Sam Allardyce is hoping the fear factor can summon a survival miracle as his buoyant West Brom side head into another must-win clash against Southampton at The Hawthorns on Monday night.
Despite the Baggies’ heroics at Chelsea last Saturday they remain stranded nine points from safety after this weekend’s action and knowing anything but back-to-back wins for the first time this season will effectively consign them to their fate.
But Allardyce has won enough relegation scraps to hold out hope that rather than being a flash in the pan, the 5-2 win at Chelsea emphasised his players’ acute awareness of exactly what is at stake.
Allardyce said: “There are many things I’ve experienced in a relegation battle, and I think the fear is what I think may cause some players to play better.
“The fear is that they are facing being relegated and losing their status as a Premier League player, losing their financial status by going into the Championship, and possibly being sold off a club that is not as good as this one.
“I think you accumulate all that, that is a bigger insight to me on what may produce the sorts of performance that shock everybody – and I certainly hope the West Brom players can continue shocking people around the Premier League.”
Allardyce admitted he would have preferred not to have waited until the majority of his side’s rivals played at the weekend, with Newcastle’s win at Burnley providing a major hammer blow in their hopes of staying up.
But he is adamant that if his side can continue to repeat the performance that saw them sweep five past Thomas Tuchel’s men, they still have it in them to summon one of the more unlikely escapes in Premier League history.
To that end, Allardyce has sought to make his players aware of their responsibilities not just to themselves, but to those around the club who face an uncertain future in the wake of relegation.
“It’s not just their consequences, it’s the club’s consequences,” added Allardyce.
“It’s the people who work here, and the off-loads and redundancies that would happen at this football club.
“I experienced it when I went to West Ham, and we had to overcome the devastation of relegation, and people who’d been at the club for years losing their jobs through no fault of their own.
“That’s not what I want to happen here, and the players have that responsibility, as well as the responsibility to themselves and their families.”
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