Sam Allardyce: Blackpool spell taught me about ruthlessness of football

Ian Parker, PA
·3-min read

Sam Allardyce has revealed his experience of managing Blackpool early in his career taught him there is “no loyalty” in football.

Allardyce will return to Bloomfield Road on Saturday when he takes West Brom to the Lancashire coast for their FA Cup third-round tie.

The Seasiders were among Allardyce’s first clubs in management. He was expecting a meeting to agree new terms after narrowly missing out on promotion in 1996, but was instead shown the door as his spell in charge came to an abrupt end.

The experience hurt Allardyce at the time, though he now admits it taught him invaluable lessons about the world of management.

“It tells you there can be no loyalty,” he said. “It works both ways. That’s what it taught me.

“Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much time or how much effort or what you do for a football club. Within a short space of time your time can be up.

“That experience gave me a big insight into the ruthlessness of football if you’re a manager.”

Allardyce said he learned to take a similar approach himself, walking away from jobs at Notts County and Bolton when he felt the time was right, while accepting the decision when clubs such as Newcastle and Blackburn chose to cut ties.

“I see it working both ways,” he added. “If I think it is time for me to go, I go. If they think it is time for me to go, they will tell me and I will go.

“Where I used to lose massive amounts of sleep over it, at this stage of my life, after over 1,000 games, it doesn’t hit me as hard as it used to.”

With West Brom deep in a relegation battle, Allardyce is planning to make wholesale changes for the third-round tie, offering a chance to players yet to get a look-in during the hectic three weeks since he was named as Slaven Bilic’s successor on December 16.

Asked what his message to the players would be, Allardyce said: “Show me what you’ve got. Don’t tell me, show me.”

Though their problems are not as extreme as those being encountered elsewhere, West Brom’s preparations have been hit by Covid-19.

Two unnamed players tested positive on Sunday, with the training ground closed for a deep clean on Monday and Tuesday before further tests were conducted on Wednesday.

Those all came back negative, but the process has limited the time Allardyce has had to work with his much-changed side.

“Training has been limited to two days so it’s well short of what I would normally be doing in preparation,” he said.

“When you change the squad, you want to really work on them through the week on a regular basis.

“If you change too much too quickly you get a disjointed performance so I wanted to push into them exactly how we want to play at Blackpool but we’ve been really restricted to two days.

“We’ll be relying on their common sense, their ability to understand who they are playing against, to adjust to a third-round tie when the opposition will run harder, run faster than they’ve run all season because they want to produce a shock. We’ve got to make sure we avoid that.”

Allardyce made his first West Brom signing on Friday, completing a deal to bring in winger Robert Snodgrass from West Ham.

The 33-year-old has signed an 18-month contract at The Hawthorns with Allardyce hoping his experience and leadership qualities can make a key difference in the Baggies’ battle against the drop.

“He’ll add Premier League experience and Premier League quality to our side,” Allardyce said.

“I’ve heard from many, many people that he is exceptional in the dressing room which is a great bonus on top of his abilities.”