Jack Harrison says new Leeds manager Sam Allardyce has earned the right to compare with Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta | Football News


Sam Allardyce believes he is “just as good” as Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta – but what do the Leeds players think?

“In his own way, he has the right to say that,” winger Jack Harrison exclusively told Sky Sports. “He’s very experienced and has a lot of knowledge about the game. It’s Sam Allardyce. Everyone knows who he is and it’s for a reason.”

Allardyce, 68, has four games to keep Leeds in the Premier League and made the bold claim in his first press conference that “nobody” is ahead of him in football.

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“He’s an experienced manager,” Leeds left-back Junior Firpo said to Sky Sports. “He’s been managing for 29 years so he has the right [to say it]. He’s been in football a long time and throughout all the changes [in the game], he has been changing as well.”

Leeds’ troubled 2023

  • February 6: Head coach Jesse Marsch sacked after less than a year in charge following a seven-game winless Premier League run
  • Feb 6-21: Interim head coach Michael Skubala takes charge of three games assisted by coaches Paco Gallardo and Chris Armas
  • February 21: Leeds appoint Javi Gracia as head coach on a ‘flexible contract’ a fortnight after sacking Marsch
  • May 2: Leeds sack director of football Victor Orta
  • May 3: Leeds sack Gracia after 12 games in charge and appoint Sam Allardyce for remaining four games

This is the sixth time the one-game England manager has taken over a Premier League club during a season. Each of the previous five were threatened by relegation when he arrived and four of them survived.

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New Leeds manager Sam Allardyce says he is on par with Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta in terms of football knowledge and experience.

The only blot on his record came in his previous job at West Brom in 2020/21. Few envisaged a return, let alone at Leeds, who have torn up any kind of Marcelo Bielsa legacy with four games remaining.

Allardyce has made his message clear to the players about what is needed now.

“It was about confidence. It was clear to him we weren’t playing with confidence,” said Harrison. “That was the first thing he wanted to address, and the other thing is tactically being organised, defending, and not conceding as many goals. Those were the first two things he said and we stripped everything back to basics.

“He has a great reputation of keeping teams in the Premier League. We’re all going to buy into it and give it everything we’ve got.”

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola agrees with Sam Allardyce’s claims that they are on the same level.

Leeds’ biggest problem is at the back where they have conceded the most goals in the division and shipped 23 in April, a new Premier League record for a single month. Fixing their defence has been the focus of Allardyce’s training sessions ahead of a daunting trip to Manchester City on Saturday, live on Sky Sports.

“Basically organisation, how we want to play against Man City, how we want to structure ourselves to concede less goals, and, as Jack said, the main thing is about playing with confidence,” said Firpo.

“Try to make as few mistakes as possible and try to exploit the areas we can damage against other teams, especially Man City.”

Harrison added: “His natural charisma and characteristics, and of his staff, brings a lot of energy into the training sessions and even in the building. It’s given a little bit of lift to the team and even just having that presence has given us a bit of confidence.”

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Sam Allardyce has placed an emphasis on organisation and defending in his first training sessions at Leeds

How to stop Erling Haaland is just one task facing them this weekend.

“That’s a tough question. You can ask this to all the defenders in the Premier League and even the world and they wouldn’t know how to do it,” said Firpo. “He’s a really good player, we’ll try to give him as little space as possible because him running into space is really dangerous.

“We will try to put pressure on the ball on the players who make passes to him, so they don’t have as much time. We’ll try to stop it as a team.”

Leeds face Newcastle, West Ham and Tottenham after this weekend in a bid to extend their Premier League stay for a fourth season. Harrison is adamant they have everything capable of doing so.

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Sam Allardyce explains how he was offered the Leeds job and his enthusiasm is trying to keep the West Yorkshire club in the Premier League.

“We have a great squad, a lot of talented players on the team,” he said. “I don’t believe we should be in the situation we’ve been in. There have been times throughout the season when we haven’t got the results we deserved or we should have got through small mistakes here and there. It’s happened a lot.

“We definitely have the capabilities of being a team in the Premier League, it’s just believing in ourselves to do that. The squad believes that absolutely and believe we can stay up.”

And, in theory, they have the best manager at the helm to do it.

Watch Sam Allardyce’s first game in charge of Leeds as they go to title-chasing Manchester City on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event from 2pm; kick-off 3pm.

Leeds United’s remaining fixtures

May 6: Man City (A) – Premier League, kick-off 3pm, live on Sky Sports

May 13: Newcastle (H) – Premier League, kick-off 3pm

May 21: West Ham (A) – Premier League, kick-off 1.30pm

May 28: Tottenham (H) – Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm

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