West Brom boss Sam Allardyce drops early team selection hint ahead of FA Cup tie against Blackpool
West Brom boss Sam Allardyce has hinted he will look to make changes for his side’s FA Cup tie against Blackpool next weekend.
The former Blackpool boss, who managed the Seasiders between 1994 and 1996, makes his return to Bloomfield Road on Saturday for the third round clash.
The Baggies, who are struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League table, are expected to change things up following their recent heavy defeats to Leeds United and Arsenal.
Allardyce, who has lost three of his opening four games since replacing Slaven Billic, is likely to prioritise West Brom’s league status and hand opportunities to the club’s fringe players.
The likes of Charlie Austin, Cedric Kipre, Kamil Grosicki and Filip Krovinovic are among the players who could get a chance to play at Bloomfield Road.
“We have to come to a conclusion on how we need to go forward - particularly after the FA Cup game against Blackpool because I will see my other players,” Allardyce said after West Brom’s 4-0 defeat to Arsenal.
“We have to achieve first and foremost a clean sheet, without that we will find it difficult to get out of this position. That is the first priority for us.
“At the end of January we’ll have a better picture and see what we have been capable of in the window to improve our squad. Everybody needs a boost.
"I’ve always managed with the players we’ve brought in to improve the team and it’s got us out of relegation problems. That’s the way for us to get out of trouble.”
"It's definitely the right call. You could ask why it's taken this long. If it helps to pick up the infection earlier or prevent the virus spreading then it has to be good" - #Blackpool boss Neil Critchley
Allardyce: Blackpool tie ‘massive opportunity’ for starting XI
Sam Allardyce says the players picked to face Blackpool in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup have a “massive opportunity” to impress.
The Baggies boss is expected to rotate his XI for the tie at Bloomfield Road, with a number of first-team squad members who’ve not featured much over the Christmas period set to start against the Sky Bet League one side.
And Allardyce has challenged the eleven selected players to show their “professionalism” and “motivation” on Saturday afternoon when they face the Seasiders.
He said: “We can’t be the banana skin against Blackpool on Saturday.
“I’m asking the players who will be selected to show their professionalism, their Premier League quality and why they are playing for a Premier League football club.
“I think the early stages, as much as I warn them, will come as a shock to the players because they will be out to claim a scalp and a Premier League one at that.
“The Blackpool players will probably run much harder and further than normal because they will want to beat us.
“It’ll be a difficult game for us. We need to be really professional.
“We’ve had a really tough period over the last few weeks where it has been game after game. It’s only now this week where we can get other squad members into the team who are experienced players.
“They’ve got an opportunity to say to us on Saturday that they are here, they are good enough and they should be in the team in the Premier League.
“That is their challenge. Their challenge is to show us they are good enough to play for this club in the Premier League.
“It’s a massive opportunity for them to play well and be putting pressure on me to put them in the team at Wolves the following week.
“After the game, I want to have a number of players who have impressed me that haven’t played much since I came here.”
Learning to read clusters is not something your eyes do naturally. It takes constant practice.
Sam Allardyce's Baggies begin their Emirates FA Cup journey with a trip to Sky Bet League One outfit Blackpool at Bloomfield Road on Saturday afternoon (ko 3pm).
Their last time out
Blackpool ensured progression to the third round after a convincing 4-0 away win against Sky Bet League Two side Harrogate Town.
Four second-half goals proved to be enough to see off the Yorkshire outfit, who ended the game with 10 men. But the Tangerines’ recent league form has seen them go three games without a win after suffering a 2-1 defeat to Bristol Rovers last weekend.
In the dugout
Neil Critchley was appointed as the Seasiders’ head coach in March, 2020.
After a staggered season at the helm due to the consequences of Covid-19, Critchley finished his first term in charge of Blackpool in 13th place.
The 42-year-old had previously spent the majority of his coaching career with reigning Premier League champions, Liverpool. Critchley began as under-18s boss at Anfield in 2013 before moving onto the 23s side and has also overseen first-team duties in recent years.
The Reds’ involvement overseas in the FIFA Club World Cup in 2019 meant Critchley took over senior affairs in the EFL Cup quarter-finals with manager Jurgen Klopp away. Critchley managed a predominantly U23s-based side which lost 5-0 to Aston Villa. He also stepped in during Liverpool’s mid-season break in February 2020, for their FA Cup clash with Shrewsbury Town.
One to watch
Forward Jerry Yates is Blackpool’s joint-top scorer this season.
Five of the former Rotherham academy graduate’s six goals have come during wins this season, with one against Eastbourne setting the Seasiders on their way in the Emirates FA Cup.
Yates is joint on six goals so far with fellow target man, Gary Madine and both will be keen to boost confidence by making a scoring start to the new year.
Our last meeting
Our last meeting with Saturday’s opponents came nearly a decade ago during their only season in the Premier League. The Baggies ran out 3-2 winners at The Hawthorns back in January, 2011.
However, Roman Bednar’s inspired display on the west coast was Albion’s last successful trip to the seaside. The forward netted a brace before Graham Dorrans’ late penalty secured another 3-2 win against the Tangerines in February, 2010.
- Blackpool have won just one of the previous eight FA Cup ties against Albion.
- The Tangerines have scored just one in their last three matches. Neil Critchley’s side haven’t lost a game at Bloomfield Road since late October.
- The Baggies last failed to score at Bloomfield Road in March, 1975.
- Albion have scored eight goals in their last four encounters with Blackpool.
- Charlie Austin has had four direct goal involvements during the five matches he’s played against the Seasiders (scoring three and providing one assist).
Our one to watch
Rekeem Harper will be determined to force his way into Sam Allardyce’s starting XI this season.
The midfielder was a regular fixture during Albion’s EFL Cup fixtures at the beginning of the campaign, scoring a great goal against Harrogate during a 3-0 win.
And after going close to netting a late consolation after coming on as a substitute during Saturday’s 4-0 defeat to Arsenal, the 20-year-old - along with several others first-team players - will want to make a positive impression on the gaffer.
Learning to read clusters is not something your eyes do naturally. It takes constant practice.
Sam Allardyce: Blackpool spell taught me about ruthlessness of football
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.”