Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce says he now has great respect for Arsene Wenger after enjoying “good fun” with him earlier in his career.
Allardyce and Wenger had several public disagreements while Big Sam was in charge at Bolton and Blackburn, which was mainly prompted by the aggressive, physical style that he employed.
Wenger accused Allardyce of gamesmanship, while the Sunderland boss claimed the Frenchman was “arrogant” in his book, ‘Big Sam’, but he claims that is all water under the bridge and he is now a changed man.
“It was about my life in the early years. My life’s not like that now. I’m completely different now,” said Allardyce, whose Sunderland side travel to The Emirates on Saturday.
“I had some good fun with Arsene in the early years. I got under his skin. Our meetings have been much more amicable since, on and off the field.
“I’ve always had a huge amount of respect for him. Winding up was just a procedure we used a long time ago but I’m not sure it makes a difference to players on the field.
“I don’t particularly like controversy. Discipline is a massive part of being successful in football. Self-discipline as an individual and as a team.
“With experience you learn more about the game. You prioritise much better, you’re calmer and you learn to handle things.”
Allardyce has not beaten Arsenal since May, 2010 and has lost his previous eight matches against Wenger.