Everton manager Sam Allardyce has admitted that his dismissal as Newcastle boss in 2008 'felt unjust', but insisted that he has moved on ahead of the Toffees clash with the North East side on Monday night.
Allardyce was not even given a full season at St James' Park, with his dismissal coming just eight months after he took charge of the Magpies. But the 63-year-old, who has gone on to manage Blackburn, West Ham, Sunderland, England, Crystal Palace and now Everton, said that his history with Newcastle is all in the past.
“It’s been that long that I have nothing but respect for the football club. It felt unjust but I have moved on," said Allardyce, as quoted by Sky Sports, when speaking ahead of the visit of Newcastle at Goodison Park on Monday evening.
The former England coach praised Newcastle for their recent form, as they gained promotion back to the Premier League ahead of this season and look to have secured another year in the top flight.
“From a difficult period they have managed to recover and get in the Premier League and they have turned it round.
“They have put together a run of games and we’ll see a better Newcastle than we saw up there (when Everton won 1-0 in the reverse fixture in December)," said Allardyce.
The Everton boss even praised Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez, who he once fell out with when they were in charge of Bolton and Liverpool, respectively.
“Rafa has progressed very well. He has always expressed his disappointment with not enough funds – we can all say we don’t have enough funds.
“What he has managed with the funds he has, particularly in the January months, has been excellent,” said Allardyce.
When questioned about the disagreement they had in the past, when Allardyce claimed that Benitez had not shown his side enough respect, the former Bolton manager insisted that it has all been forgotten.
“There is none. That’s water under the bridge and 15 years ago, when he just got here," he said.
"I was winding up anyone I could and it worked well at times. That doesn't happen now. I wouldn't go back to that. I'm too long in the tooth and mature for it."
Everton are currently in ninth place, just one point ahead of Newcastle, with the Magpies also possessing a game in hand.
And the Toffees boss is determined to have a strong end to the campaign and finish as high as possible, with Leicester City the only side Everton could realistically pass.
“We want to finish in the top half if we can. You want to finish well because it’s been a lot of turmoil this season,” he said.
“The only reason I’m here is the team wasn’t good enough before I got here. That was the opinion of the board. I came in to sort that out and we have managed to achieve a certain amount of success. We would have liked more," Allardyce continued.