Allardyce calls in Leeds legends to prepare squad for final-day decider
Sam Allardyce has called on the services of some of Leeds United’s greatest players to ready his squad for the game that will determine whether they stay in the Premier League. Leeds know only victory against Tottenham at Elland Road on Sunday will give them a chance of survival. But that will not be enough if Everton beat Bournemouth or if Leicester, hosting West Ham, match Leeds’s result.
Allardyce has looked to the past to try to motivate his squad and has moved training to Elland Road for three days to help familiarise the players with Sunday’s surroundings. Players such as Eddie Gray, Gary McAllister and Gordon Strachan have spoken to the team about their experiences at Leeds.
“They’ve spoken about how important Leeds is, what it meant to them,” Allardyce said. “A bit more about the history of the football club because they had very successful times here. A different voice talking about football, what they did at this club and how much they love the club is really important.”
Everton Points 33 Goal difference -24 Goals scored 33
A win guarantees survival. A draw will be enough if Leicester fail to win and Leeds do not win by at least three goals. A defeat will suffice if Leicester and Leeds fail to win.
Leicester Points 31 Goal difference -18 Goals scored 49
West Ham, home
Need a victory to have hope of avoiding relegation. That will suffice if Everton draw or lose.
Leeds Points 31 Goal difference -27 Goals scored 47
Must win to have a chance of staying up. If Leicester then fail to win and Everton lose, Leeds will be safe. If Leicester fail to win and Everton draw, Leeds will survive if they beat Spurs by three or more goals.
When asked how his younger players responded to the visits, Allardyce said: “Once they learned who they were and what they’d done, they responded with a great deal of respect. I’ve seen Eddie every other day since I’ve been here. His love for Leeds United, his passion for Leeds United, as well as people like Gary, to hear what it means to them is important.”
Allardyce will give Patrick Bamford as long as possible to prove his fitness and was boosted by Rodrigo training on Friday. The manager said he would be willing to gamble on the fitness of anyone if they put their hand up to play, and reiterated that no talks had been held with Leeds over whether he could remain in charge beyond this season.
“That’s to be decided afterwards,” he said. “It’s always been a case of we will discuss whatever we need to discuss at the end of the season based on where we are. Based on what I think the club needs to go forward and if we’re aligned with each other. But that discussion doesn’t happen in one day, it happens over a period of time. I hope we’re talking in a very positive nature on Monday morning and I have a hangover.”