CHRIS SUTTON: Sam Allardyce clearly doesn’t think his current lot at West Brom are good enough for Premier League survival – but will he jump ship if the January window doesn’t go his way?
- Sam Allardyce will be looking to strengthen West Brom in the transfer window
- If he doesn’t get the players he needs, will he even see out the season in charge?
- Meanwhile, Crawley’s Nick Tsaroulla epitomised the magic of the FA Cup
It’s an intriguing situation with Sam Allardyce and West Brom.
When the Baggies pinched a point at Anfield, it was ‘my players’. Allardyce spoke about how the team executed his smash-and-grab tactics to perfection against the Premier League champions.
But after losing 5-0 to Leeds, 4-0 to Arsenal and getting knocked out of the FA Cup by League One Blackpool, Allardyce has attempted to distance himself from the group.
Will Sam Allardyce stick around at West Bromwich Albion if January doesn’t go his way?
They definitely weren’t his players at Bloomfield Road on Saturday. Allardyce made sure we knew that in his post-match interviews. He explained how his job in January is to sell and buy as many players as he can, because he does not think this current lot are good enough to secure Premier League survival.
‘What we are not good at is keeping a clean sheet and, at the other end, we are not good at scoring a goal,’ added Allardyce, in a rather blunt assessment of the struggling side he has inherited.
Allardyce knew what he was getting into when he took the job.
West Brom had no recognised striker against Blackpool. Callum Robinson wasn’t risked. Charlie Austin was in London signing for QPR on loan until the end of the season. Up front they used Matheus Pereira, who is more of a No 10.
Results have not been the best since Allardyce took over the West Brom job earlier this season
So it wasn’t a surprise to hear Allardyce say that’s an area they must strengthen this month.
The trouble is West Brom aren’t a club with a £100million war chest. They cannot go and snap up a striker who will score the goals to win them Premier League games and pay him £100,000 a week in return.
So as much as Allardyce would like to sign a Mohamed Salah on a free transfer and on modest wages, the odds of that happening are slim.
I look at West Brom now and find myself wondering whether Allardyce will even see out the season.
If he does not get his way in the January window, and results continue as they are, then he may elect to jump ship.
Allardyce has never been relegated as a manager, and he may want to keep it that way
It could come down to pride. He has never been relegated as a manager, and one way to keep that record intact is to leave before it comes to that, especially if things do not go his way in the market.
That will be a situation to keep an eye on. West Brom have some very big games coming up. Notably Fulham at home on January 30, followed by Sheffield United away on February 2. The window shuts in between those fixtures.
Since that 1-1 draw with Liverpool, it’s all gone downhill for West Brom. Allardyce is a good manager. His record in the Premier League, with zero relegations on his c.v., tells you that. But right now, that gap to 17th place only looks like growing.
Who was expecting a cricket score?
Hands up if you tuned in to watch Aston Villa’s kids face Liverpool expecting a cricket score. I certainly did. I thought Jurgen Klopp’s pre-match team talk would revolve around revenge for that 7-2 Premier League loss earlier in the season. ‘Go out there and beat that.’ Instead, the Villa starlets rose to the occasion. Well done to those youngsters.
People were expecting a cricket score but Aston Villa’s youngsters rose to the occasion
Getting the job done
Manchester United may not have played particularly well against Watford, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer selected a second-string side and they got the job done at Old Trafford.
Solskjaer can now bring back his full first team to go top of the Premier League with a win at Burnley tomorrow, ahead of a very intriguing trip to Anfield this weekend.
Manchester United didn’t play particularly well, but they got the job done against Watford
Tsaroulla sums up the magic of the Cup
There may be no supporters in the stands holding those homemade tin-foil trophies in the air but the stories are still there. Crawley’s Nick Tsaroulla epitomised the magic of the FA Cup and showed how this competition can allow a player to live the dream. He oozed class in the way he scored, and his post-match interviews were so raw and touching.
Tsaroulla is someone who has suffered setbacks. He was released by Tottenham as a teenager and involved in a car crash which halted his progress. He signed for Brentford but things didn’t work out there. Now aged 21 and with Crawley, he became an FA Cup third-round hero.
Mark Wright’s late introduction should not overshadow the true story of this match — the focus should be on the heroes of this Crawley team, including Tsaroulla, whose perseverance to get to this point is nothing short of inspiring.
Crawley’s Nick Tsaroulla epitomised the magic of the FA Cup against Leeds on Sunday
So long to Ozil
Mesut Ozil is almost out of Arsenal and what an ugly situation that has been to the very end. That £350,000-a-week, three-year contract turned out to be quite the unfortunate parting gift from Arsene Wenger in 2018.
But the emergence of Emile Smith Rowe, along with Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Kieran Tierney, gives Arsenal reasons to be more cheerful than fearful of the future. It’s out with the old, in with the new. So long to Ozil. A fine player, but not someone to rely upon.
Mesut Ozil is almost on his way out of Arsenal, but there are plenty ready to replace him
There has to be another option
Non-league football is on the verge of being null and voided, after the Trident Leagues — the Northern Premier League, Southern League and Isthmian League — met to discuss what to do. Players, coaches, fans, volunteers at that level are now unsure of what will happen.
Why on earth did those in charge start this season without having plans in place of what to do when the virus inevitably forced another pause? There should be a more suitable outcome than to simply scrap the campaign. Otherwise, what’s the point?
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