ALLARDYCE: FINAL IS NO GRUDGE MATCH
Sam Allardyce insists he has no axe to grind with Blackpool ahead of West Ham's Wembley encounter with his former club.
The Hammers boss is potentially 90 minutes from a return to the Barclays Premier League, 18 months after he was sacked by Blackburn's owners Venky's.
Standing in his way in Saturday's play-off final are the Seasiders, the club where Allardyce cut his managerial teeth before he was also ruthlessly shown the door after narrowly missing out on promotion to Division One in 1996.
But the 57-year-old says he bears no grudges ahead of the £90million promotion shoot-out.
"It's long gone, water under the bridge," he said.
"At the time it was devastating because I thought I might have been lost to football, I thought I might not get back into the game.
"Luckily that wasn't the case but the experience I gained as a manager has stood me in good stead to go on and do better things, so I have no axe to grind with Blackpool."
Allardyce is halfway through a two-year contract at Upton Park but knows questions will be raised about his position if, just as with Blackpool, his current team falter in the play-offs.
The Hammers, relegated 12 months ago, were pre-season favourites for promotion but were edged into third by Reading and Southampton.
Allardyce promised to take them back up within a year and is well aware of the price of failure - for both himself and the club.
"I would have thought that come Saturday we won't be talking my job, apart from taking the club back into the Premier League," he added.
"But if it is not the case for whatever reason, somebody will say, 'will your job be safe?'
"When that comes around I can answer it. For now, my focus is on the team and getting the best out of the team to try and win the most important game for this club since the last time Alan Pardew took them up through the play-offs.
"That is how important it is. It is important for the status of everyone at the club, particularly for myself and my staff and the players who require Premier League status again.
"It gives them a greater standing in the game. It gives us all a greater status in the game, a huge amount of revenue into this club and it gives us worldwide branding.
"We all know how important it is from both sides - the football side and the financial side."
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