Big Sam slams UEFA over fixtures

September 8, 2006

Bolton boss Sam Allardyce has launched a scathing attack on the UEFA fixture planners who have left him without his senior stars for three weeks in the opening month of the new campaign.

GettyImagesSam Allardyce: A Premier League stalwart.

Last month Premiership managers found themselves in the unusual position of preparing for the opening game with most of their players on international duty.

After just three matches they lost them again for 10 days, causing another difficult preparation for this weekend's round of matches.

At a time when the price of success and failure is greater than it has ever been, Allardyce feels the situation is totally unacceptable.

'The season has been going for four weeks and in three or them I have been starved of the players we pay and are supposed to look after,' said Allardyce, whose side take on newly-promoted Watford at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday.

'From a tactical and coaching point of view, it is just not on. To have so few opportunities to work with your own players is a situation which just should not be allowed.

'I had an hour with them on the training ground on Thursday and will have another hour on Friday - and that is it.

'Effectively, we are relying on players' instincts to get a result rather than actually, as coaches, being allowed to prepare them.

'If I am going to be criticised for the work I am doing here, I want to accept it as being my fault.

'I could not do that at the moment because I have had no time to work on the systems and tactics we already have in place, let alone instigate any new ones.'

Allardyce's worry is that Watford - who lose less players than most - will be far more organised than his own side, who have picked up four points from their opening three games.

However, Hornets chief Adrian Boothroyd could also point to a likely Bolton debut for £8million record signing Nicolas Anelka as evidence the hosts have little to complain about.

With Stelios Giannakopoulos joining Kevin Davies on the sidelines after picking up a groin injury, Allardyce has little option other than to hand Anelka his first start, even though he is cautioning against fans expecting too much too soon from the 27-year-old.

'While it would be nice to get a big contribution from Nicolas against Watford, I don't want to exert too much pressure on him because he only played three pre-season games for Fenerbahce,' said Allardyce.

'We need to be patient and we need to wait because, in the end, we know he will produce his best.'