REUTERS – Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has said he has huge respect for his Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger and was keen to end his long-running feud with the Frenchman.
Allardyce, who has not beaten Arsenal since May, 2010 and lost his previous eight matches against Wenger, has a well-documented feud with the Frenchman, which was inspired largely by Wenger’s accusation of attempted gamesmanship.
Allardyce said he no longer deployed such tactics as the two sides prepare for their Premier League clash on Saturday.
“It was about my life in the early years. My life’s not like that now. I’m completely different now,” Allardyce told reporters.
“I had some good fun with Arsene in the early years. I got under his skin. Our meetings have been much more amicable since, on and off the field.
“I’ve always had a huge amount of respect for him. Winding up was just a procedure we used a long time ago but I’m not sure it makes a difference to players on the field.”
Teams like Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers were known to rough teams up with a physical approach during Allardyce’s reign, but the 61-year-old said those days are gone.
“I don’t particularly like controversy. Discipline is a massive part of being successful in football. Self-discipline as an individual and as a team,” Allardyce said.
“With experience you learn more about the game. You prioritise much better, you’re calmer and you learn to handle things.”
Sunderland sit fourth from bottom in the league table and will hope to extend their winning streak to three games when they take on fourth-placed Arsenal.
(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)