Sam Allardyce was left disappointed and upset by West Bromwich Albion’s 3-0 home defeat to Aston Villa in his first game in charge – and is already considering a captaincy change.
The Baggies were behind within four minutes as a result of Anwar El Ghazi’s opener at the Hawthorns but the task became even greater when skipper Jake Livermore was sent off before the interval for a foul on his Aston Villa counterpart Jack Grealish.
Albion worked hard to ensure the result was in the balance until the latter stages but could create very little and further goals by Bertrand Traore and El Ghazi again from the spot won Villa the game.
“I think the 10 men that we were left with battled bravely to stay in the game for as long as possible,” said Allardyce. “I think they tried and tried and tried against a Villa side that is playing very well this season and picking up a lot of points so we knew it was going to be difficult.
“But we made it so difficult for ourselves conceding a goal after four minutes, losing our man from a simple cross, allowing a man in our six-yard box with nobody marking him. Hugely disappointing.
“Even more disappointing, having our captain sent off and leaving us down to 10 men. So I am really disappointed about that and the result but I do give the 10 men who stayed on after the man had been sent off a bit of credit for staying in the game for as long as they did.”
Villa’s Kortney Hause escaped with a yellow card for a foul just after West Brom had been reduced to 10 men – a decision that Allardyce felt could have gone his side’s way.
“I am disappointed that they did not ask the referee to look at it. I don’t know why they didn’t. Particularly after Jake was sent off, that should have been a review the same, with him going over to the screen to have a look at it. I am convinced that it might have been very close.
“It was a different challenge but it was certainly a late challenge and it was certainly a dangerous challenge and it was certainly a leg or ankle-threatening [or] breaking challenge.”
Red card upsets Allardyce
But it was Livermore’s red card that troubled him most.
“I am upset,” added the 66-year-old former England manager who replaced Slaven Bilic earlier in the week. “I could not be anything other than upset. When you say to the players when you arrive, ‘Look, lads, the one thing we can’t afford is any more sent off’, that cannot happen.
“I just won’t accept another sending off no matter what. You have got to stop that or we will have no chance of getting out of trouble.
“He has apologised to the players, apologised to us, and looked very upset about it but from my point of view an experienced player like him should not have put himself in that position. We will have to deal with it.
“We need every player on the pitch and more importantly we need every player who has got some Premier League experience because we have not got many of those.
“Now he is suspended for three games. That is the last thing we needed, having your captain sent off. That is very disappointing. Now we have to do without a player who is fit to play because he did a reckless thing on the pitch and we are going to lose him for three matches.”
Will the man who gets the armband in Livermore’s absence retain the captaincy for good?
“It depends who wants to be captain after this and who can handle the armband of being captain,” said Allardyce. “If I consider they can handle it then they can keep it, for me.”
Sloppy defending needs to stop
As for the opening goal that saw El Ghazi evade the attention of Darnell Furlong at the far post, Allardyce is adamant that he will be looking to address the problem of what he calls ‘easy’ goals.
“We cannot let easy goals in and the first one was an easy goal.
“What I am also seeing at the moment, as you can imagine after one win in 14, is that it is for me to make sure they do not lose confidence in their ability. That will be my first battle.
“And then it is to battle our way of this position because we cannot just play our way out, we will need some battling qualities as well.
“I have got to work on eliminating the goals that teams are scoring against us because we have been limited in the chances that we are creating up to now, before I got here and today.
“The only time that we have had a flurry of goals was the three against Chelsea before half-time and even then we did not get a win from the game, we got a draw.
“We have got to see where we go in the next few days.”
Limited time to coach the players
Another issue for Allardyce is that time on the pitch is limited. He even admitted that the scale of this particular problem was something that he had not fully appreciated before taking the job.
“My difficulty is trying to work on the pitch as often as I can but there is not a lot of time to do that work because of the fatigue that the players already have because of the situation.
“If I could get more time on the pitch, I would try to do it as soon as possible but because I have got such small amounts of time on the pitch because of the amount of games, fatigue and restrictions, it may take a little bit longer than I had anticipated.
“I have come back and I did not realise how restrictive the restrictions were and I did not realise how much the players were playing and what the fatigue levels looked like.
“The sports science lads have been talking about the fact that training has to be at a minimum so I am having to squeeze my coaching in when I can. It may take a little bit longer.
“But in the end, me and Sammy [Lee], or my previous assistants, have always got there with the clubs that I have managed previously so I am confident that I can do the same with the West Brom lads.
“That is why I am here, actually, to do the same as I did there.”