Filed: Friday, 18th May 2012
By: Staff Writer
KUMB joined Sam Allardyce at his pre-match press call to look ahead to this weekend's play-off Final against Blackpool - as his side prepares to do battle for the chance to return to the Premier League...
Obviously it's a really nervy time for the fans, Sam; what's the feeling like amongst the players?
Well they won't be as nervous as me probably, but I think the players are the lucky ones. The players are the ones that will be nervous before the game obviously, but they're the ones that walk over the white line and have the pleasure of playing in one of the world's best arenas. I just want them to make sure that when they go over that white line and when they come off they're not disappointed in their own performance and that they've given everything and shown everything they have as footballers.
But they're the lucky ones, because when the whistle goes they don't really feel the nerves then, they get on with the game. It's us who surround that arena, both me as a manager and the coach and then the supporters who get the nerves from thereon in. So yes, I think there'll be a certain amount of anxiety in us all, but in a game like this you have to control those emotions and hopefully, from the playerís point of view, they'll control their emotions and deliver the best performance.
From my point of view, controlling my emotions to make the best decisions when needed in the game, if and when needed - be that a substitution or a change of shape in the team. That's my job on the day and if that needs to be done, I've got to make sure I get that decision right.
And how important will those 35,000 West Ham fans be?
There'll be more than 35,000, I'll tell you that now! It'll be more like 45,000. Everybody's begging me for tickets, unfortunately the deadline has passed so if anybody's listening to this don't text me as I won't get you one anymore! And if I catch players getting people tickets as well now I'll give them a good dressing down, because we have to focus on the job, now.
Tickets for family and friends is a massive distraction in a game like this. So the lads have put all that to bed on Tuesday. I really don't think there are too many tickets to be had any more anyway, so hopefully we can just continue to focus on the game and deliver the performance that we want.
It's well documented the significant increase in money the club gets from being in the Premier League. Is that something you're thinking about?
Well it's an added pressure and it's obviously one that everybody in football strives to achieve now. Blackpool have tasted life in the Premier League recently and want to get there again. We're trying to get back there at the first time of asking and know what that extra finance can bring to us as footballers, as coaches and as managers but really it's about our own pride, it's about our own status in football for me, rather than the money. I
itís about playing, or coaching and managing, in the best league in the world and because we're in the best league in the world, if we can get there that brings the best funding, it gives you the opportunity to earn more than you would do normally. But it's not money that's the motivation, it's the winning and the football match.
You said before that you hope your players don't freeze on the day. Do you think it helps that you've got players like Robert Green, Carton Cole and Kevin Nolan who've played so many big games during their career and have played at the highest stage? Do you think that could be crucial?
Somebody in every winning team has to guide you through the game and I think those players with the experience need to be the mentors of all the other lads who may be feeling a little bit more nervous and who haven't been there. Once they see those players performing to their best it carries them along and then the team can give its best performance.
So yes, they play a critical part - first and foremost, in starting the game well, getting that first pass right, getting that first tackle, getting the first header. I think that then sets us up to know how we're going to play on the day. So for those players with the experience to start the game correctly is going to be critical to us trying to win the game.
Where does this match rank in your career?
As big as anything else, I think. The stage that it's on and the arena that we're playing in, new Wembley, makes for a super atmosphere. It's an absolutely fabulous stadium to go and compete against Blackpool in and try and get to the promised land. It's really fabulous. I just hope that at the end of it, it's been a great pleasure for me and the players.
I really am looking forward to it and hopefully being the victor there. But I know a little man down the road - Ian [Holloway] - who is as equally determined and so will his players be. I've got every respect for them and what they'll be trying to so and so have my players. We will have to be at our very best to overcome them and that's what we've got to try and do.
Do you think that because the tickets have gone so quickly, and that 10,000/20,000 more would have come and supported you on Saturday, it proves to you the magnitude of this club?
It does, yeah. Probably those who can't get their tickets through us will probably get their tickets in the Blackpool end somehow, knowing our supporters. That swell of support will be great to hear, them cheering on our lads on Saturday, because it's what we do it for. We do it for the atmosphere and it's the best atmosphere you could get at a place like Wembley. It's a big stage for the players and let's hope they deliver on the day.
And I just want to squash the rumour saying we've had Premier League shirts printed. We haven't. We've had a shirt printed with 'play-off Finals' on and nothing else.
And Jack Collison trained today?
Today, yes. Everybody's okay.
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