystal Palace on Monday.

Using a term coined by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho to describe the defensive strategy once employed by Allardyce at Stamford Bridge with his former club West Ham, he said the tactic would be key to keeping Sunderland up.

The win - Sunderland's second in the league this season and their first away from home - took them four points above bottom side Aston Villa into 18th place. They are only a point behind north-east rivals Newcastle United, who are just outside the drop zone on 10 points.

Bournemouth are 19th, below Sunderland on goal difference.

"It's the way to go, and it really always has been the way to go," said Allardyce of the tactic, having watched his team concede 26 goals in 13 games - the second highest in the English top flight.

"We have to frustrate the opposition, there is no doubt about that. As Jose (Mourinho) says, 'we will park the bus' because we have to.

"Today, we frustrated the crowd, we frustrated Crystal Palace."

Sunderland's Younes Kaboul was the man of the match for his role in the middle of three central defenders, a formation masterminded by Allardyce.

The Black Cats have kept two clean sheets in their two wins this season, the other coming at home against Newcastle.

"Had we lost today, it would have been my fault because we played three at the back. I picked that system that they are not used to.

"But when you get a result, it gives me more confidence to work at it... and it gives them fewer excuses because they have done it once."

Allardyce has developed an exact formula required to ensure top-flight survival. But the win at Selhurst Park on Monday was as much to do with Palace's own errors as it was "Big Sam's" tactics.

Former England striker Jermain Defoe snatched the winner 10 minutes from time, after Palace defender Scott Dann desperately hacked the ball away from on-rushing goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

"It is nice to see us capitalising on an opposition's mistake rather than the opposition doing it to us," said Allardyce, whose side face in-form Stoke at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2015, with the headline 'Big Sam knows he must 'park the bus' to survive'. Print Edition | Subscribe