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Sven: Allardyce is a cunning fox

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Sven-Goran Eriksson has urged Sam Allardyce to ignore the critics who condemn his long ball tactics.


Although he is now at Newcastle, Allardyce's reputation as one of the most progressive managers in England was forged at Bolton, who he steered into Europe twice but are now struggling badly in his absence.


Yet his illustrious spell at the Reebok Stadium was dogged by allegations of gamesmanship and the style of play he indoctrinated into his team.


Arsene Wenger and Rafael Benitez were among those who rubbed Allardyce up the wrong way, a dislike he felt was more to do with the fact Bolton had a reputation for beating Arsenal and Liverpool which their managers did not like.


But, as they prepare to lock horns for the first time in Premier League combat, Allardyce can expect no such brick-bats from Eriksson.


The Swede may prefer the free-flowing 'beautiful game' but that does not mean he puts style over substance.


"If you are a manager, you are always criticised for one reason or another," said Eriksson.


"But I don't think Sam listens to it.


"What he has done is get some exceptionally good results with Bolton. He got them into Europe as well, so you can only admire him for that. At the end, who cares about his style of football?


"In any case, I have seen tapes of Newcastle and Bolton and they do play good football. The point is, they do what they are good at. Isn't that supposed to be what a manager is there to do?"


Eriksson knows enough about Allardyce's famous attention to detail to realise that his Manchester City team will need to be far more defensively solid that they were at Fulham last weekend to overcome Newcastle at Eastlands, even if the visitors will be without his old England warrior Michael Owen.


The Magpies will be a particular threat at set pieces, where Mark Viduka and Alan Smith can cause such damage, so young defender Micah Richards could be set for one of his sternest tests.


"Sam Allardyce is a fox," he said.


"He will prepare every detail of this game. He will make life difficult for us, I am sure about that and we will have to play well and defend better than we did at Fulham if we want to win."


Eriksson remains as cagey as he ever was in his five-and-a-half years with England.


In the summer, he told anyone who asked about his targets for the new campaign to wait until the end of August when his squad was complete. Now that deadline has passed, Eriksson wants to wait for a few more games before offering an opinion. The chances are he will still be saying the same thing in April.


Upstairs in the directors box, new owner Thaksin Shinawatra has been slightly more forthcoming, previously indicating a top-half finish would be an acceptable first season return on an investment he hopes will eventually lead to City playing in the Champions League.


The former Thai Prime Minister will certainly need to spend big if that lofty aim is to be met but meanwhile, given City's start, there is no reason why a top six finish should be thought an impossibility.


True, Eriksson has had a decent run in terms of injuries, even though Rolando Bianchi is out of tomorrow's encounter.


But, if Newcastle consider them as contenders to be 'best of the rest' there is no reason why City should shy away from such a challenge.


"If you speak to football people, 999 out of 1000 will say the big four will finish in the top four positions," said Eriksson.


"Immediately after that, Newcastle are one of the big favourites.


"All you need to do is go into the stadium to see what a big club they are.


"I hope people look at us in the same way but lets play a few more games, then we will see."

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He is also a very good manager. Did well in getting a vastly overrated England team to two quarter finals, won the double with Lazio. He's also right what he says, managers always egt criticised no matter what they do. Remember there were calls for Arsene Wenger to go last season, which is just absolutely ridiculous.

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