Sam Allardyce has gained a reputation as relegation-fighter extraordinaire over the last 20 years. Not only has he never suffered relegation from the Premier League himself, but he has never left a team in a relegation battle – and is regularly the man clubs turn to in their hour of need.
Well, it's West Brom's hour of need. With Slaven Bilic going out, Sam Allardyce is coming in. The Baggies are currently 19th in the Premier League, with just one win so far this season.
Sure, we all know about Big Sam's reputation as a long-ball specialist – but when it comes to results, he has a healthy record. FFT decided to take a look through his whole top-flight career to see what West Brom fans can really expect...
Position when he took over: 12th (Division One)
Highest finish: 5th
Position when he left: 5th
Allardyce was brought in as the long-term replacement for the outgoing Colin Todd in October 1999. He inherited a talented squad, including the likes of Eider Gudjohnsen, Jussi Jaaskelainen and Ricardo Gardner. Big Sam would lead the club to promotion, via the play-offs a year after taking over, and never looked back.
Allardyce’s nose for a bargain, defensive organisation and direct style of play helped Bolton take the Premier League by storm. After beating the drop, the no-nonsense boss led the Trotters to three top 10 finishes in five seasons and a heady UEFA Cup soiree in 2005/06.
He left in April 2007, with the club in fifth, citing a lack of ambition as he sought a Champions League spot.
On this day, in 2006, Nicolas Anelka scored his first league goals for Bolton as they beat his former club Arsenal 3-1 in a Premier League encounter at the Reebok Stadium.Abdoulaye Faye was also on target for Sam Allardyce's side.#BWFC #Arsenal pic.twitter.com/BCHwZeQRFFNovember 25, 2020
Position when Allardyce took over: 15th (end of 2006/07 season)
Highest finish: N/A
Position when he left: 11th
Having spent a decade at Bolton, Allardyce nearly joined Manchester City – but the move hit the rocks after Thaksin Shinawatra completed his takeover.
Mike Ashley’s takeover in the north east, however, opened up a move to Newcastle, who had finished six places and 15 points below Bolton the previous season, but held the promise of greater ambitions.
A predictably busy summer of transfers followed, with Kieron Dyer and Scott Parker departing, and Mark Viduka, Alan Smith, Geremi, Joey Barton, Jose Enrique and Abdoulaye Faye among the arrivals.
Allardyce never convinced a fanbase sceptical of his tactical approach (something that would become familiar to him across his career) despite a strong start. In January, with the Magpies 11th, he was called into a meeting with chairman Chris Mort, expecting to be told about a new signing. Instead, he was sacked.
Position when Allardyce took over: 19th
Highest finish: 10th
Position when he left: 13th
Allardyce was first linked with the Blackburn job in the summer of 2008, but the club opted instead for MK Dons boss Paul Ince.
By December, with Rovers 19th and without a win since September, Ince was out and Big Sam was in.
His first game was a 3-0 win over Stoke that kicked off a nine-game unbeaten run, guiding the side to 15th in the table.
The most notable summer signing was future World Cup-winner Steven Nzonzi for £500,000, ahead of a 2009/10 season that saw Blackburn reach the League Cup semi-finals and finish 10th in the Premier League.
New owners Venky’s were sceptical that Allardyce was the man to fulfil their ambitions, and though he almost left to manage UAE side Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai in the summer of 2010, he stayed on only to be sacked following a 2-1 defeat to Bolton in December.
West Ham (2011-2015)
Position when Allardyce took over: 20th (end of 2010/11 season)
Highest finish: 10th
Position when he left: 12th
In a rare career move, Allardyce arrived at Upton Park to kick off a rebuilding project, rather than a firefighting one. The Hammers had just been relegated to the Championship, giving Big Sam his first taste of football outside the top-flight since 2001.
He guided West Ham back to the Premier League in his first season, via a third-place finish and the play-offs – missing out on automatic promotion by just two points.
Thus began three years of typical Allardyce consistency in east London, with finishes of 10th, 13th and 12th, winning either 11 or 12 games each season, scoring between 40 and 45 league goals, and securing between 40 and 47 points.
At the end of the 2014/15 season, Allardyce’s contract had run out and he departed, describing the departure as “mutual”.
Position when he took over: 19th
Highest finish: 17th
Position when he left: 17th
Big Sam became the first manager in history to manage both Newcastle and Sunderland when he replaced Dick Advocaat in early October. The Black Cats had taken just three points from a possible 24 and were languishing in 19th when the new man signed a two-year deal.
Things barely improved - with a run of five games without a win through December - until the winter transfer window gave Allardyce a chance to bring in reinforcements. Defenders Lamine Kone and Jan Kirchoff were brought in and, along with attacker Wahbi Khazri, proved inspired signings, as Sunderland beat the drop on the final day of the season. A 3-0 win over Everton on May 11 proved doubly joyous for fans, as survival was assured at the expense of the Magpies.
Crystal Palace (2016-17)
Position when he took over: 17th
Highest finish: 14th
Position when he left: 14th
Crystal Palace had won only one of their last 11 Premier League games before Alan Pardew was replaced by Allardyce just before Christmas. When club chairman, Steve Parish, claimed the decision to try a more expansive style of football “hadn’t worked out”, it was clear they were targeting a more solid approach.
Big Sam was handed a truckload of cash in January, spending £30m on Luka Milivojevic, Patrick van Aanholt and Jeff Schlupp. It would prove to be smart business, as the Eagles confirmed their Premier League survival on the penultimate day of the campaign.
Allardyce left of his own accord after the final game of the season, claiming he had taken his final job in club football. Not so fast, Sammy...
Position when he took over: 13th
Highest finish: 8th
Position when he left: 8th
After a terrible start to the 2017/18 campaign, Everton sacked now-Barça boss Ronald Koeman in late October and later brought in Big Sam on a two-year deal. The Englishman shored up the defence, helping the Toffees to five clean sheets in their opening seven fixtures; an unbeaten streak which saw them rise up the Premier League table.
It was up the other end of the pitch that Everton struggled during his tenure, however. The team ranked bottom for shots, 19th for shots on target and 16th for passing accuracy, as long balls became a common occurrence. He was sacked at the end of the season, with decision-makers citing the poor playing style as the reason for his premature dismissal.
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