Sam Allardyce reignites feuds with Wenger and Benitez
New Sunderland manager returns to the Premier League just as his autobiography takes aim at managerial rivals
'Big' Sam Allardyce has been unveiled as the new manager of Sunderland and his return to the Premier League has been timed perfectly to concide with the publication of his autobiography – and the renewal of several managerial feuds, including a long-running spat with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whom he brands "arrogant" in the book.
The memoir is being serialised in The Sun and in the excerpts Allardyce stokes the flames of controversy with comments about Jose Mourinho, Louis van Gaal, Rafa Benitez and Wenger.
On Arsene Wenger:
The rivalry with Wenger datges back to Allardyce's time in charge of Bolton, when his physical teams frequently got the better of sophistiocated Arsenal. The pattern continued when Allardyce took over at Blackburn, and in the book the former defender makes it clear that he enjoyed putting Wenger's nose out of joint.
"I enjoyed beating Arsenal more than anyone when I was in charge at Bolton," he writes. "We'd really got to them and Arsene Wenger hated us... He takes it all very personally and has an air or arrogance. He's not one for inviting you into his office for a drink after games.
"He's a fantastic manager, I cannot deny that. But the more I could wind him up, the more I liked it."
On Rafa Benitez:
The new Sunderland boss also has little time for former Liverpool manager Benitez, although their paths are unlikely to cross in the near future. The Spaniard is now in charge of Real Madrid.
He claims that Liverpool's Champions League triumph in 2005, which saw Banitez's team recover from 3-0 down at half time to beat AC Milan, was "nowt to do with him" and was down to a magnificent performance from Steven Gerrard.
"He didn't like me and he thought he was superior," says Allardyce. "Here was a trendy foreign manager with all his smart ideas getting beat by some oik from the Midlands... I can't stand people who disrespect me the way he did."
On Jose Mourinho:
The under-fire Chelsea manager is described as a "pragmatist" by Allardyce who says he "didn't like it" and felt "embarrassed" when his West Ham side beat Chelsea last season.
He recalls how he brushed off criticism from Mourinho after the game and told reporters: "He can't take it because we've outwitted him and he can't cope."
However, he admits that the Portguese is "a far better manager than me" and adds: "His achievements across Europe are incredible and I find it laughable when Chelsea get labelled boring."
On Louis van Gaal:
Allardyce so angered the Man United manager last season that he produced a dossier of statistics in an attempt to refute claims that United had resorted to long-ball tactics. It cut no ice with Allardyce, who is often criticised for being a long-ball specialist.
"Here was yet another big-name manager who couldn't take it when I got a result against them," he says. "Just as with Wenger and Mourinho, a long ball by Van Gaal's team was a clever switch in tactics. But when I did it I was destroying the game. It was laughable."
One manager Allardyce did find time to praise was Alex Ferguson, whom he describes as a "genuine friend".
"[He] was different to the other top managers. If you beat United, he'd still invite you in and open a bottle of red wine."