Sam Allardyce believes that helping his players overcome their fears of playing at Selhurst Park could be one of the biggest factors in keeping them in the Premier League this season after they crumbled in the first half to lose 4-0 to Sunderland.
A miserable first 45 minutes saw the Black Cats race into a huge lead that couldn’t be overturned, and with the Eagles picking up just seven points in SE25 so far this season, Allardyce, who apologized for the performance, is hoping to try and rebuild his squad’s confidence in the coming weeks.
In his post-match press conference, he talked about:
Home form: “Our home form tells the story of that fear by us being bottom of the league in home points gained, whereas away we're ninth. We have to overcome the fears that we have playing at home – I don’t know why they’re there but I have to help them out. It’s not down the fans, they don’t put them under a huge amount of pressure compared to other clubs that I’ve managed; they want to support them but we have to give them something to get behind. I apologize for what they saw in that first half today.
“It’s apparent now for me that the players are struggling with their home form, and they need to get rid of the fear and turn that into a positive and get much better than they are now. I saw us against Swansea and again today against a team below us where we haven’t performed anywhere near where we know we can and we’ve lost both games.”
The first half capitulation: “Today was all about fear in the players. When the first goal went in they lost control and you have to keep control mentally when you play this game, much more so when you go a goal down. When the fear takes over, then the mind gets confused and we saw players doing a lot of stuff that we couldn’t have envisaged in the frailties shown by our defending in the first half and the four goals that they scored.”
New signings’ availability: “Jeffrey should be fit soon and Luka has to get a permit to get back into the country. Momo needs a bit of catching up in his fitness as he hasn’t played a first-team game and hopefully they will make a difference and help lift the rest of the players. We have a lot of work to do with providing these players with the right positive mental attitude to go out and perform here on this ground.”
Tactics: “We played a very good game with that system at Bournemouth and then completely lost the way we should have played with that system here at home. I had to change it to help the players get better but they have to do that themselves within that system because the way they performed in the first half just wasn’t good enough.
"In the second half we showed a bit of fighting spirit and tried to get back in the game but Sunderland had been gifted four goals and could just sit back and frustrate us. It’s a very disappointing day for us all and it’s my responsibility as manager that I turn it around as quick as possible.”
The fans’ frustrations: “They [the players] have to accept that for the performance that they’ve given – a fan will show their approval if the team is playing well and their disapproval if they haven’t performed to the level that they expect. In today’s Premier League they expect to see a lot more entertainment than they’ve seen all season and, as the results tell you, it’s been an all-season problem.”