Big Sam: Finances scuppered Baggies

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Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce believes his West Brom counterpart Tony Mowbray deserves respect even though his side have been relegated from the Barclays Premier League.

The two men have differing views on the way the game should be played, with Allardyce's no-nonsense approach in stark contrast to the ethos of Mowbray, who favours a flowing passing game.

Speaking ahead of their meeting on the final day of the season on Sunday, Allardyce said: "I am an admirer of Tony. He has stuck to his principles. But, as far as I am concerned, it is all about staying in the Premier League."

Allardyce added: "The fact is West Brom did not have the budget and that's why they have slipped back down. But you cannot blame the club for that - they just wanted to function within their financial means."

With West Brom already down, Middlesbrough need a miracle to avoid joining them in the Coca-Cola Championship, and the news coming out of the club yesterday further added to the gloom on Teesside as Stewart Downing was ruled out for three months after being told he needs an operation on a foot injury picked up against Aston Villa last weekend.

Downing's absence could be the final nail in Boro's coffin, with Gareth Southgate's side knowing a win at West Ham will only secure their survival if Newcastle also lose against Villa and Hull suffer a heavy loss at home to champions Manchester United.

The Toon Army will no doubt be hoping Villa's players have their minds on their summer holidays during Sunday's clash at Villa Park, but Brad Friedel has warned his side will not roll over and gift them the three points.

Newcastle need a positive result to keep alive their hopes of remaining in the top flight but Villa goalkeeper Friedel insists his team will be aiming to put their recent poor form behind them in the race to secure fifth place and edge out Everton.

Friedel told Talk Sport: "Our form has been a bit disappointing recently. But we are still fighting for a fifth-placed finish and that might not bode well for Newcastle as we definitely have something to play for.

"I know we've already qualified for the Europa League but we are professionals and we do want to do the best we can all the time and we do want to secure that fifth spot."

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West Bromwich Albion
Stewart Downing
Blackburn Rovers
Premier League
Manchester United
Gareth Southgate
Brad Friedel
Aston Villa
Hull City

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