Sam Allardyce might’ve only been in charge of West Brom for four matches, but in that time he’s quickly realised that the current squad needs as much help as the club can lay its hands on in this month’s transfer window.
Albion were convincingly swept aside by Arsenal at The Hawthorns on Saturday night, their second heavy home defeat in the space of five days.
It leaves the club six points adrift of safety with a number of their survival rivals with games in hand, too, and there is a fanatical frustration on all sides. The supporters, quite understandably, vented their frustrations this week while Allardyce has been left with a hand tied behind his back as he seeks to adequately coach the players within the constraints of the ongoing pandemic.
Before business is conducted, which ought to be relative to Albion’s situation – their outlay in the summer was a sizeable one and there aren’t millions readily available to the recruitment team – it’s left the club and the current squad in a painful limbo during which time they’re being subjected to drubbing after drubbing.
“It’s only just started, but we’re doing all we can – finding a player in this pandemic means it’s the hardest window I’ve ever worked in,” Allardyce said. “No disrespect to my players at all, because they’re all trying as hard as they possibly can but I do have to try and find better players to lift the squad and lift their confidence because that’s what’s happened at every other club I’ve been at in the January window.
“That’s always been well greeted by the squad that we’ve already had – we’ve then got better results, moved up the table and everybody is happier.”
Allardyce accepts that he won’t be subjected to the sort of funds he enjoyed at Sunderland, at Crystal Palace and at Everton. Across rescue missions with those respective clubs he attracted names like Theo Walcott, Patrick Van Aanholt and Lamine Kone who helped to transform the fortunes of the sides they joined.
Instead, it’ll be potential freebies on the agenda for Allardyce, or usage of their remaining allocation of loan deals either here in the UK or abroad.
“We’ve got three loans left,” Allardyce continued. “That’s not committing the club to any long-term contracts that may occur in the fear that the owners or board may feel that ‘what happens if we don’t stay up?’ – I understand all that.
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“We talked about that before we came, but what we can do is get, as loans or on short-term contracts, players who may be out there in Europe or in this country.
“We have one loan in this country and two loans in foreign countries. The new rules mean that it’s more difficult than it used to be, but we must try if possible to get a better player – whatever player, however many players come in, they must be better than what we have and almost capable of going straight in the team immediately.”