Sam Allardyce has sought to ease tensions with the Everton support by insisting the club’s history and ambition are far greater than at Newcastle United or West Ham United.
The Everton manager received fierce criticism from fans last week for claiming the expectation and pressure at Goodison Park are the same as at two of his previous clubs. Defeat at Burnley the following day, Everton’s sixth consecutive loss on the road, sparked open hostility towards Allardyce from the travelling support.
With only two wins in 12 matches the pressure is rising on the former England manager and he was clearly aware of the discontent when giving a conciliatory press conference to preview Brighton’s visit to Goodison on Saturday. In it, he clarified the comment that had caused resentment among Evertonians.
“Every clubs’ fans have a lot of passion but like I said at the time the history of Everton is far greater than that of Newcastle and West Ham,” Allardyce said. “Every fan has great demands and, when there are big crowds, the demands are bigger. For me Everton is completely different from Newcastle or West Ham but it was just a comparison, it wasn’t anything other than that.
“The ambition of Everton is different to Newcastle and different to West Ham but, if you don’t play as well as they expect you to do, they show their disapproval and that’s what you have to deal with as a manager. You have to turn that around and get everyone behind you. Our fans at home have been fantastic and have got behind the team even when they are not playing too well. Certainly in the last two home games they have been fantastic.”
Allardyce admitted Brighton’s visit is “massively important” to Everton’s attempts to stay clear of relegation danger but insisted the pressure and the criticism had not changed his desire to manage the club long term.
He said: “There are tough times and times when you have to close the doors and stay focused on what you want to try to achieve. It is disappointing for everyone, myself included, that we have slipped where we have slipped to, having put ourselves in such a fantastic position during the early stages of me walking through the door.
“I came out of retirement because there was a long-term plan at Everton, a long-term aspect of going forward which I was excited to be a part of and understanding the history of Everton football club. I know all about Everton and what it demands and what you have to try to achieve, and that it was an exciting prospect going forward. I want it to be a long-term appointment.”