West Brom vs Manchester United - Match preview

Ten games into his Albion tenure, Sam Allardyce admits things have not gone to plan.

Sam Allardyce head coach / manager of West Bromwich Albion (AMA)
Sam Allardyce head coach / manager of West Bromwich Albion (AMA)

The 66-year-old is the absolute master at keeping relegation-threatened clubs in the Premier League.

His achievements at Bolton, Blackburn, Sunderland and Crystal Palace have been well documented and are the reason he is now in The Hawthorns hot seat.

But Allardyce admits he did not expect to still be trying to work out his best team and system after this many matches with the Baggies.

Everything he has tried so far, with the exception of that win at Wolves, simply hasn’t worked.

Tomorrow’s visit of Manchester United, though, does represent the page turning on to a new chapter in Albion’s season.

From the moment he walked through the door, Allardyce knew his January additions would be key if he was to keep the Baggies in the Premier League.

The visit of Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side is the first time all four of the first-team players he signed last month are likely to start.

Robert Snodgrass, Mbaye Diagne, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Okay Yokuslu all have massive roles to play if Albion are going to defy the odds and somehow stay up.

Speaking after last weekend’s defeat to Spurs, Allardyce admitted the form of those players will now determine what formation he uses in the coming weeks.

And his message to his squad going into the Manchester United game is clear.

With games against fellow strugglers Burnley, Brighton, Newcastle and Crystal Palace following the United clash, they simply have to go on an unbeaten run if they are going to have any realistic chance of survival.

“I was hoping by this stage it would be easier for me to pick a team because of my knowledge and experience of the players over these 10 games,” Allardyce said.

“But unfortunately, because of the inconsistent performances and the results, my mind is still working to try and find those solutions.

“I have tried different players, different systems.

“I’ve not wanted to do that, I wanted to find a consistent team I could pick and only really change it because of injuries, suspensions or fatigue.

“I wanted to be comfortable with it.

“But unfortunately the whole team hasn’t been good enough at keeping the ball out the net.

“Hopefully the new players will help us find some solutions.

“What we have to do is play our very best every week.

“And we have to go on an unbeaten run.

“Can the club go four, five, six games without defeat?

“That is the first challenge for us now. Can we start drawing or winning?

“We need to go on an undefeated run and that will see the points tot up on the board.”

Allardyce knows the four games after Manchester United are likely to define his Albion’s season.

But he still believes his team can get a result tomorrow – with Sheffield United having managed to beat Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side last month.

“There is a chance if we play our best and Manchester United play their best then they will win the game,” the Dudley-born boss continued.

“But if Manchester United are off form and we play our best we’ll have a chance of beating them – just like Sheffield United did a few weeks ago.

“Then we have to make sure we are at our best again against those teams in and around us.”

Meanwhile, Allardyce confirmed Grady Diangana is closing in on a return to the first team.

The winger hasn’t featured for six weeks after injuring his hamstring.

But while the Manchester United game will come too early for him, the 22-year-old is now back in full training.

“Grady is back in training now,” Allardyce said.

“Obviously it’s been a while, so he’ll need a bit more training then we’ll put him back into the squad.”

Speaking at a press conference yesterday morning, Allardyce said he expects everyone else to be OK for tomorrow.

“As far as I know, everyone else is okay,” Allardyce added. “But I’ll have a meeting after this press conference with the medical staff to see how everyone is.”

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