Allardyce plays down rivalry with ‘bad loser’ Benitez
10:13 01 December 2012
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce insists the focus is on his players when they face Chelsea today, not on what might happen in the dugout with old rival Rafael Benitez.
There has been little love lost between the pair since they had a clash of style and words when they were managers of Blackburn and Liverpool.
The feud started when Allardyce felt Benitez had made a ‘game over’ hand gesture when Liverpool went 2-0 up against his Blackburn side in 2009.
Spanish coach Benitez had sarcastically suggested Barcelona were looking at imitating what he felt was Blackburn’s robust style, while Allardyce declared the issues had become “personal”, adding “that’s why I don’t like him and the feeling is probably mutual”.
However, Allardyce insists today must be all about what his West Ham players can do on the pitch as they aim to avoid a third straight Premier League defeat.
“There is always a mental battle and I think the bottom line is whatever managers say between themselves, people can construe one way or the other, but it is about your players going out and doing it,” he said.
“You can use certain things in what you do prior or during the game and, from my point of view, I always see it as good banter.
“Does it effect players? I don’t know. I am not so sure it does. It is one of those things, we can’t all get on can we?
“We might not have got on so well over the years, but it is a long time ago and a lot of water under a bridge since then.”
Allardyce said: “I suppose what he didn’t like was getting beaten. It’s always been the way, but as far as I am concerned this is the top level, so you can pit your wits against every manager.
“Every manager is different and you will weigh up the tactics they like to play and get yours ready.
“If you get it right you can upset the big boys, Liverpool were at the time and we managed to upset them.”
Allardyce insists his focus has to remain on West Ham’s gameplan, not possible touchline tantrums with his opposite number.
He added: “Chelsea are coming as a fantastic football side that won the FA Cup and the Champions League, so I am more concerned about the players they are going to pick and how they are going to set up and how my team are going to cope with that, than what Rafa’s going to say about me.
“It would give me no more satisfaction than beating any other manager - the satisfaction would be fantastic if we can get a result against Chelsea.”