Sam Allardyce labelled ‘deluded’ after Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp comparison

Jamie Carragher has criticised Sam Allardyce after the new Leeds manager said he was the managerial equal of Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta.

Veteran Allardyce was installed at Leeds this week, replacing Javi Gracia and returning to management nearly two years after his last coaching role.

The 68-year-old prompted raised eyebrows at his unveiling at the Yorkshire club when he said that “nobody” was ahead of him “in football terms”, name-checking Guardiola, Klopp and Arteta.

“In terms of knowledge and depth of knowledge, I’m up there with them,” Allardyce said. “I’m not saying I’m better than them, but certainly as good as they are.”

Allardyce is one of the Premier League’s most experienced managers and had not been relegated from the English top flight as a manager until going down with West Brom at the end of the 2020/21 season, but has never won a major trophy in English football.

And Carragher feels Allardyce’s comments would have been received differently if they had been made by a coach with a comparable track record.

“Allardyce has built up enough good will for people to see it as ‘Big Sam being Big Sam’ when he makes such headline-grabbing remarks,” Carragher wrote in a column for The Telegraph. It makes for excellent, entertaining copy. You have to admire the bravado.

“Not many others would get away with it.

“Can you imagine the reaction if an overseas coach with no major honours to his name introduced himself to a Premier League club in such a way? How would Brighton’s manager, Roberto de Zerbi, have been received had he declared himself on the same level of two of the most successful managers of the modern era? At best ill-advised, and at worst deluded.”

Allardyce’s Leeds take on Manchester City in his first game in charge.

Guardiola’s side are back on top of the Premier League and will retain their title if they close the season without dropping points.

A third crown in a row would be the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager’s fifth in total since taking charge at the Etihad, and Carragher believes Allardyce is wrong to downplay the influence both Guardiola and Klopp have had.

The former Liverpool defender continued: “I’m a massive believer that football is enhanced by different styles. It would be boring if every coach wanted to play like Guardiola or Klopp.

“What I object to is the suggestion that these great managers are not truly worthy of their place above their peers, as if their success is more a consequence of opportunity than talent.

“Guardiola and Klopp are genuine game-changers. The levels of coordination between all 11 players (including the goalkeeper) in Guardiola’s Barcelona and Manchester City team are of another level. Nobody was playing like this 20 years ago, let alone in the Seventies and Eighties. Why pretend or argue otherwise?”

Leeds are currently 17th and only out of the relegation zone on goal difference.

After their encounter with Manchester City, the club face Newcastle and West Ham before closing their season by hosting Tottenham.