Leeds boss Sam Allardyce believes his side can take a giant leap towards Premier League safety with victory against Newcastle in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off.
Allardyce, appointed by Leeds eight days ago in a last-ditch bid to retain top-flight status, takes charge of his first match at Elland Road for the club, who sit second bottom and two points from safety with three games to go.
The former England manager said: “The biggest thing that can happen is not lose. If we got three points I’d be 40 or 50 per cent thinking we could stay safe.
“We still have to win some games. We won’t stay up on 30 points. If we get nine points we’ll stay up, if we get six we might stay up. I want to be still in it when we play Tottenham (on the final day).”
Allardyce was sacked by Newcastle in early 2008 after just eight months in charge, but insisted that would not give him extra motivation to deal their top-four hopes a blow.
“It’s a long time ago,” the 68-year-old said. “Was I disappointed? Yes. What did it do to my career? Massive knock-back.
“But I always recover and move on. It was an opportunity, but in the end I couldn’t avoid a change of ownership that was unexpected.”
Mike Ashley had taken control of Newcastle from Freddy Shepherd six months earlier and Allardyce added: “It was a blow to my career at that time because I wanted to take Newcastle as far as I could, like they’re doing now.”
Newcastle lost 2-0 to Arsenal last week, but have won eight of their last 10 league games to stay on course for Champions League football next season.
Allardyce said the Magpies’ transformation this term under manager Eddie Howe was not just down to the mega-riches provided by current Saudi owners, the Public Investment Fund.
“If it doesn’t all come together, your relationship with the owners and the recruitment and the whole building of a football club is imperative to your success,” Allardyce said.
“If you get the right players, as they have done…I think what they have done is they’ve not got sucked into the usual hell-for-leather spend, spend, spend like Chelsea.
“The way they have spent, slowly but surely, position by position, not over-extending the price that they pay and refusing to pay the inflated price that everybody thinks they’re going to get because they’ve got a mega-rich owner, they’ve resisted all that and now they’ve had the benefit.”
Allardyce, who has three games left to keep Leeds in the top flight for a fourth season, was pleased with their “fight and determination” in his first match in charge, which ended in a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City.
After Newcastle’s visit they play West Ham away and then host Tottenham in their last match.
Allardyce added: “It won’t be over if we lose (on Saturday), but to give ourselves the best chance we have to try and at least get a point on the board.”
Allardyce, still without injured skipper Liam Cooper, does not expect USA captain Tyler Adams to feature again this season after he had hamstring surgery in March.