Sam Allardyce tells Leeds United: I'm as good as Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta so why didn't you call me sooner?

As far as Sam Allardyce is concerned, he is the equal of Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta, yet by the time Leeds United gave him a call, he had given up on working in this season's Premier League.

Two years after his only relegation as a manager, with West Bromwich Albion, the 68-year-old has taken on the Whites for their final four matches of the season – the toughest of the "escape acts" he has built his "Fireman Sam" reputation on.

Even Allardyce expressed doubts about whether four games is enough to rescue a demoralised team only above the Premier League relegation zone on goal difference but on top of his tactical, psychological and scientific qualities comes huge self-confidence having successfully been down this road with Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Everton.

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Leeds seemed to take longer to be convinced, opting first for Javi Gracia – after missing out on Carlos Corberan, Andoni Iraola and Arne Slot and changed their mind after a fan backlash against Alfred Schreuder – when they sacked Jesse Marsch in February.

"They've always known where I am but it's never materialised until now," said the former England manager, who built his reputation by taking Bolton Wanderers into Europe.

"Far too many people think I am old and antiquated which is so far from the truth. I might be 68 and look old but there's nobody ahead of me in football terms – not Pep, not Klopp, not Arteta.

"In terms of knowledge and depth of knowledge I'm up there with them. I'm not saying I'm better than them but certainly as good as they are. I just wish sometimes you could get the opportunity to show it but that's never going to happen for me now apart from keeping Leeds up and if I stay this club is big enough to build a team that's going to challenge those boys eventually but that's a long story away.

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"I got one or two (clubs) that weren't in this country (making job offers) and I didn't want to do them.

SELF-CONFIDENCE: New Leeds United manager Sam Allardyce has always believed in himselfSELF-CONFIDENCE: New Leeds United manager Sam Allardyce has always believed in himself
SELF-CONFIDENCE: New Leeds United manager Sam Allardyce has always believed in himself

"I resigned myself this season that all changes had been made but I was at the stage of my life and career where I wasn't actively looking for a job.

"(So) to get the call was quite surprising but it was only a couple of minutes before I said yes and I had to rush through the entire process as quickly as possible to be here for at least a reasonable lead-in to Manchester City (Saturday's first game).

"To try and save this club and keep it in the Premier League is a big responsibility and a big challenge but one I'm prepared to take because of who Leeds United are."

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His coaches, former Oxford United manager Karl Robinson and ex-Leeds striker Robbie Keane, were just as quick to answer the call when long-term assistant Sammy Lee was unable to join.

SACKED: Leeds United coach Javi Gracia was dismissed on TuesdaySACKED: Leeds United coach Javi Gracia was dismissed on Tuesday
SACKED: Leeds United coach Javi Gracia was dismissed on Tuesday

"The judge has left Sammy unemployed because he's on jury service and wouldn't let him off and I find that to be very poor judgement indeed," said Allardyce. "But I've known Karl a long time from my Blackburn days and have always kept in touch with him.

"It was a phone call, 'Yes or no', 'Can I think about it?', 'Yeah, you've got half an hour.'

"I got here at half seven on Wednesday with Karl and I only rang Robbie that morning and he was here already with his bag packed by the afternoon."

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Asked if he could stay longer, Allardyce replied: "It depends what happens at the end of the four matches, how I feel and more importantly how the wife feels."

And on whether keeping Leeds up would be his greatest managerial achievement: "From the great escape point of view, because it's only four games to do it. Thirty-six (points, six more) might be enough but it's no guarantee."

To get them, Allardyce wants his players to be more adaptable than under Gracia, who won three of his first six games but was sacked after one point from his next five.

"(It's) breeding a little bit more confidence and setting a pattern of play, a style, a system, whatever you want to call it, to say this is the way to stop the opposition," he explained. "If you can do that, you can get more possession and more possession higher up the field so you can get more opportunities to attack.

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"Manchester City are the best defence and best attacking team in the league but we've got to try and do whatever we possibly can. Brentford did it, they won, so shocks happen. Whether it will happen on Saturday, who knows?

"I don't think there's too much of a problem with Leeds in possession but there's a massive problem when they haven't got it because of the amount of goals they’ve conceded.

"I've had a meeting with the players (collectively) and the committee of players to air what they think we help us get better.

"I would have expected them to be a bit more miserable.

"I always say to players if everyone improves by two per cent, that's 22 per cent in the team."

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The big question is whether he can make enough of a difference in four games, against Manchester City (away), Newcastle United (home), West Ham United (away) and Tottenham Hotspur (home).

"It all depends on the intelligence of the player and how good his memory is," he explained.

"There's enough, not enough and too much so I've got to hit the middle of that because if I started changing all three free-kicks and all the corners and all the system, that would just create confusion. It's a little bit of everything does you good."