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Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
The pressure of the play-offs
Allardyce is hoping it will be third time lucky
Allardyce is hoping it will be third time lucky
BBC Sport Online's Anna Thompson speaks to Bolton Wanderers manager Sam Allardyce.

You can understand why Sam Allardyce isn't a big fan of the play-offs.

Twice he has led a team to the end of season finale.

And twice he has failed.

Allardyce is hoping it will be third time lucky as Bolton Wanderers aim for the Premiership in this season's play-offs.

Many will feel justice will be done if the Trotters are promoted after missing out controversially last season.

Allardyce with Notts County's Div 3 Champions trophy
Allardyce with Notts County's Div 3 Champions trophy

On Sunday, they take on sixth placed West Brom - who finished 13 points below them in the final Division One table - in the first leg with a second leg at the Reebok Stadium on 17 May.

Allardyce told BBC Sport Online: "I don't like the play-offs. There isn't anybody in football who does.

"Only those who nick the final play-off place on the last day of the season are delighted to have made it.

"There is so much at stake. They can make or break a season.

"All the hard slog throughout the season counts for nothing."

Allardyce's first taste of the play-offs came when he was manager of then Second Division side Blackpool in 1996.

To this day I cannot understand why Blackpool sacked me
  Sam Allardyce
He had led the Seasiders to virtual automatic promotion only for them to blow it on the last day with defeat at York City.

They faced Bradford City in the play-off and held a 2-0 lead after the first leg.

But thoughts of a trip to Wembley came crashing down when they lost 3-0 at home.

Allardyce was sacked, even though it was Blackpool's best league finish for nearly two decades.

Allardyce said: "To this day I cannot understand why Blackpool sacked me.

"I was stunned but it didn't put me off football management otherwise I would never have returned.

"It was a long time ago now and looking back Blackpool probably did me a favour."

Ricketts has been a revelation at Bolton
Ricketts has been a revelation at Bolton
Allardyce became academy youth director at Sunderland under Peter Reid before being tempted back into management at Notts County after a seven-month break.

They were crowned Division Three champions in 1998 after amassing a whopping 99 points.

Allardyce stayed with County but in October 1999 he was approached to succeed Colin Todd at Bolton - where he had spent much of his playing career.

His move was controversial and cost Bolton compensation money but Allardyce could not turn down a move to his spiritual home.

Last season, he led them to the semi-finals in both the FA and Worthington Cups and scraped into the play-offs.

It has been even-stevens between us and West Brom this season
  Sam Allardyce

They were beaten by Ipswich, who went on to Premiership glory.

Allardyce is determined to redress the balance this time.

"All the players were disappointed not to go up automatically this season.

"But we haven't got to think about that now.

"I gave most of the first team five days off and rested a lot of them when we played our last game of the season.

"We are now building up gently for Sunday's match."

Allardyce knows West Brom will not be a pushover but he can boast an almost fully fit squad with the exceptions of Nicky Summerbee and Paul Warhurst.

"It has been even-stevens between us and West Brom this season and we need to be composed going into the games.

"West Brom have strikers like (Lee) Hughes and (Jason) Roberts, who get a lot of goals. We have to cope with them."

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