LONDON – Sam Allardyce has cancelled the Everton players’ Christmas party and laid down the law about the standards he expects from them during the festive period.
The squad had intended to hold their annual get-together after Monday’s game against Swansea at Goodison Park, as there is a five-day gap before the next match at home to Chelsea, but new manager Allardyce has intervened.
Though Everton’s results have picked up over the last fortnight, their campaign has been one of disappointment and Allardyce, after surveying the situation, has told the players he wants them to wait until the new year.
The 63-year-old does not want their focus to be distracted ahead of a run that sees them play West Bromwich Albion, Bournemouth and Manchester United in seven days and he has warned there will be consequences should anyone step out of line. Allardyce said: “I’ve stopped the Christmas party because it is not needed at the moment because of the position we were in when I arrived here.
“I told the players I will pay them back when they come out of Christmas into January. We will socialise but we can socialise at the right time. It is very important that the players — in today’s environment with social media — are not seen to be out enjoying themselves too much.
“A lot has been asked of them, playing in Europe and with injuries. So the party is off until there is a period of time when we are in a very good position. Then I can say to the lads, “Have a relaxing time, which you deserve”. But I don’t want a call telling me they have been in trouble because they will be in more trouble with me.”
There has been a noticeable improvement in the atmosphere at the club’s training base since Allardyce and his assistant Sammy Lee arrived two weeks ago but there has also been a code of conduct implemented, such as players being fined £100 for using mobile phones in prohibited areas. What has helped more than anything, however, is a four-game unbeaten run and tonight Everton will have the chance to extend that sequence at Newcastle United, a team in freefall.
The game will see Allardyce and Rafa Benitez resume their rivalry. Such was the animosity between the pair, Allardyce said in his autobiography that Liverpool’s 2005 Champions League success had “nowt to do” with the Spaniard.
But Allardyce says the feud is now over and explained: “It’s all water under the bridge isn’t it? Two managers pitted their wits against each other. It was the same with Arsene Wenger. We used to have a bit of a tete-a-tete. I used to enjoy that scenario when I was younger.”
© Daily Mail