Given that he has managed a quarter of the clubs that currently make up the Premier League, it is not an unusual event when Sam Allardyce goes back to a previous place of employment. But there will be something different about his return to West Ham with a West Bromwich Albion side fresh from success in the Black Country derby against Wolves on Saturday.
Rather than fire-fighting relegation, as has become his standard managerial modus operandi, at West Ham he delivered promotion. “I'm glad you said that, that they're in the Premier League because of me,” he said with characteristic modesty after being reminded of his record with the club.
“I had four very good years there, took them up in the first year and had three fantastic years in the Premier League. It's nice to see them maintain that position and trying to improve on it. It was a job well done but going back can only be a joy to me if we get a result.”
Had there been fans allowed in the London Stadium it is unlikely, however, that the welcome could have been effusive. Allardyce is largely recalled in those parts for delivering dull, pragmatic football that went against the expansive expectations of the home support.
And the West Brom manager suggested the absence of a hostile crowd has significantly changed the dynamic in games. Not least at West Ham where, until the recent victory over Burnley, wins had been a rarity.
“A lot of clubs have had to wait patiently to get some home wins,” he said. “The overall average was there are more away wins than home wins, certainly it was two weeks ago. It shows you what difference it makes with no fans. Because the fans aren't there maybe the mentality of the [away team] players means we can play more freely because they're not being intimidated by the home fans.”
And he reckoned another away match so soon after Saturday’s victory over Wolves could prove beneficial in West Brom’s push to avoid the drop. “It comes around very quickly now,” he said. “The lads have to recover and show the confidence they have gained.
"This is one result which gives us confidence. we have to apply ourselves as well as we did on Saturday and take our chances when they come along. The small criticism I have is not converting chances from open play, we have to improve that because our goals came from two penalties and a throw in. We can't always rely on set plays and it's something we can work on.”