Eriksson full of praise in battle of wits to outfox Allardyce

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The Independent Football

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, whom he steered into Europe twice but are now struggling 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.

Arsène 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.

But, as they prepare to lock horns for the first time in Premier League combat, Allardyce can expect no such brickbats 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," Eriksson said. "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?

"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?"

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

"Sam Allardyce is a fox," Eriksson said. "He will prepare every detail of this game. He will make life difficult for us, and we will have to defend better than we did at Fulham."