Allardyce answers long-ball detractors

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The Independent Football

Sam Allardyce feels it will take a 100 per cent success rate from the final week of the season for Bolton to make certain of a Uefa Cup spot. Just as it appeared they were going to slide out of contention for a European place, they breathed fresh life into their fading dream by beating Charlton last weekend.

To make the most of that victory Allardyce believes his side need to beat Tottenham today, then overcome Middlesbrough and Birmingham at the Reebok; a run of results that the progressive Bolton manager thinks will be enough to seal a top-six berth - and the added prize of European football for a second successive season. "Three wins will just about clinch it for us," he said. "I still think we have a good chance, especially if we can reproduce the form we showed against Charlton last weekend."

With new rules regarding the Intertoto Cup now in operation, Bolton need to climb into seventh spot if they are even to qualify for that previously derided summer competition. For the vast majority of the season, top seven looked a foregone conclusion for Bolton, who even flirted with the Champions' League positions. But a run of five successive defeats, followed by a disappointing draw at West Bromwich, has threatened to undermine all the previous good work. "It would be very sad if six games in a 53-game season could end up costing us so much," said Allardyce. "The rest of this season has been as good as it has ever been at this club.

"We have produced a consistently high level of performance and, contrary to the opinions of people who tag us as a long-ball side, we have played some great football and got the results as well. We have to qualify because, after our experiences in the competition this season, Uefa Cup football is something we have to have."

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