Sam Allardyce has admitted that he enjoyed beating Arsenal more than any other team during his time at Bolton Wanderers.
In his new autobiography, serialised in The Sun, the new Sunderland manager says that beating Arsenal gave him immense pleasure when he was in charge at Bolton and has launched a scathing attack on Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger where he describes the Frenchman as an “arrogant” manager and a “bad loser”.
“I enjoyed beating Arsenal more than anyone when I was in charge at Bolton,” said Allardyce. “We’d really got to them and Arsène Wenger hated us.
Allardyce mentions that Wenger struggles to accept defeat in a game and takes it too personally.
“There was one time he wouldn’t shake hands with me at Highbury because we got a draw. I saw him ripping his tie off and throwing it on the floor in anger.
“He takes it all very personally and has an air of arrogance.”
To be fair, Allardyce’s Bolton side would regularly cause problems to Arsenal and other big teams with a physical approach to the game. Allardyce notes that Wenger often complained about bad referring whenever Arsenal failed to come up with a good result.
“The more I wound him up, the more I liked it. He tried to influence refs through the media and create a perception that we were bullies committing all the fouls, while his team just wanted to play.
“It seemed he wanted a rule where they should be allowed to do what they wanted with the ball, without us being allowed to tackle them. It was a skill finding their weaknesses and how to exploit them. But when we succeeded the press were usually on about Arsenal having an off-day and the ref being soft.”
Allardyce has also launched a shocking attack on Rafael Benitez, saying the former Liverpool manager does not deserve any credit for Liverpool winning the 2005 Champions League final against AC Milan.
Liverpool went from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at full time, before taking the game to penalty shoot out, where Jerzy Dudek’s heroics saw the Reds winning their fifth European trophy in Istanbul in 2005.
Many believe that Rafa’s tactical switch at half time (bringing Dietmar Hamman in the midfield by withdrawing a defender) turned the game in the Reds’ favour, but Allardyce believes the credit for the remarkable win should be handed entirely to Steven Gerrard.
“Of course he [Benitez] can say he won the Champions League with Liverpool, which is something I never did. But it was nowt to do with him,” said Allardyce.
“Steven Gerrard took that final by the scruff of the neck and dragged Liverpool back from 3-0 down against AC Milan to eventually win on penalties.
“I don’t blame Benitez for claiming credit – but as managers we know the truth. It’s like when you make a substitution in desperation and it comes off. You get all the credit for your tactical brilliance when it’s often just luck.”
Allardyce will take his Sunderland team to the Emirates in December. And one can expect Wenger to not invite him in his office for a drink yet again, irrespective of the result.