Sam Allardyce has warned Sunderland not to “lose the plot” like Tottenham did against Chelsea, as they look to keep their survival hopes alive when they take on the Blues this weekend.
The Black Cats still have their fate in their own hands, with wins in all their remaining games enough to keep them in the top flight, and the 61-year-old doesn’t want his players to crumble under the pressure heaped upon them.
As an example, Allardyce has pointed towards Tottenham, who surrendered a 2-0 lead against the Blues on Monday evening to draw 2-2, handing Leicester City the title in the process.
The players appeared overawed by the situation, and the game disolved into a fiery encounter, with Spurs’ players guilty of a number of vicious tackles on their Chelsea counterparts.
It was not a good showing from a team who have won a host of admirers this season, and Allardyce knows Sunderland cannot afford to allow their discipline slip in similar fashion.
He said: “You saw it in Tottenham, I think, on Monday night when they lost the plot. We can’t afford to do that. We have to stay focused from start to finish.
“Tottenham lost a goal then lost the plot mentally, so then all of a sudden, all the talent they have in that side just went by the way and they ended up not only losing the game, but doing the strangest thing I’ve ever seen a Tottenham side do, and that’s get nine players booked and make some quite ferocious tackles at the same time.
“That shows you. What happened to Tottenham mentally, we cannot afford for that to happen to our team.”
Tottenham may be fighting at the top of the table, and Sunderland at the bottom, but the pressure on the players is surely very similar.
Thankfully for the Black Cats, they can call upon the leading scorer from all the teams mired in a relegation battle.
Jermain Defore has scored 14 Premier League goals this season, and Allardyce is well aware the Wearside outfit would be struggling much more if they couldn’t call upon the former England international.
He said with a smile: “If he wears a different pair of boots away from home, he’s going to have to wear his away boots on Saturday.
“It’s been fantastic for Jermain. He’s played on a regular basis – he tells me in the last couple of years, he hasn’t played as much, and he’s happy to be playing every week and playing every week makes him a little bit sharper in front of goal.
“There’s no doubt without him, we would have been struggling an awful lot more than we are now points-wise.”