A downbeat Sam Allardyce was once again non-committal about his West Brom future as the veteran manager admitted the likelihood of relegation from the Premier League is “difficult to swallow”.
The 66-year-old has a break clause in the 18-month deal he signed last December in the event Albion finish in the bottom three, a prospect that seems probable with the club 10 points off safety with only four matches remaining.
While Allardyce is acutely aware of their predicament heading into Sunday’s trip to Arsenal, he would not be drawn on his plans beyond the end of the season until second-bottom Albion’s fate becomes known.
“There’s no definite update,” he said. “I wouldn’t tell you even if I knew myself. I wouldn’t tell anybody. What’s happening with myself is undecided just yet, I suppose next week we’ll have more in-depth discussions.
“When there’s been some planning done, it’s on whether are we going to be in the Premier League or the Championship. That will probably need to go a little bit deeper and farther after the Arsenal game.
“I was hoping there would be no need to speculate about my future because we’d already secured our Premier League status but that’s obviously not the case.”
Allardyce has never been relegated from the Premier League as a manager but that remarkable record will end if his side do not win their last four matches, starting at the Emirates Stadium, where they will be without Ainsley Maitland-Niles because he is unable to face his parent club as part of his loan agreement from the Gunners.
While Allardyce thinks performances have improved since he succeeded Slaven Bilic, the former Bolton, West Ham and Everton boss feels aggrieved that they have been unable to build sufficient momentum, particularly in recent weeks.
“The sad thing is there’s been many times we could have made life easier for ourselves,” he said. “We should be at least one place higher. The consistent level of performances have given us a big chance to try to get there.
“Ultimately it can only be ourselves to blame that we got so close but yet so far. That’s what makes me pretty sad: we’ve come so far for what looks like in the end no reward. That is difficult to take and difficult to swallow.”
Allardyce, whose side have won just five matches all season, revealed the job has exasperated him at times but he insisted he wants nothing less than wholehearted effort from his players for the rest of the season.
“I haven’t got a magic wand,” he added. “I have confidence in the players and their performances, I have said to those players twice this week ‘I will not accept anything other than 100 per cent’.
“Of course, I know what their best level is now, nobody can pull the wool over my eyes any more, they’ve got no excuse not to give anything other than their best.
“I cannot show my frustration when I’m working with the players day-in and day-out, if you show your frustration that’s you not doing your job correctly. But I have been frustrated many a time on my own, thinking ‘if only…’.
“It’s a difficult challenge for them but if they give their best then that’s all I can ask and hopefully that will be good enough to get us a few more victories before the end of the season.”