Could West Brom boss Sam Allardyce be the next Premier League manager to leave?

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 11 January 2021, 10:15

The last time West Brom were in the Premier League (2017/18) they sacked two managers en route to relegation down to the Championship: Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew.

Coach Darren Moore was left to pick up the pieces and to his immense credit inspired shock wins over Man Utd and Tottenham, however the damage had already been done.

Moore was handed the permanent post before he too had his contract terminated the following March (2019), although on this occasion it was a surprise given that the Baggies were 4th in the Championship.

The club secured a play-off spot under caretaker James Shan, but lost out to Aston Villa in the semi-finals.

In came Slaven Bilic, who in his first season propelled the Midlands side back into the top-flight, only to then become the first managerial victim of the current campaign, despite cementing a valuable point away to Man City - the Croatian has since made a swift return to the dugout.

Results hadn’t been great - one win from 13 league games - but the sacking was still widely viewed as harsh, especially the timing of the decision.

West Brom wasted little time in unveiling Sam Allardyce as Bilic’s replacement; and while many fans were left unimpressed, Big Sam’s ability to rescue troubled teams from the dreaded drop is unrivalled.

“The sacking of Bilic is questionable, but those quick to write off Allardyce as a ‘dinosaur’ could be in for a shock,” we wrote upon his appointment; words that could come back to haunt us.

Fast-forward a month and West Brom are wounded following a five game winless start under Allardyce, which includes heavy home defeats to Aston Villa, Leeds and Arsenal, plus a shock FA Cup humbling to his former club Blackpool, mid-table in League One.

In fact, the club’s only Premier League point under Allardyce came at Anfield, where they held defending champions Liverpool to a 1-1 draw. He remarkably remains the last visiting manager to win away to Liverpool in the Premier League having previously conjured a 2-1 triumph back in April 2017 when in charge of Crystal Palace.

The Liverpool draw aside, West Brom have been dire. On current evidence Allardyce has exacerbated the situation, instead of sparking a manager bounce.

A few years ago Allardyce shared his ‘survival blueprint’ on Sky Sports News; keeping clean sheets, utilising set-pieces and exploiting opposition’s weaknesses were three of the key components on his seven-point guide.

It’s early days of course - he’s been in charge for only a handful of matches in all competitions - but so far those tried and trusted survival components have completely deserted Allardyce, who now finds himself a 12/1 shot (Bet Victor) to become the second top-flight manager to lose his job.

Only four managers have shorter odds: winless Chris Wilder, under-fire Frank Lampard, plus Steve Bruce and Graham Potter.

The managerial arena is a cut-throat and often ineffable source of employment, as Allardyce knows first hand, but is the veteran manager’s position actually under threat?

“I look at West Brom now and find myself wondering whether Allardyce will even see out the season,” Chris Sutton said following West Brom’s FA Cup exit.

After all, as mentioned, the club does have a history of pulling the trigger.

But, given that he’d been out-of-work for two-and-a-half-years coupled with West Brom’s location in the Premier League drop zone, when putting pen-to-paper Allardyce would no doubt have made sure that they’d be money in the bank to bring in new players this window.

Allardyce added Robert Snodgrass to his ranks on Friday then goalkeeper Andy Lonergan, while he’s now looking to bolster his side in defence and attack. "My job now, having looked at the full squad nearly, is to raise as much as money as we can and get as many players as we can in January," he told BBC Sport.

"I'm in no doubt about that now having been here the last few weeks and seen what I've seen.

"I'm happy with the application and the effort but what we are not good at is keeping a clean sheet and at the other end we are not good at scoring a goal so I've got to sort both of those areas out."

It will be a pivotal window for Allardyce and his troops - one bookmaker is currently offering odds of 8/11 for Allardyce not to be West Brom manager come the last Premier League game of the season.

As the cliches go ‘the games come thick and fast’ and ‘don’t get any easier’ with West Brom now facing back-to-back trips to Wolves and West Ham, followed by Man City at home.

Football is a wonderfly unpredictable sport, yet given the calibre of those three opponents even the most optimistic of supporters will doubt whether Allardyce can stamp his first victory on the board in the next couple of weeks.

The key games to look out for here are Fulham at home at the end of January, immediately pursued by Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

Lose those two matches and West Brom’s 2017/18 season could well repeat itself.

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Neil Harris
Neil Harris
(Cardiff City)
21st January
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