Sam Allardyce was sacked by West Brom 30 years ago and recently admitted he was a Wolves fan – but he insists he is “hungrier than ever” to save the Baggies from relegation.
The Dudley-born 66-year-old was back at his no-nonsense best as he was unveiled as head coach at The Hawthorns after more than two years away from management.
Allardyce, who took Bolton into Europe, got West Ham promoted and rescued Sunderland, Blackburn, Crystal Palace and Everton from the drop, has arguably his toughest assignment yet with West Brom 19th with one win from 13 games.
But ‘Big Sam’, who agreed an 18-month contract to succeed the sacked Slaven Bilic on Wednesday, said: “I’m hungrier than ever. I’ve never been so refreshed and eager.
“I’ve never had such a long break, it will have been three years in May. This break went on so long I had lots of pent-up energy, and I need to expend it. I want to expend it in this battle.”
Allardyce’s admission last year that he grew up a Wolves fan may not have endeared him to fans on the opposite side of the Black Country rivalry.
But he added: “I used to go to Wolves when I was younger, but I used to come here too. My school mate’s brother used to play for West Brom in the 60s.
In many ways Allardyce has come full circle as he takes the reins at his eighth Premier League club.
Allardyce’s first role in coaching was at The Hawthorns, but when he stepped up as assistant to Brian Talbot, it did not go entirely to plan.
“I didn’t like getting sacked within two weeks,” he admitted. “But I have to say I got sacked rightly so, because we lost here in the FA Cup to Woking.
“Of course that was the end of me and Brian and it was a devastating blow to me because it was my first job. So I didn’t know when or if I’d get back into football ever again.
“It took me on the journey of all journeys. I had to go to Limerick to find a job, and work my way through the leagues to get to where I am now. And here I am again!”
Allardyce’s first match in charge will be a visit from midlands derby rivals Aston Villa on Sunday.