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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Big Sam's reliance on self-belief pays off

Sam Allardyce has revealed his confidence in his own ability got him through the darkest hours of Newcastle's recent poor run.

The Magpies head into tomorrow's Premier League clash with Birmingham at St James' Park looking for their first win in seven attempts.

However, they do so having stopped a run of two successive home defeats with a spirited display against leaders Arsenal on Wednesday evening which brought them a point and might have resulted in all three.

The knives were out for Allardyce in certain quarters as the Gunners headed north, but while he admitted he had been losing sleep in the run-up to the game, he insisted his self-belief never deserted him.

He said: 'For me in my position, I am experienced enough to handle whatever comes my way because I have been in it so long and I have dealt with it for so long.

'It is getting more and more scrutinised and more and more pressure comes on, but all you have to do is make sure you can handle that pressure and do what you know is right.

'You do not listen to outside influences, you do not listen to speculation.

'You know you are a good manager, you know what you are doing and you stick to it. You do not let the distractions put you off.

'When you do, or when the players do, that's when you get poor performances and poor results.'

Newcastle last won on October 22, when they beat Tottenham 3-1 on Tyneside, a result which left them with 17 points from their first nine games and an encouraging start to the campaign.

However, four defeats in the five matches which followed had sent Allardyce to the head of the betting for the next top-flight managerial casualty.

The 53-year-old admits the pressure on managers is increasing all the time, and warned that could put good young bosses off.

He said: 'I am not so sure there are that many capable of doing it now.

'It is a very specialised area now and you need to be in an extremely knowledgeable and experienced position to be able to handle today's Premier League.

'If you make it more volatile, then you make it very difficult to cope with the pressure that comes with it.

'For me, it has always been about breeding our own and there are many good young managers down in the lower divisions who deserve to get a chance to come up here one way or the other.

'They should really come up here by showing what they can do at that level, but that does not happen for them any more, so they get disillusioned.'

Allardyce will hope to add three points to the one he collected in midweek by denting Alex McLeish's start at Birmingham following a 3-2 win at Spurs first time out.

Injuries continue to hamper the Newcastle boss, although he will hope for better news of Abdoulaye Faye, Claudio Cacapa, Stephen Carr and perhaps even Michael Owen.