Sunderland will have to ‘park the bus’ to help them stay in the Premier League this season, manager Sam Allardyce said after they snatched a scrappy 1-0 win at Crystal Palace on Monday.
Using a term coined by Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho to describe the defensive strategy once employed by Allardyce at Stamford Bridge with his former club West Ham United, he said the tactic would be key to keeping Sunderland up.
The win – Sunderland’s second in the league this season and their first away from home – took them four points above bottom side Aston Villa into 18th place and only a point behind north-east rivals Newcastle United who are just outside the drop zone.
“It’s the way to go, and it really always has been the way to go,” said Allardyce of the tactic, having watched his team concede 26 goals in 13 games – second highest in the top flight.
“We have to frustrate the opposition, there is no doubt about that. As Jose (Mourinho) says ‘we will park the bus’ because we have to. Today we frustrated the crowd, we frustrated Crystal Palace,” he told reporters.
Sunderland’s Younes Kaboul was man of the match for his role in the middle of three central defenders, a formation masterminded by Allardyce.
Sunderland have kept two clean sheets in their two wins this season, the other coming at home against Newcastle.
“Had we lost today it would have been my fault because we played three at the back. I picked that system that they are not used to.
“But when you get a result it gives me more confidence to work at it… and it gives them fewer excuses because they have done it once.”
Allardyce has developed an exact formula required to ensure top-flight survival.
But the win at Selhurst Park on Monday was as much to do with Palace’s own errors as it was ‘Big Sam’s’ tactics.
Former England striker Jermain Defoe snatched the winner 10 minutes from time after Palace defender Scott Dann desperately hacked the ball away from on-rushing goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.
“It is nice to see us capitalising on an opposition’s mistake rather than the opposition doing it to us,” said Allardyce, whose side next face in-form Stoke City at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.