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Sam Allardyce: West Brom are playing for pride

Sam Allardyce has told Albion’s players to make themselves and their families proud by ending the season on a high.

West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce and assistant Sammy Lee (right)
West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce and assistant Sammy Lee (right)

The Baggies, whose relegation to the Championship has been confirmed, host West Ham tonight before closing out the campaign at Leeds on Sunday.

This evening’s match will be the first time Allardyce has managed Albion in front of a home crowd with approximately 6,000 fans expected at The Hawthorns.

And the boss is hoping his players will give those fans a night to remember while also filling them with optimism for the 2021/22 campaign.

Ever since Albion’s relegation was confirmed following defeat at Arsenal this month, Allardyce has stressed the need to finish the campaign in the right manner.

The Baggies were seconds away from getting a result against Liverpool on Sunday – only to denied by what is now a famous header from goalkeeper Alisson.

Kyle Bartley was also cruelly denied a goal in that game thanks to a hugely controversial VAR call.

Allardyce, though, says he has nothing but praise for the way Albion’s players have conducted themselves this season even if they have fallen short. And he has urged them to give it one more push for the final two games of the campaign.

“I always say to the players your first responsibility lies with your family and doing the best you possibly can for yourself and your family,” the 66-year-old said. “We want to end the season as strongly possible. And they need to do that for themselves and their families.

“They come first. Then the club you work for. Then the fans. And then your manager.

“The players don’t need to like me.

“But I do ask them to respect me and what I do for them. My respect for them comes from seeing them go and try to play in the right way. “To get a result in the Premier League, that is different in every single game.

“But I’m pleased with how they do that and how they take on those instructions.

“I’m pleased with how they do that. Unfortunately we have just come up short. But I can’t knock them because they have tried to do the right things on a consistent and regular basis.”

It has been well documented Allardyce will make a decision on his long-term future at The Hawthorns after tonight’s game.

But whether he stays or goes, his team selection against Liverpool did have an eye on the future.

Grady Diangana – who shone in the Championship last year – earned his first start since January with Allardyce revealing post match he feels it’s important the 23-year-old now gets some game time ahead of next season.

Hal Robson-Kanu was awarded his first league start of the season and marked it with a goal, while off the bench, Jake Livermore and Karlan Grant were also given minutes having barely featured over the past few months.

You would expect Diangana to get another chance to impress tonight, especially as he had to spend most of his time in his own half against Liverpool.

But you can’t help but wonder if Allardyce will give Grant the chance to show what he can do from the off. Like Diangana, the 23-year-old needs reintegrating into the team after Albion signed him in £17.5million deal last summer.

And his pace could be a useful weapon with Allardyce expecting his team to be at their most dangerous when on the counter-attack.

“They are going for it,” Allardyce said when asked about a West Ham side looking to cement their spot in seventh position in the table.

“They are playing open, attacking, football and they are trying to put teams under pressure. “They are using their attacking players and trying to get them forward as often as they can.

“They will be difficult to defend against.

“But if we show the right commitment and resilience, we will hopefully block them out.

“And going forward, if they do commit that number of players forward, they will leave openings and we will try to exploit that.”

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