Eriksson tells Allardyce to remain tough

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The Independent Online

There are few managers who know more than Sven Goran Eriksson about the burden of supporters' disapproval, although it is a problem more relevant to his opposite number today, Sam Allardyce. The former England manager said yesterday that Allardyce would have to stay tough in the face of his current difficulties at Newcastle.

With Manchester City pressing the big four in the Premier League and gearing up for a transfer window in which Eriksson said he would be signing "expensive and top-class players," the City manager has none of the fears stalking Allardyce. With Joey Barton in jail over assault charges and two straight defeats in the Premier League, Allardyce needs a victory over City at St James' Park today.

Eriksson said: "Sam Allardyce has thick skin and he can stand up to what is happening there and will resolve it. Everyone knows he is a great manager. The job he did for Bolton was fantastic. The thing with jobs like that is if you win you are fantastic and if you lose it is the opposite, there is never anything in between.

"People might say would anyone choose to manage Newcastle? But then you might say would anyone choose to manage England? For me they are both dream jobs. You are talking about a big club, a fantastic stadium and support, nobody would ever say no to that job. Although I would emphasise I am happy where I am."

Having drawn with Liverpool on Sunday, Eriksson has to make a decision over whether he picks the out-of-form Elano who was substituted in that game. Allardyce, whose side have not won since 15 December, also has a doubt over his newly appointed captain Alan Smith. Eriksson said that he believed his side were a credible threat to the big four.

"If we want to get into that top four we need continuity here," he said. "By that I mean continuing to develop good young players and get in some more quality. We are definitely on the right track to breaking into the top four, but when it will happen I do not know.

"If it does not happen this year, it just means the four above us are just better. But I know that if we can sort out our away form this season we will have a lot better chance. There is a lot less patience around than there was 20 years ago.

"Take the big four. They all believe they can win the title, yet you know right at the start that three of them are going to be disappointed. We already have one new player in Nery Castillo who will, hopefully, surprise everyone. The other players I want will be difficult to get. They are expensive and top-class, but if we do get them it will all happen in the next week."

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