Sam Allardyce recently spoke about his determination to stem the tide of goals at West Bromwich Albion, telling the Express and Star that Premier League survival hinges on shutting out the opposition.
He said: “As a defender all my life, having spent my entire life telling defenders at whatever club I’ve been at, it’s all been about not conceding goals as a platform for success.
“I’ve said to the players that our platform for success is to stop the opposition from scoring goals and we’re still failing to do that.” But while Allardyce has recognised the problem, he failed to improve the backline.
Albion signed goalkeeper Andy Lonergan, midfielders Okay Yokuslu and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, winger Robert Snodgrass and striker Mbaye Diagne in January, but surprisingly given Allardyce’s comments, they didn’t sign a centre-back. [Transfermarkt]
Since becoming a survival specialist in his managerial career, the 66-year-old had brought in defenders at Sunderland (Lamine Kone, Jan Kirchhoff) Crystal Palace (Mamadou Sakho) and Everton (Eliaquim Mangala), but his failure to do so at West Brom could be costly.
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The Baggies are 19th in the Premier League and 11 points adrift of safety. They have conceded 54 goals, at least 15 more than any other club, and have the second-fewest clean sheets in the division with just two, so bringing in a defender seemed a no-brainer. Allardyce was honest about his desire to add reinforcements last month, but he neglected one key area.
Interest in Joe Worrall, Japhet Tanganga, Issa Diop, Sakho and James Tomkins went nowhere, though, so Albion are gambling that Semi Ajayi, Kyle Bartley, Dara O’Shea and Branislav Ivanovic can atone for their unenviable records this season and turn things around.
Otherwise, Allardyce may well stand accused of failing to practice what he has preached.