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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 30, 2009

Allardyce backs Diouf to win over doubtful fans

Blackburn Rovers manager Sam Allardyce is convinced El-Hadji Diouf will win over the Rovers boo-boys who have never forgiven a player viewed as a cheat.

After spending three years together at Bolton Wanderers, Allardyce and Diouf were reunited on Friday after Blackburn paid Sunderland £2million for the often-controversial Senegal striker.

It is a deal, though, that does not sit well with Rovers supporters, who voiced their criticism and concern a fortnight ago when the 28-year-old was first linked with a move to Blackburn.

Diouf has always been roundly jeered whenever he has faced Rovers, stemming back to an incident four years ago when he dived to win a penalty for Bolton in a game at Ewood Park.

Replays showed then goalkeeper Brad Friedel made no contact with Diouf, who won the game by firing home the rebound after the American goalkeeper had saved the initial spot-kick.

Allardyce, however, believes, if can get Diouf back playing to his best after an unhappy seven months with Sunderland, memories of such an infamous night will be forgotten.

''He is a talented player,'' said Allardyce. ''He can be a little wayward, as everybody knows, but hopefully I'll be able to control him as much as I did when I was at Bolton.

''If I can do that, then I'll get the best out of him. ''In the time I spent with him we always finished in the top half of the Premier League, no lower than eighth, and we played in Europe.

''Hopefully, he can bring his ability, his trickery, to Ewood Park and delight some of the Blackburn fans.''

When reminded of Diouf's diving antics that won Allardyce the game that night four years ago, with a chuckle the Rovers manager said: ''And nobody has ever done that for Blackburn in the past, have they not?

''If he goes and plays to his best then they (the fans) will soon take to him because he is talented.

''I just have to make sure he's ready and available, and he produces the best he can, because his best is very good - and normally it doesn't come this cheap.''

As to ensuring Diouf fires on all cylinders, Allardyce has a method of working with him he developed during their time at Bolton.

''Knowing him as long as I have, and understanding his personality, means I probably will put up with more than most managers would,'' commented Allardyce.

''I won't be soft. I can be as hard as I need to be, but I can be encouraging, reminding him of the things he needs to do, not just on the field, but off it.

''I have to make sure he doesn't let himself, me or the club down. After a sticky start, our relationship at Bolton improved, and I now want to continue that at Blackburn.''

There will be no immediate return to the North East for Diouf, though, as Blackburn failed to complete the transfer by the noon deadline ahead of Saturday's game at Middlesbrough.

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