Sam Allardyce calls for cool heads
Sam Allardyce has appealed for calm on all sides ahead of Sunday's hotly-anticipated local derby between Blackburn Rovers and Burnley.
The two Lancastrian rivals meet in the top flight for the first time since 1966 when Owen Coyle's Clarets travel to Ewood Park and the region is in a state of heightened anticipation given the deep-seated rivalry between the two sets of fans.
But Allardyce has called on all those in attendance to keep a cool head, not least his own players who will be determined to inflict a fifth away defeat of the season on Burnley.
"It's a huge responsibility, not only for the players but the fans and the officials," said Allardyce. "I will be emphasising to my players not to over-react which can happen with the adrenaline rush which comes in this particular derby.
"Sometimes the red light comes on, the red mist comes down and I hope that's not going to be any of our players on Sunday. I'm not trying to put any extra more pressure on the officials - Chris Foy and his assistants are very experienced so they will understand what it's about.
"Chris will have handled derby matches before and will know what's going on and calming players down with the right word in their ear at the right time will be very important.
"This match has been talked about since Burnley got promoted as it has been so long since they met each other in the league. We have been in the Premier League for ten years now and are an established top-flight side so that means everyone expects us to win but it's not like that in a derby.
"For the fans we feel we have to win. We know the responsibility that lies on us. I'm sure many Blackburn and Burnley fans work together and we want the Blackburn fans to go home as happy as they can be and looking forward to getting up and going to work on Monday morning and bumping into that Burnley fan saying 'we've got one over on you'."
The two clubs last met in 2005 when Rovers defeated Burnley in the FA Cup, but last season the Clarets secured promotion to the top flight to join their rivals in the Premier League for the first time since its inception in 1992-93.
Burnley boss Owen Coyle admits the importance of the fixture only became clear to him after he arrived at Turf Moor in November 2007.
"I had two-and-a-half brilliant years at Bolton and absolutely loved it, and Blackburn and Burnley were just along the road. But I wasn't aware of the rivalry at all," Coyle said.
"But I think I was in the job here five minutes when I came out of a press conference and somebody who worked at the football club came up to me and said 'listen, all the best - but make sure you beat the Rovers when you play them'! I thought 'we're in a different division to begin with!' But it struck home straightaway, that intense rivalry."