Sam Allardyce says he has to work out why Marcelo Bielsa is “so crazy” ahead of West Brom’s Premier League fixture against Leeds on Tuesday.
Bielsa has drawn praise as well as criticism for his attacking style of play, and though his side has been on the wrong end of some heavy defeats in the Premier League this season, the Argentine told Sky Sports ahead of the 6-2 loss to Manchester United that he is in no rush to change the philosophy of risk-taking.
For Allardyce, a man who has built his reputation on helping clubs stay in the Premier League through doggedness in defence and a more reserved gameplan, it’s a quizzical approach to the game, but one he feels is working at Elland Road.
“I’ve got to work out why he’s so crazy,” Allardyce told reporters after West Brom’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Sunday.
“It’s not ‘crazy’, it’s more his intelligence and his unique style, and I think that it serves the players and serves the club in good stead.”
On Sunday the Baggies became only the second side in 34 Premier League games at Anfield to take points off Liverpool, in what was Allardyce’s second game in charge since taking over from Slaven Bilic.
However, the 66-year-old did not want to dwell on the result, and said he was excited to start analysing Tuesday night’s opposition.
“It will be an interesting thought from myself tomorrow, when we get in and look at how they play,” Allardyce said.
“We’ve got an idea. I watched them a little bit on the telly [on Sunday] against Burnley, I thought Burnley were robbed of a goal.
“We have to find a way of finding out how we can score against them, which sometimes seems pretty easy, but it’s never going to be as easy as that.
“In the opposite sense, they try and go out and score as many goals as they possibly can, so we’ve got to cancel that out.
“When you’re going to play against Leeds you know that we are trying to stop them being as adventurous as they are, but also, can we expose the weaknesses and the gaps and spaces that they leave when they do go all-out attack?”
Big Sam puts his stamp on West Brom
West Brom’s performance against Liverpool showed why Allardyce remains the go-to man for Premier League clubs in crisis, writes Sky Sports’ Nick Wright…
His latest assignment may prove his toughest yet, but 11 days into his reign, there is already a sense of something stirring.
It appeared the Baggies were in for a long night when Sadio Mane struck Liverpool’s early opener. With Mohamed Salah back in the starting line-up, the hosts’ side actually looked stronger than the one that put seven goals past Crystal Palace before Christmas.
But West Brom were outstanding from then on, happily ceding possession to Liverpool and gleefully repelling everything they threw at them. The back four were disciplined and compact. Callum Robinson and Grady Diangana willingly dropped back to make it a back six.
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The result was that Liverpool did not muster their second shot on target until the final minute of normal time, instead sending a series of half-chances high and wide. West Brom were simply too difficult to break down, too well organised and too resilient.
As the game wore on and Liverpool’s frustration grew, West Brom became dangerous at the other end too, counter-attacking with pace and purpose and ultimately testing Alisson Becker more times than the Reds tested Sam Johnstone. “What a fantastic job they did,” beamed Allardyce afterwards.
The 66-year-old is now unbeaten in his last four visits to Anfield, and it is a testament to the effectiveness of his methods that each of those results was achieved with a different club. West Brom remain five points from safety, but with Big Sam at the helm they won’t go down without a fight.
Allardyce: West Brom showed grit
Allardyce hailed the resilience and determination shown by his players at Anfield.
“The key was really good organisation, a team trying their very best to nullify the best team in the league on their own patch,” he told Sky Sports.
“What a fantastic job they did. It’s all about staying in the game when you come here, not opening up too much and not allowing Liverpool to breeze through you winning three or four-nil.
“We kept that tight ship going for a long period of time, which I thought was very good considering we went a goal down so early on in the game.
“The resilience of the side gave us an opportunity to create more, get up the pitch and pass the ball better in the second half.
“I think the lads have shown a lot of grit, determination and organisation. They’ve shown team spirit at a very difficult place. They have fought for each other.
“I saw a lot of guts, a lot of determination, and ultimately, for the goal, a lot of quality.”
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