Belfast Telegraph

Allardyce experience could harm Michael O'Neill's West Brom hopes

By Adam McKendry

Sam Allardyce could be the biggest threat to Michael O'Neill's dream of managing in the Premier League with the former England boss seemingly his main rival for the vacant position at West Brom.

The struggling Baggies sacked Tony Pulis yesterday morning after an horrendous run of just two wins in their last 21 games, which has left them one point above the relegation zone.

Fans chanted "Pulis out" after their 4-0 drubbing at home by Chelsea on Saturday, with many voicing their anger with his attritional football in the weeks leading up to the decision to part ways.

The 59-year-old Welshman leaves the club after three years in charge. He succeeded Alan Irvine when the Baggies were a point above the relegation zone in January 2015, eventually leading them to 13th.

They finished 14th in 2015-16 and came 10th last season but failed to win any of their final nine matches.

Albion's assistant manager Gary Megson, who was manager between 2000 and 2004 and returned to the club in the summer, has been put in caretaker charge while the board take their time to make an appointment.

Allardyce obviously brings huge top-flight experience having been boss at Bolton, Blackburn, Newcastle, Sunderland, West Ham and Crystal Palace.

But the 63-year-old earlier this month ruled himself out of the running for the Everton job after they weren't willing to commit to him long-term and sources close to Allardyce believe that he doesn't want a club role, casting doubt over his availability.

Other names linked with the job include former Manchester City chief Roberto Mancini, his fellow countryman Walter Mazzarri, who left Watford at the end of last season, and veteran Premier League manager Alan Pardew, who was last with Crystal Palace in 2016.

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has been linked, too, having led the Blades to second in the Championship but he would considered a major outsider.

West Brom chairman John Williams said: "These decisions are never taken lightly but always in the interests of the club.

"We are in a results business and over the back end of last season and this season to date, ours have been very disappointing.

"We would like to place on record our appreciation of Tony's contribution and hard work during a period of transition for the club which included a change of ownership. We wish him well in his future endeavours."

Pulis released a statement saying: "Over the last three seasons we have achieved a great deal and I am proud to have managed West Bromwich Albion.

"My remit was to develop the squad and ensure we delivered results which would in turn improve the club's financial position. We have achieved this year on year and I am pleased to have played a part in the club's growth.

"Our final league position in the last three seasons has represented the accomplishment of our targets; sustaining our status in the Premier League and delivering stability, throughout the club's transition of ownership."

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