Toon manager Allardyce could get a taste of his own medicine


Last updated at 22:28 03 January 2008

Big, powerful players,

high balls, long throws

and highly effective setpieces:

for a man who

turned Bolton into the

team everyone hated to play,

Sam Allardyce will recognise

the danger posed by a Stoke

side threatening to terminate

Newcastle's FA Cup hopes and

quite possibly his own job.

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The biter bit? The irony will not be

lost on Arsene Wenger and Rafael Benitez

if Allardyce gets a taste of his own

medicine in the Potteries on Sunday.

The managers of Arsenal and

Liverpool were more upset than most

by Bolton's physical approach and

reliance on set-pieces to unsettle more

graceful opponents.

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Allardyce took the criticism as a backhanded

compliment from rivals with

more money and better players who

were unable to counter his route one


How ironic it would be for Big

Sam to fall to a side playing to the

Bolton blueprint.

But there was more to Bolton than

humping the ball up to the big man —

and the same can be said of Stoke.

Just like Allardyce's Bolton, Tony

Pulis' side are splitting opinion.


Jimmy Armfield described them as the

best team he has seen in the Championship

this season.

Sheffield United

manager Bryan Robson branded them

"the Wimbledon of old".

"That really upset us," said a Stoke

insider. "It was mentioned in the buildup

to the game when we played them at

Bramall Lane a month later and we

went 3-0 up inside 20 minutes."

It would be harsh to saddle any team

with a long-ball tag when the explosive Ricardo Fuller is leading an attack supported

by Liam Lawrence, Richard

Cresswell and Rory Delap.

But there is

no doubt that Pulis likes to build his

teams on pace and power — particularly

in attack — and for that he makes

no excuses.

It is how the 49-year-old Welshman

has done it throughout a managerial

career that began at Bournemouth,

where he served as assistant to Harry

Redknapp before heading to

Gillingham, Bristol City, Portsmouth,

Plymouth and two spells at Stoke.

The first saw Ade Akinbiyi and Gifton

Noel-Williams leading the line. These

days it is the 6ft 3in Fuller, Vincent

Pericard (6ft 1in), Jon 'The Beast'

Parkin (6ft 4in) and Mamady Sidibe

(6ft 4in) who is reluctantly joining up

with Mali for the African Nations Cup

after this match.

Promising Stoke youngster Martin

Paterson left for Scunthorpe in the


At 5ft 9in, he had little chance

of playing up front for Pulis without the

use of a rack — or stilts.

Hardly surprising, then, that Stoke

take advantage of their set-pieces.

Delap can launch the ball from a throwin

further than almost any other player

in the Football League while defender

Ryan Shawcross — on loan from

Manchester United — has benefited

from set-pieces to score seven goals

this season.

Worryingly for Allardyce, his centreback

partner Leon Cort has weighed in

with another four, even though he only

joined the club in November.

It all points to the strong possibility

of a cup upset at the expense of

Allardyce and his beleaguered side at Stoke, for whom the game is the

biggest since Everton and Paul

Gascoigne visited the Britannia

Stadium at the same stage of the

competition six years ago.

But Newcastle would be mistaken if

they thought Stoke are whipping themselves

up into a frenzy over this one.

Following the draw with Hull on New

Year's Day, Pulis gave his players two

days off and went to see Manchester

City pile yet more pressure on

Allardyce with a 2-0 win at St James'

Park before retiring to his home in

Bournemouth, not far from his old pal


Keeping his family and a house on the

south coast might seem odd for the

manager of Stoke, but his longdistance

lifestyle is nothing compared

to that of Dave Kemp.

Stoke's 54-year-old assistant manager

shares a house with coach Mark

O'Connor during the season and

spends his summers at home in

California, where he settled after finishing

his playing career in the States.

It won't surprise Robson to know that

Kemp's CV includes a stint on Wimbledon's

coaching staff when they beat

Liverpool in the 1988 Cup Final and he

still keeps in touch with Dons' old

warhorse Vinnie Jones

When Kemp missed the start of

pre-season training last summer, Pulis

was happy to call on an old acquaintance

who was in between jobs.


man? Gary Megson, now striving to

build on Allardyce's legacy at Bolton.

Sam could be forgiven for fearing his

past is about to catch up with him.