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Allardyce endures nightmare start to his Baggies reign

West Brom 0 Aston Villa 3

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West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce. Photo: Pool via REUTERS/Laurence Griffiths

West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce. Photo: Pool via REUTERS/Laurence Griffiths

West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce. Photo: Pool via REUTERS/Laurence Griffiths

It has been two-and-a-half years since Sam Allardyce last stood in the technical area, and here was a return with a bump as he was given a stark warning of the task ahead at West Bromwich Albion.

This was the club's ninth defeat in 14 Premier League matches this season, leaving them below the dreaded dotted line, and his proud record of never being relegated as a manager is likely to have its most severe test yet.

Two goals from Anwar El Ghazi, including a penalty, and a brilliant finish from Bertrand Traore completed a routine victory for Aston Villa, who have now won five of their six away matches in the league.

Yet Allardyce also experienced a swift introduction to this era of the Video Assistant Referee, with all its maddening inconsistencies, after captain Jake Livermore was sent off in the first half for a crude challenge on Jack Grealish.

Referee Martin Atkinson made the decision after reviewing the incident, but West Brom were furious when Villa's Kortney Hause escaped similar punishment for an appalling lunge on Grady Diangana.

Allardyce will now be acutely aware of the size of the challenge in front of him, after succeeding Slaven Bilic on Wednesday.

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West Bromwich Albion's Darnell Furlong gets his head to the ball first ahead of Matt Targett and Ollie Watkins. Photo: Pool via REUTERS/Laurence Griffiths

West Bromwich Albion's Darnell Furlong gets his head to the ball first ahead of Matt Targett and Ollie Watkins. Photo: Pool via REUTERS/Laurence Griffiths

West Bromwich Albion's Darnell Furlong gets his head to the ball first ahead of Matt Targett and Ollie Watkins. Photo: Pool via REUTERS/Laurence Griffiths

No team has had fewer than eight points after 14 fixtures of a Premier League season and gone on to avoid relegation.

He said: "We've got an easy one next at Anfield, then two days later we play Leeds. We just have to try and make sure we don't do what we did today ever again.

"I've only been here a minute and I'm already talking about Var, which I didn't really want to.

"The sending off has thrown it against us tonight. That was the last thing we needed and I'm upset about that. This is the third sending off, and you cannot keep getting sent off in our position.

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Jack Grealish fires a volley at goal. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/PA Wire

Jack Grealish fires a volley at goal. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/PA Wire

Jack Grealish fires a volley at goal. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/PA Wire

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"You don't need to make a tackle like that. I had to agree with that decision, but with the other tackle, I think we might have got the same decision, he's jumped right down his shin on his ankle.

"If we had a Jack Grealish, with all due respect to my players, we would stay up."

Villa have now beaten Fulham, Leicester, Arsenal, Wolves and West Brom on their travels and the gulf in class between the two teams here was at times vast.

Grealish controlled the game as the central figure of a front three, and Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez did not have a meaningful save to make all evening.

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Aston Villa's Anwar El Ghazi scores his side's third goal of the game from the penalty spot. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/PA Wire

Aston Villa's Anwar El Ghazi scores his side's third goal of the game from the penalty spot. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/PA Wire

Aston Villa's Anwar El Ghazi scores his side's third goal of the game from the penalty spot. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/PA Wire

Dean Smith, the Villa head coach, does not have to worry about relegation battles this season.

He said: "To win three games away from home 3-0 shows we're in a good place. We wanted to negate that new manager bounce that some teams tend to have. Our energy levels were there to see and we controlled it from start to finish.

"Jack was fantastic again, it's like he's playing in the playground with his mates."

West Brom have managed only two clean sheets in the league this season and their deficiencies were clear to see after just five minutes.

Traore was given too much time to float over an inviting cross to the far post and El Ghazi was in space to poke the ball past Sam Johnstone.

Allardyce's anger was tangible, with his frustration already high after Martinez escaped a caution a minute before despite clearly handling the ball outside the penalty area.

He stood in his technical area for most of the evening with his arms folded, chewing gum furiously, and menacing the officials.

Eight minutes before half-time came the pivotal moment of the match, again involving the referee.

Livermore had initially been booked by Atkinson for a reckless lunge on Grealish near the technical areas, but his caution was then upgraded to a red card after the official reviewed the incident on his monitor.

Hause, the Villa defender, should also have been dismissed minutes later for a dangerous challenge on Diangana, yet was only booked despite a Var review.

The standard of refereeing, at all levels, continues to bewilder.

A second goal was inevitable and Villa thought they had it 18 minutes from time, with Ollie Watkins converting Matty Cash's fine cross at the far post. It was ruled out, however, for offside after another Var review.

The goals did arrive in the 84th minute after a fine individual effort from Traore, sliding the ball to the right of Johnstone. El Ghazi added a third from the penalty spot, after Semi Ajayi's foul on Grealish, to complete a chastening evening for Allardyce. (©Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]


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