(Reuters) – Jose Mourinho’s sacking by Chelsea has left Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce uncertain what to expect from the struggling champions when his team visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Mourinho was given his marching orders on Thursday after a dreadful run of results have left the club hovering a point above the Premier League relegation zone in 16th place, three points above Sunderland in 19th.
Chelsea attributed the dismissal to a “palpable discord” between the Portuguese and the players, and while Allardyce expects a reaction from the team, he is also intrigued by how the reaction from the fans might affect matters on the pitch.
“I’m not sure whether it’ll make my job harder or not to be honest,” Allardyce told the British media.
“Everybody expects a reaction when a manager gets sacked, and sometimes there is and sometimes there isn’t.
“I always think it’s quite a sad state of affairs when a team actually plays better when their manager has been sacked.
“I find it irresponsible from a players’ point of view, especially when they come out after the game and say: ‘We’ve done that for the old manager’.
“I think there will be a reaction from their players but I also think what happens with the crowd could be interesting.”
Allardyce knows that inflicting a 10th Premier League defeat of the season on Chelsea could make a crucial difference to Sunderland’s campaign.
“It’s fair to say that if we were to win, it would put a huge amount of pressure on Chelsea because we’d end up on 15 points, the same as they are,” he said.
“That would take them further down the league and it would be a huge success for us.
“Their players haven’t seen this before. They have had huge pressure at the top but the pressure down here is different.”
(Writing by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)