Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce insists master tactician Diego Simeone would be branded “boring” in the Barclays Premier League.
Allardyce marvelled on Wednesday evening as Simeone’s Atletico Madrid, having done much the same to the mighty Barcelona in the last eight, turned in a superb defensive display in the home leg of their Champions League semi-final clash with Bayern Munich to send themselves into next week’s decider in Germany with a 1-0 lead.
Allardyce’s team have collected three clean sheets in their last four games after going 17 in all competitions without one to the manager’s intense frustration. He is confident as he prepares for tomorrow’s trip to Stoke that an extension of that record over the four remaining fixtures will secure the Black Cats’ top-flight status.
He said: “Seeing Atletico Madrid last night, how they played and how they then defended what they had against a side that is one of the favourites to win the Champions League and is well ahead in the German league...
“It’s an art, defending - everybody has forgotten that - it’s a tactical art to be able to sense danger and block people’s crosses and get your toe in without fouling them now, and they are very, very good at it indeed.
“The whole team buys into it. You see Fernando Torres on the edge of his own box defending - you never saw that at Liverpool or Chelsea. That’s how good the manager is and that’s why they are successful. They are successful because they concede fewer goals than everybody else and only need one to win in.
“Now, everybody can say, ‘Well, that’s not entertaining’, but everybody is eulogising Simeone’s tactics now. I wouldn’t think they would do that in the Premier League so much. ‘He’s boring this guy, he defends too much’ - that’s what he’d get here. But, at the moment, if we keep those clean sheet ratios going next four games, we will stay up.”
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