O'Neill Backs Big Sam

Last updated : 13 January 2010 By Team Talk

Villa boss Martin O'Neill has backed Blackburn Rovers counterpart Sam Allardyce to turn things around at Ewood Park.

The suggestion is that Allardyce is a man under pressure following a run of nine Premier League matches without a victory.

That has left Blackburn facing a scrap for survival as they hover just three points above the relegation zone, and with all the teams below them having at least one game in hand.

Thursday night's first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final against Villa at Ewood Park may be seen as a welcome distraction for Allardyce and his players.

A Villa victory, however, may push Allardyce closer to the brink if rumours of dressing-room unrest and unhappiness at boardroom level are to be believed.

But O'Neill is convinced 'Big Sam' can turn the tide, even if Villa go on to reach the final at Wembley.

"I would absolutely back Blackburn Rovers," said O'Neill.

"I didn't realise they had not won for so many games, but I wouldn't think, with Sam in charge, they will have any problems.


"I don't know anything about him being under pressure, but we're all only a couple of games away from a crisis.

"That has been proven, not just recently, but over the last number of years.

"It's a precarious enough job, but at the end of it all, we're all just two results away from potential disaster."

Rovers' last victory was the penalty shoot-out triumph over Chelsea in the quarter final on December 2, but O'Neill feels the lean run will have no bearing on Thursday's outcome.

"Their efforts against Chelsea in the previous round were fantastic and I'm sure they'll draw on that sort of inspiration to get them up for this game," added O'Neill.

"I'm sure they'll be well up for it anyway. It's a semi final, two games away from Wembley, and that in itself is a massive incentive.

"Therefore I don't think previous recent form will have any bearing whatsoever on the game."


After suffering the postponement of their last two games, initially the first leg that was due to be played last Tuesday and Saturday's league game at Wigan, O'Neill's players are itching to be in action.

Having played on Monday, albeit enduring a 4-1 defeat at Manchester City, Blackburn at least have that competitive edge, whereas Villa are potentially well rested.

Assessing the situation, O'Neill said: "Overall, it's been a bit frustrating for us.

"The frustration stems from the fact we've travelled overnight to our last two games, and both have been called off the next day.

"However, that's the nature of things, and you just get on with it.

"Because of our postponements, and with Blackburn having played a game, they will have a bit of an advantage because they've been up and running.

"Injuries aside, that has given them an outing before tomorrow.

"But I wouldn't worry too much at this stage about advantages and disadvantages. Who knows until you get out there?"

O'Neill has no fresh injury concerns to contend with and is likely to name a full-strength side, albeit with goalkeeper Brad Guzan to continue his cup duties ahead of regular number one Brad Friedel.


Source: Team Talk

Source: Team Talk