Until Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Fulham, Big Sam had a home record at The Hawthorns of four losses from four and a combined score line of 0-17.
After collecting his first home point on the fifth attempt, Sam and his staff will need a miraculous upturn in form from their remaining eight home fixtures if the Baggies are to give themselves any chance of survival.
“Survival Specialist” Allardyce has started incredibly poorly to life in B71. Yes, he inherited a woefully underequipped Championship side but any sympathy from the fans has quickly dissipated given the lacklustre, heartless and joyless performances under the Dudley native, especially at home.Embed from Getty Images
Home form is integral to any successful league campaign. It’s the easiest and most advantageous place, theoretically, to win games and score goals. Both of which have been an almighty struggle this season.
However, symbolically, Premier League games at The Hawthorns have added value to the fans, considering the vast majority have endured years of second tier football for these moments.
So whilst survival remains mathematically possible, every fan wants Albion to win, of course they do. But at a minimum, fans just want performances and moments to celebrate. Allardyce has delivered the exact opposite.
Can Big Sam realistically turn it around and salvage our home form and potentially our season? No, and here’s why…
Firstly, let’s address how awful Big Sam’s home form has really been.
For the most part the results speak for themselves: 0-3 Villa, 0-5 Leeds, 0-4 Arsenal, 0-5 Man City, 2-2 Fulham. If these results continue, obviously we will get relegated and Allardyce will be sacked before the end of the season. But are the results Big Sam’s fault or are the players to blame?
Well, Livermore’s horrendous red card against Villa killed the game; Sawyers’ hysterically calamitous own goal versus Leeds set the tone; Arsenal and City predictably outclassed our squad; and Albion crumbled in the last half an hour when they hosted Fulham and dropped two points. Unquestionably, man for man, West Brom does not belong in the Premier League.Embed from Getty Images
Snodgrass, Diagne, Yokuslu and Maitland-Niles should inject new hope and talent in to the squad.
At Sunderland and Crystal Palace, Allardyce masterminded survival due to his January transfer window exploits. He signed Lamine Kone, Jan Kirchoff and Wahbi Khazri who were at the centre of Sunderland’s success, much like Mamadou Sakho, Patrick van Aanholt, Jeffrey Schlupp and Luka Milivojevic were at Crystal Palace. There is a slim chance that Albion’s recruits fire them up the table, but Allardyce needs to dramatically switch it up his tactical approach.
Sadly, the negative route one football that fans were worried Allardyce would bring has emerged at The Hawthorns and it has produced remarkably terrible results, as shown by the statistics.
On average, during Allardyce’s five home games in charge, Albion have had 32% possession, 66% pass accuracy, 4.2 shots (1.8 on target) and had an xG of 0.4. Across the same five games, per game they conceded 68% possession, 85% pass accuracy, 16.8 shots (8 on target) and had an xG of 2.1.
According to xG, per game we concede more chances than we have created across all of Allardyce’s home games.
Defensively incapable of withstanding prolonged pressure and not technically or mentally proficient enough to sustain attacking pressure, Allardyce football is not conducive with this squad.
New signing Diagne, the rangy and tall Senegalese forward, will need to keep providing – he has two assists in just over 100 minutes in English football – and convert chances at a regular rate if West Brom are to win a few games. Interestingly, despite being in full effect, route one football might not suit our towering attacker.Embed from Getty Images
In his two appearances Diagne has successfully received 18 of the 49 attempted passes where he was targeted which equates to around 37%. As a fair comparison, Chris Wood successfully receives 47% of his attempted passes. Diagne has also only poorly controlled the ball once, so that 37% reception figure insinuates that the quality of pass forward is lacking and inaccurate.
This is no surprise given how aerially West Brom play under Allardyce – 50% of all passes attempted are aerial. Comparatively, the league average is 32.5%.
It is worth noting that Diagne, Albion’s new attacking focal point, is yet to score a header this season.
We all expect relegation now and we deserve it based on how we’ve played: too easy to defend against and even easier to score against. But Allardyce has a chance to redeem himself and not necessarily by earning results.
Fan opinion doesn’t count for much when we can’t attend games and when there’s so much pressure from the board to achieve footballing and financial success, but the minimum expectation of the fans in our situation has to be gradual and definitive improvement in performances. We are not seeing that under Allardyce.
This is not to say Allardyce should go, but he is failing. He’s failing to win games, he’s failing to keep Albion competitive but he’s really failing the fans with this combination of dire results, performances and stylistic approach.Embed from Getty Images
Big Sam’s final roll of the dice relies on the instant and continued impact of his new, aforementioned recruits.
It’s highly unlikely, but they could fire Albion to safety. Yokuslu and Maitland-Niles could make their first appearances against Spurs away from home, most likely as substitutes.
However, the final eight home games of the season are season-defining; not to stave off an increasingly inevitable relegation, but to deliver some much needed joy and hope to a disenchanted fan base.