The Dugout - Allardyce cool on West Brom link
EXCLUSIVE: Sam Allardyce has spoken about links with the West Bromwich Albion job, managerial insecurity and the January transfer window.
How surprised were you by West Brom’s decision to sack Roberto Di Matteo?
When something like that happens it needs to be looked at in its entirety. When West Brom came up into the Premier League it was always going to be hard for them to survive. Teams with limited budget will always find times to be tough and results won’t always go your way. Generally, the Chairman at West Brom has always been patient even when they’ve been relegated in previous seasons, but this time the club appears to really want to stay in the Premier League. Roberto’s results recently perhaps haven’t been what the club expected so they have done something that they haven’t done previously by changing the manager to see if they can stay in the Premier League.
Do you think he was a victim of his own success?
It is a fact that the perception of football builds up people’s expectations and it outweighs the reality too often. The downside comes and there is an immediate reaction to that. We live in a world that builds people’s expectations so high that when the downside comes there is a knee jerk reaction to that. I am sure that Roberto will feel confused and dazed as to why this has happened as he was a hero last season getting West Brom promoted. He also had a brilliant start to the new campaign. There is always going to be a bad run which has lasted longer than probably Roberto expected. He has been a victim of his early success, I would probably agree with that.
Are you interested in taking the West Brom job?
I’m not making any comments on any jobs that are available at the moment. I am available but I am not publicly saying if I am going to take any jobs at the moment.
Fair enough, but you understand why you would be in the frame, in terms of solidifying and helping teams to avoid relegation - it would be a nice fit.
You just made a statement there in terms of solidifying and helping teams avoid relegation. My management skills are more suited to developing teams to be better than what they were before, and not just about avoiding relegation. My main aim is to finish as high up the top of the Barclays Premier League as possible. I have the ability to help teams survive [as demonstrated with Blackburn Rovers], but I want to aim for the top, and position teams higher than people would normally expect the team to finish like when Bolton qualified for Europe and reached cup finals.
You said you are still available and looking for a decent job. Would you ever consider going abroad?
For me personally it’s about choosing the right job for Sam Allardyce and making sure round pegs fit in round holes and square pegs in square holes. I want to make sure the next club I work for is the right club for me and to develop myself and my career as well as that club. If it suits me and suits them, I am happy and glad to work for them, but there is no need to rush into anything. I want to continue to grow as a manager, and be as good as I can possibly get. I am always learning and always continuing to learn. A new challenge would be nice; if that came up internationally, yes that would be of interest to me, but whether that materialises I don’t really know at the moment.
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What impact can you see Fernando Torres making for the rest of season at Chelsea, and although the title has perhaps gone now, will it bring success in Europe?
The ultimate goal for Mr Abramovich has always been to win the Champions League. I think that this is one of the first things on his list to do now because it has eluded him for the whole time he has been in control of Chelsea. Winning the Barclays Premier League might be beyond them now after the result at weekend, so the Champions League becomes the major focus and finishing in the top four. Adding players in the window will increase their abilities and give them a chance to go further in that competition particularly. Torres will, in the long term, be an outstanding success for Chelsea. He is in the prime of his career at nearly 27, and got the move he wanted which will inspire him to get back to the form he showed during the first two or three seasons at Liverpool.
Talking about Liverpool, Andy Carroll has made a big move there. Are people right to question the fee? What do you think of the money they paid for him?
Well, it balances out the money they got for Torres; the balance off in Liverpool’s favour is around £15 million in terms of profit that they gained from the Torres deal.The only way Kenny Dalglish could let Torres go was to bring in Andy Carroll. While the price might be over-inflated, it was something Liverpool had to do to cover the loss of Torres and now they have the sort of strike force with Suarez to continue the form they are in at the moment. Carroll is potentially a very good signing and that’s what they spent money on, the potential. There is a risk that they are spending money on his potential, which is not like Torres who is 26 and the real deal at the moment. Over the next few years I expect Andy Carroll to get better and better but nothing can be guaranteed in this game.
The Carroll transfer went through on last day of the transfer window, and Newcastle didn’t have time to replace him. How do you think that will affect them for the rest of the season?
I think Newcastle’s position is that £35m in business (as is £50m for Torres) is something that you cannot turn down. Everyone felt Cristiano Ronaldo wouldn’t leave Man United, but they couldn’t turn it (£80m) down, it was an impossible fee to refuse. In the end everyone equates value, and if a player's value is well in excess of what you had in the first place, you have to accept it. The transfer window gave Alan Pardew little or no time to replace the player he lost, which will fall into one of the factors of whether they stay up, which is the problem with the transfer window. Will they manage to stay up? If they stay up it is great business, if they don’t it is very difficult to persuade Newcastle fans to say the transfer was a good thing to do. I am sure Newcastle will be safe for this season, and perhaps they can use the money to strengthen the side again in the summer.
You have always been someone who has been very canny in the transfer market. Which of the lower-profile transfers have been quite shrewd in your view?
Wolves got Jamie O’Hara on loan, which was a shrewd move. O’Hara has got some good experience and will add to Wolves’ overall experience of playing in the Premier League. They had a great win against Man United at the weekend and to get someone in on loan with that Premier League experience is a big deal for a club like Wolves. It is an excellent deal in terms of Wolves wanting to stay in the Premier League. We now have the two opposites, the Torres and Carroll deals, then at lower end, you have Wolves taking O’Hara on loan until the end of season.
How much do you enjoy the ‘buying and selling’ aspect of the game as opposed to the day-to-day role of management?
Coaching and dealing with players is the best part of the job without doubt. You need to get them prepared and go out to do the best, and get results you are looking for. The January transfer window is a massive distraction, as it can unhinge what you are trying to do and trying to achieve. The system we have is flawed, and is not one you look forward to. You only have a short space of time, there is a lot of disruption, extra phone calls from agents, experts, intrusion from the media. This can upset players and all of a sudden there is transfer speculation that certain players may be leaving. It is a very difficult situation that you have to handle when you’re the manager but one that governing bodies don’t seem to try and change unfortunately.
Do you think this has explained why we have seen a lot of managerial casualties?
I think it has some bearing, yes. Generally it’s a situation where if results are not going so well for that particular team, how long do you wait to be patient enough for that manager in charge at that time to turn it around and bring you through? The patience factor has become less and less due to the size of money you lose if you get relegated from the Premier League, or any division now. You see a lot of managers dismissed after having a bad run. They have a difficult period and then they get sacked. It is always going to happen,whatever league you work in. The nature of the squad may be ruled by the fact that your budgets are small, you have a small squad and you may lose key players through injury. This in turn creates a loss of confidence with results not as good as you want. It’s in these situations that you need patience from the owners. This does have a bearing, as some owners think that if they get a new manager in it will turn everything around which gets them higher up the league than the position they currently find themselves in. I don’t think it [changing managers] works, if you look at it historically, statistically it is not the way to do it. But ultimately owners come under pressure from supporters and the media, and the first casualty is always the manager departing.
Sam Allardyce was speaking to Yahoo!’s ‘In the Dugout' through its partnership with the League Managers Association