Can he save Leeds? Remembering Big Sam’s firefighting record

Sam Allardyce is back in the Premier League after being appointed as Leeds manager on a deal until the end of the season.

Leeds have turned to the Premier League’s most notorious firefighter to stop their slide towards the relegation places, with Allardyce having forged a reputation for arriving mid-season and saving clubs from the drop.

Leeds are without a win in five games and conceded a record-breaking 23 goals in April alone. Can Allardyce turn things around at Elland Road and secure survival?


We’ve looked back at each of ‘Big Sam’s’ mid-season managerial appointments.

Blackburn – 2008/09

Allardyce was appointed as Blackburn manager during the 2008/09 season, after Rovers had dropped into the Premier League’s relegation places after a run of six straight defeats under predecessor Paul Ince.

Allardyce had endured a disappointing short spell at Newcastle before the move to Ewood Park, but immediately showed his ability to get more out of the struggling side. He began with a 3–0 victory over Stoke City, the first in a nine-game unbeaten run that lifted Blackburn out of the relegation places.

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Blackburn – 19th at the time of Allardyce’s appointment – lost just once at home from his appointment in mid-December until the end of the season, form which saw Rovers reach the relative safety of 15th, seven points clear of the drop zone.

Allardyce led Blackburn to tenth and the League Cup semi-finals the following season, despite the sale of leading scorer Roque Santa Cruz to Manchester City. He was surprisingly sacked during the 2010/11 season, following a disagreement with the club’s new owners, the Venky family.

Sunderland – 2015/16

After a spell at West Ham that saw Allardyce lead the Hammers back into the Premier League at the first time of asking, he departed the Hammers at the end of the 2014/15 season. Allardyce was back in a Premier League dugout just months later however, after he replaced Dick Advocaat as Sunderland manager in October 2015.

Sunderland had opened the campaign without a win in eight games to sit 19th in the table. Allardyce – who became the first manager to have managed both Sunderland and Newcastle – secured his first win against his former side in his second game. Sunderland thrashed Newcastle 3-0 in the Tyne-Wear derby to kickstart a run of three wins from five games.

However, five straight defeats in December left Sunderland mired in trouble and Allardyce dipped into the transfer market to strengthen his struggling squad. In came Lamine Koné, Jan Kirchhoff and Wahbi Khazri during the January transfer window and each contributed to a late climb to safety.

Sunderland lost just one of their last 11 league games of the season and a 3-0 win over Everton in the club’s penultimate fixture confirmed their top-flight status, condemning North East rivals Newcastle to relegation.

Crystal Palace – 2016/17

Allardyce’s performances at Sunderland earned him the England manager’s job, but a long-held dream turned into a nightmare and he left the position after just one match and 67 days in charge.

Allardyce was at the centre of a newspaper investigation that saw him offer advice on how to ‘get around’ rules on player transfers and departed the national side after the FA deemed his conduct ‘inappropriate’.

Crystal Palace offered Allardyce a route back into football as the Eagles turned to a man with a proven track-record of saving struggling sides. Palace – who had reached the FA Cup final the previous season – were 17th in the Premier League table when Allardyce was appointed in December 2016, after a run of one win in 11 games.

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Allardyce failed to win in his first five fixtures and won just once in his opening eight, but results steadily improved across the second half of the campaign. Four consecutive wins in February and March – including a 2-1 win at eventual champions Chelsea – saw Palace climb from the bottom three.

Palace also took the scalps of Arsenal and Liverpool – the latter result seeing Christian Benteke score twice against his former side at Anfield – to end the season 14th.

Everton – 2017/18

Allardyce unexpectedly announced his exit from Crystal Palace at the end of the 2016/17 season, in a decision many viewed as retirement from club football.

He was tempted back into the Premier League just months later however, as Everton sought a new direction following Ronald Koeman’s sacking. Everton were 18th after a disappointing start to the season under Koeman, before caretaker David Unsworth oversaw an upturn. Allardyce inherited a team 13th in the table.

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He led the side to an eighth-placed finish, but left at the end of the season with Everton fans unhappy with the club’s brand of football under his management. The Toffees ranked 19th in the Premier League for shots on target under Allardyce.

West Brom – 2020/21

Allardyce replaced Slaven BIlic as manager of West Brom during the 2020/21 season, but was unable to save the club from relegation.

West Brom’s drop into the Championship came after Allardyce won just four of his 26 games in charge of the Baggies and marked the first ever Premier League relegation of his managerial career.

Relegation was confirmed after a 3-1 defeat at Arsenal in May and Allardyce stepped down from his role at The Hawthorns at the end of the season.

Read – Sam Allardyce – His best ever quotes

Read Also – Five England players who could be relegated this season

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