BIG SAM’S booming voice could be heard across the training ground.
His message was crystal clear: “You’ll do it my way from now on, or you’re getting relegated”.
Allardyce had seen enough, calling an abrupt end to a mishmash of a practice match on the weekend of the FA Cup fifth round on February 18.
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His Crystal Palace players were short of confidence, still in the bottom three after a 4-0 defeat against Sunderland at Selhurst Park and another loss, this time to Stoke, the following week.
Some wanted to play their way out of trouble, others wanted to persevere with the hybrid system Alan Pardew had been trying to introduce since the start of the season.
What happened next was the start of a revival that has seen Palace beat Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in a remarkable 23 days.
Who says Spurs won’t be next at Selhurst Park tonight?
Allardyce has done the business down there, he really has.
The 3-0 victory over Arsenal was one of the most controlled, measured, comprehensive victories in Palace’s 112-year history.
Allardyce has got them going, giving his players purpose after taking time to settle into his new role.
When Palace were beaten 3-0 by one of his former clubs West Ham in January, he was showing real signs of wear and tear. He had lost the England job, the pinnacle of his career, when the Daily Telegraph’s undercover reporting team turned him over.
But Steve Parish had no hesitation employing him on December 23, convinced that most people would be embarrassed by pub chatter if they were filmed talking to supposed friends over a few ales.
Palace’s principal owner wanted Big Sam — the man who kept up Sunderland, West Ham and Bolton, whatever the circumstances.
When Palace finally got on a winning run, Allardyce admitted it took him a while to feel like his old self again. He sure looks the part now.
It was his call to bring in Mamadou Sakho from Liverpool in the final throes of January’s transfer window when Parish was holding a tense, trans-Atlantic phone call with US investors Josh Harris and David Blitzer.
Along with a sizeable loan fee and £100,000-a-week wages, the three directors were weighing up the gamble when Allardyce came out of the dressing room after a gutsy 2-0 win at Bournemouth.
“Yes or no, Sam?” Parish asked. “Yes,” was his emphatic, no-nonsense response.
Palace signed the France international defender with five minutes to spare.
By then they already had Jeffrey Schlupp, Patrick van Aanholt, Luka Milivojevic in the bag.
Sakho, who made his Palace debut in the 1-0 win over Middlesbrough on February 25, has been a monster at the back.
Palace will move heaven and earth to sign this towering presence in the summer.
His friendship with Christian Benteke has also helped to get the best out of the Belgium international forward.
Bentigoal, with five in five, scored twice against his former club Liverpool in Sunday’s victory.
Allardyce, with his reputation shredded after the England experience, is on a big run.
Most managers, no matter how much silverware they have and now matter how much success they have had, have so many insecurities. Allardyce does not — he wants the best people in key positions.
Parish encouraged him to bring in his own men, to hire Sammy Lee as assistant manager and to follow through with the appointment of Dr Ryland Morgans as head of performance.
Lee is the players’ pal, giving them focus and motivation after the dressing room finally caved in to Allardyce’s methods.
Andros Townsend, especially, has benefited from Lee’s guidance after the winger’s January move back to Newcastle fell through.
Allardyce is more aloof, watching from afar as the coaching staff — with Lee and the unwavering support of the sprightly Kevin Keen — taking the players at the start of the week.
Big Sam makes his presence felt in the 48 hours before fixtures, laying out the formation and the tactics to guide Palace towards safety.
They responded with four straight victories against Middlesbrough, West Brom, Watford and Chelsea taking them clear of the bottom three.
Palace have been transformed, with their resilience and fitness a key part of their rise to 12th in the table.
Morgans is another influential figure with a mini pre-season programme designed for the players paying off in the crucial, last 20 minutes of matches.
Allardyce believes their high-end aerobic fitness is the reason they held on to precious, cherished victories against Chelsea and Liverpool.
Palace invested in altitude masks and fitness bikes as Morgans started to monitor and scrutinise player performance on a daily basis.
Wayne Hennessey is one of those who is benefiting the most. The Wales goalkeeper has lost nearly ten pounds since Allardyce’s new regime started to take shape.
Last month’s training trip to Morocco, where the players topped up on vitamin D in the sun, is another key performance indicator.
When Palace returned they beat Watford and then stunned leaders Chelsea with a 2-1 victory at the Bridge.
When Allardyce spoke with Parish on the steps of the team bus following that dramatic 2-1 win at Anfield, he conceded they were on a remarkable run.
Tonight, ahead of their clash with second-placed Tottenham under the lights at Selhurst, they are just seven points away from mathematical safety.
When they get there, Big Sam will have plenty to say.