Allardyce: Pressure is worst in Prem

Manchester United are licking their wounds after being knocked out

of the Champions League by Bayern Munich – a result that meant

there is no English club in the semi-finals for the first time

since 2003. But Allardyce, whose Blackburn side take on United at

Ewood Park on Sunday, insists this is not due to a fall in quality.

The Rovers boss said: “I don’t think the Premier League is getting

worse, I would say the demand on the Premier League players is

greater than those playing in Europe and that may be one of the

reasons as to why they have faltered this year. “To make sure they

stay in the top four is a huge amount of pressure on the players

and it’s constant. “We seem to be picking more injuries up than the

foreign clubs are and later on in the season you start paying the

price and this year it looks as though we have. “Look at the fact

Wayne Rooney wasn’t 100% fit the other night and they tried to play

him and he had to come off. “Look at the players Arsenal had

missing, it’s been an unfortunate year for us but I don’t think it

will repeat itself.” Allardyce is relieved that Rooney will not be

available on Sunday and is hoping that the reigning champions’

players will still be feeling the effects of Wednesday’s encounter.

He added: “We would hope there’s some fatigue left in their team.

“Some of the players who played on Wednesday will be playing and

there will be a certain amount of fatigue, physically and mentally,

amongst those players compared to ours. “They are the wounded

animal at the moment but history shows they come fighting back

better than most. “We have to deny them space to get their normal

passing game going and not sitting back.” Allardyce’s biggest

selection dilemma is whether to recall his skipper Ryan Nelsen to

the starting line-up or continue with 18-year-old centre-back Phil

Jones, who has made a dramatic impact in the last four games. In

those four games Blackburn have been unbeaten, conceding just two

goals, winning two matches and holding Chelsea to a 1-1 draw. “With

Phil in that position we have only conceded two goals in the last

four games and in the last two away games we have had two very

important clean sheets,” said the Blackburn manager. “He’s mastered

the art of defending in this short period of time and he’s made me

having to make a big decision this weekend. “To ask him to step in

one occasion was all right but then it became two, three and four

times and the lad has not put a foot wrong yet.” Blackburn have

lost only three out of 27 games on their home turf since Allardyce

became manager in December 2008 and he has a full squad to choose

from with Nelsen, Keith Andrews and Vince Grella all available

after injury.