Big Sam backs Hammers to nail it

The npower Championship play-off final at Wembley is widely regarded as the biggest game in club football — but Sam Allardyce says he felt more pressure facing Middlesbrough at home in a relegation battle.

Allardyce will lead his West Ham side out against either Birmingham or Blackpool on May 19 after they completed an impressive 5-0 aggregate win over Cardiff yesterday.

Promotion to the top flight may be worth an estimated £90million to the winners, but ‘Big Sam’ claims he faced a bigger game when he was Bolton boss on the final day of the 2002/03 season.

“I think there was more pressure at Bolton when we had to beat Middlesbrough at home to stay up,” said the Hammers’ chief.

“I probably shouldn’t have mentioned this because West Ham went down instead! But that was more pressure than a Wembley final, having one game to do it. The good thing was we knew if we won, we stayed up.

“And we went on to become a fantastic unit from thereon in. The difference in what the history of Bolton Wanderers might have been was massive, because they are still in the Premier League now.

“So we’ll handle this pressure. It’s a better stage to go and deliver, Wembley, rather than playing at home in the last game of the season with everyone cr*pping themselves.”


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