17 December 2020

Can Sam Allardyce work his magic again and keep West Brom up?

17 December 2020

Sam Allardyce has been tasked with performing another rescue act after being appointed manager of a West Brom side who are floundering in the bottom three of the Premier League table.

Having won just once in 13 matches this season following promotion from the Championship, the Baggies have dispensed with Slaven Bilic and turned to Allardyce, who has famously never been relegated in the top flight.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at Allardyce and some of his old clubs with a particular focus on their run of results before he arrived and their fortunes immediately afterwards.

Making waves at Bolton

Sam Allardyce first came to national attention while with Bolton (Chris Radburn/PA) (PA Archive)

Allardyce first came to national attention at Bolton by rejuvenating players supposedly past their sell-by date, including Ivan Campo, Fernando Hierro and Youri Djorkaeff, and getting the best out of Jay-Jay Okocha. Described as one of the pioneers of using sports science in football, Allardyce defied the doom-mongers and established Wanderers in the Premier League while they even competed in Europe on a couple of occasions. Even back then, his style of football was more pragmatic than aesthetic, although he has said that perceptions that he is simply a long-ball merchant are “totally and utterly wrong”.

Newcastle get a lift after Allardyce appointment

Allardyce lasted just a few months at Newcastle (Owen Humphreys/PA) (PA Archive)

He left Bolton in April 2007 to take up a post with Newcastle the next month. The Magpies had ended the season with just one win in their previous 10 matches but they made a confident start to the 2007/08 campaign with five victories, two draws and three defeats. Having been given an outlay of £26million at the start of his reign, it came as a surprise when Newcastle parted company with Allardyce in January 2008 when they sat 11th in the standings. The Magpies went on to finish 12th and were relegated from the Premier League the following season.

Blackburn benefit from ‘Big Sam’ touch

Allardyce kept Blackburn in the Premier League but they were relegated the season after he left the club (Dave Thompson/PA) (PA Archive)

Blackburn were languishing in 19th in December 2008, with just three points from their last 10 games, when Allardyce took charge. They experienced an immediate upturn in fortunes with three wins and five draws in their next 10 matches. Allardyce steered Rovers away from danger and they finished 15th, improving to 10th the season afterwards. They sat 13th, five points above the drop zone, when he was peculiarly sacked by the club’s owners days before his two-year anniversary at the club. Under Steve Kean they were relegated the following season.

West Ham and Sunderland see improvement under Allardyce

Allardyce's style of play won few admirers among West Ham fans (Adam Davy/PA) (PA Archive)

As has been the case at every club he has managed since taking over at Bolton, Allardyce’s arrival at both West Ham and Sunderland saw improved results. Having been relegated from the Premier League in 2010-11, the Hammers collected 18 points in their first 10 matches en route to immediate promotion from the Championship. Finishes of 10th, 13th and 12th followed but Allardyce’s style of play won few admirers among West Ham fans and he left at the end of the 2014-15 season. He was out of the game for a matter of months before Sunderland came calling. The Black Cats had been winless after eight games in 2015-16 but they prevailed in three of their next 10 fixtures. Sitting second bottom of the table when he joined, they finished one place and two points above the relegation zone, preserving Allardyce’s proud record of keeping sides up.

Palace and Everton get the Allardyce treatment

After an ill-fated stint at England, Allardyce’s next job in the Premier League came at Crystal Palace in December 2016. By this stage, everyone was well aware of Allardyce’s credentials so it was little surprise the Eagles – with just one win and a draw in their previous 10 matches – had three victories over their next 10 matches, rising from 17th to finish 14th. The following season, Everton rose from 13th at the time of Allardyce’s appointment to eighth but it was not enough to save him from the axe just six months after taking the reins.

Can West Brom count on Allardyce to keep them safe?

Having won just once in their last 10 games, the midlands club would seem to be in Allardyce’s wheelhouse. Across his managerial career, the points difference in the 10 games before his arrival and afterwards is +7.8. Newcastle, Blackburn and West Ham were 10, 11 and 13 points respectively better off after Allardyce first assumed command, while his record of avoiding the drop in this day and age is truly remarkable. However, the sport continues to evolve and having been out of the game for two-and-a-half years, it will be interesting to see whether his methods are still applicable.

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