Big Sam’s words of wisdom

THEY will resume managerial rivalries for the fourth time in Ricky Sbragia’s short career tonight, but the Scot revealed how Sam Allardyce has helped him make the transition from coach to boss.

THEY will resume managerial rivalries for the fourth time in Ricky Sbragia’s short career tonight, but the Scot revealed how Sam Allardyce has helped him make the transition from coach to boss.

Sbragia takes on his old Bolton Wanderers manager at Ewood Park after Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers drew 0-0 in their original FA Cup fourth round clash a week-and-a-half ago.

And he revealed how the former Newcastle United boss took time out the day after to spend an hour on the telephone passing on his experience.

“He spoke to me after the last Cup game, we had about an hour on the phone on the Sunday, just about how things were going and what areas I was finding difficult,” Sbragia said. “He gave me a little bit of advice about how to deal with it myself because I’ve got to be mentally fresh.

“I probably need to delegate a bit more and just try and refresh things and go through my mind. He asked me about difficulties I have had with the job and told me the difficulties he had, and how he dealt with it.”

Sbragia has been fortunate to work with some of the biggest names in football management. He pointed to World Cup winner Sir Alf Ramsey and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson as other influences. The paths of Ramsey and Sbragia briefly overlapped when the latter played for Birmingham City. “He was completely different to everybody else, in the dressing room he’d speak to you individually,” Sbragia recalled. “He’d come in and build you up.

“I was playing once against Billy Ashcroft, who’d been signed by Middlesbrough for so much money and I was playing against him. But Ramsey told me he was nothing, he’s not good enough, he’s lacking in this and that.

“When I left here to go to (Manchester) United I thought I was a decent coach but I was miles behind. Everything they did was simple and I thought maybe I’d been doing it all wrong, which I probably was. That’s when I felt I became a decent coach.”

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