The Citizen (Gauteng)

Escape artist fails

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West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce, better known as “Big Sam” suffered relegation from the English Premier League for the first time in his managerial career after his team went down 3-1 to Arsenal on Sunday.

Allardyce became known as a relegation escape artist in his previous managerial jobs in the Premiershi­p, but his 17th season in the division ended in failure with West Brom relegated for a joint-record fifth time.

“It’s not sunk in yet,” Allardyce told BT Sport. “I’m bitterly disappoint­ed we’re not still in the fight. I’m not saying we would have avoided relegation, but we should have been closer, we should have taken it down to the last three games, based on how we performed. The creating of chances has been there, but the converting has not.

“Our real problem was not beating the bottom-six sides when we came up against them. The results against Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City should have been bonus points.”

Will he stay at West Brom and try to bring them back to the Premiershi­p next season? “That’s too early to even consider or talk about that, for me."

Allardyce made 578 league and cup appearance­s in a 21-year career spent mostly in the Football League, as well as brief spells in the North American Soccer League and League of Ireland.

“I never bothered about anything else apart from football. I never bothered about school. Teachers were a pain in the backside - not that I want any kids to ignore their education - but all I was going to be was a footballer and no-one was ever going to stop that dream. Not even the careers’ officer when he sat me down and said I was stupid. So if that careers’ officer is still alive, up yours," he said recently.

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