Sam Allardyce claimed he is as good a manager as Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta when he was introduced as Leeds’ new boss on Wednesday.
Leeds turned to former England manager Allardyce, 68, in a last-ditch bid to retain their Premier League status after sacking Javi Gracia with four games remaining.
Relegated from the top flight for the first time in his 30-year managerial career at his last job at West Brom two years ago, Allardyce said: “Too many people think I’m old and outdated, which is far from the truth.
“He may be 68 or older, but there is no one ahead in football terms. Neither Pep, nor Klopp, nor Arteta.
“Everything is there with me. They do what they do, I do what I do. In terms of knowledge and depth of knowledge, I am right up there with them. I’m not saying it’s better than them, but it’s just as good as them.”
Former Bolton, Newcastle, West Ham and Everton boss Allardyce takes charge of his first match for Leeds at Guardiola’s title-chasing Manchester City on Saturday.
Having already sacked director of football Victor Orta, Leeds announced Gracia’s departure on Wednesday morning along with his coaching staff.
Allardyce said: “I have received many responses from many people I know sending their congratulations. Some others said I must be crazy.
“But I really enjoy the game and trying to save this club and keep it in the Premier League is a big responsibility and a big challenge. But it’s one I’m prepared to take for who Leeds is.”
Allardyce is the club’s third permanent manager of the season, with Gracia taking over from Jesse Marsch in February.
The former England manager expects an immediate response from a demoralized team languishing in 17th place, outside the relegation zone on goal difference alone.
Sam Allardyce must find a way to keep Leeds on top with just four games remaining (Lynne Cameron/PA)
“It’s probably just the biggest challenge (of my career) because of the shortness of the games left,” he said.
Allardyce is reported to have agreed a basic salary of £500,000 for his four games in charge, with a £2.5m bonus if he can keep Leeds on top.
Asked if there was any chance he would stay at Elland Road beyond the rest of this season, he said: “Never say never.
“It depends on what happens at the end of the four games and what the conversation is about, how I feel and, most importantly, how my wife feels.”
Former MK Dons, Charlton and Oxford boss Karl Robinson will be Allardyce’s assistant and former Leeds striker Robbie Keane has also joined the backroom staff.
Allardyce hoped to have been assisted by Sammy Lee, who is unavailable after being denied permission to cancel jury duty.
“The judge left Sammy unemployed and wouldn’t let them go,” Allardyce added. “I think it’s a very poor judgment indeed. It’s a real shame because he loves being with me and I love having him with me.”
After Allardyce’s opener at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, Leeds take on Champions League hopefuls Newcastle at Elland Road the following week.
The last two games of the season are a trip to West Ham, one of Allardyce’s old clubs, and a visit from Tottenham, who is betting on qualifying for Europe.
Leeds have lost five of their last seven games, with Sunday’s 4-1 defeat at Bournemouth following 4-1, 5-1 and 6-1 defeats to Arsenal, Crystal Palace and Liverpool respectively last month.
On Sunday, the Leeds United Supporters’ Advisory Board’s supporters group cast a vote of no confidence in both the club’s board of directors and Gracia.
The players subsequently issued a statement on Monday apologizing for their performance at Bournemouth and for failing to acknowledge fans at the team hotel.
Gracia leaves Leeds after just 11 league games in charge. The Spaniard racked up 10 points from his first six games, but a terrible run of results in April left the club in a downward spiral.
Gracia said in a statement: “I am grateful for this opportunity and proud of the team, both the players and the coaching staff. This is how I would like to sum up my time at Leeds United.
“I would have preferred a different time, but circumstances have changed. We arrived with a short contract of three months and we did it because we believed in this team”.