Sam Allardyce has revealed how he agreed to postpone his retirement plans and join Sunderland, BEFORE Dick Advocaat’s final game in charge against tomorrow’s opponents West Ham.
Allardyce returns to his former stomping ground this weekend after his departure from Upton Park at the end of last season could have marked the end of his career in the dug-out.
The 61-year-old was considering ending his management career after his contract expired with the Hammers last May, before Sunderland eventually came calling in October when Advocaat had decided to step down.
Former boss Advocaat’s final game at the helm for Sunderland was a 2-2 draw against West Ham at the Stadium of Light, when the Black Cats surrendered a two-goal lead after an utterly dominant opening 40 minutes.
Advocaat’s departure was already decided before kick-off, yet it was not thought that Sunderland had a sure-fire successor lined up at that stage.
However, Allardyce has now confirmed that he watched the game on television with interest, having already provisionally agreed to succeed Advocaat after an approach from Sunderland chairman Ellis Short.
“I watched it and I was gutted because I knew I was coming,” Allardyce said.
“It wasn’t as if it was behind Dick’s back because he’d already told Ellis that he was leaving.
“I watched it with an interest after Ellis moved quickly.
“It was disappointing that they let that 2-0 lead slip.
“But the biggest concern for me was Dick saying they weren’t good enough to stay up because he’d worked with the players during the back-end of last season and all through the summer.
“He left on the basis that he didn’t think they were good enough to stay up.
“When I heard that, I was obviously concerned, but hoped I could make them better than they were.”
Allardyce’s contract situation at Upton Park last season was a running issue, despite the club sitting pretty in the top four at the halfway point of the season.
Neither West Ham nor Allardyce were desperate to extend his tenure at the club, with the ex-Bolton boss unsure whether he wanted to continue in the dug-out.
“I could have put them under enormous pressure when we were third in the league in December and said ‘I want my contract’,” added Allardyce.
“But because I wasn’t certain myself whether I wanted to stay, I never pushed that element.
“At the end of the season, we moved on and it was the right time for me, and they obviously thought it was the right time for them.
“It was a strange way to part company, but that’s how it happened.
“I felt at the time, that it might have been time for me to pack in managing.
“Not football in general, but not take another role as a manager and do something a bit different.
“But it wasn’t too long after that, that the urge came back and the ultimate addiction started to kick-in.
“The withdrawal symptoms started to happen and the adrenaline kicked in to come into this difficult position at Sunderland, which I can hopefully take them out of.”