West Brom star Chris Brunt is wary of the Sam Allardyce effect in today’s vital Premier League clash with Sunderland.
The Northern Ireland star is on a high following his country’s success in qualifying for the Euro 2016 finals, but acknowledges the importance of today’s Hawthorns clash, with Albion in fourth-bottom spot, only five points better off than the second-bottom Black Cats, with Allardyce in charge for the first time.
“You can never really tell how a team is going to react when a new manager comes in,” said left-back Brunt.”
They are in the same boat as we are in terms of needing to get points on the board and win the game.
“We know that it is going to be very difficult, Sam Allardyce, just like our gaffer, is a very experienced Premier League manager.
“I’m sure they will both know plenty about each other and how they will want to try and play.
“As the home team we will try and take the game to them and hopefully get three points on the board, we want to get that first win at The Hawthorns.”
Albion have lost their last two league games, to Everton and Crystal Palace, to plummet down the table.
He added: “We know that we are conceding too many goals and not scoring enough and it is never a good combination, especially at home.” The Man City game was dead after the first 20 minutes but we gave a good account of ourselves in the Chelsea game.
“The clean sheet against Southampton wasn’t the best game but we were solid defensively which is what Tony Pulis expects from us.
“For the first 60 minutes against Everton we were pretty good and it was probably the best we have played all season.”
The last half hour it was almost like somebody pressed the red button and we blew up. After that, we couldn’t quite bounce back against Crystal Palace but that game feels like a long time ago now after having the international break.
“The lads are raring to go and looking to put things right,” he told wba.co.uk.
Brunt sees a run of crucial games, including the Sunderland showdown.
He added: “We have games against teams that are going to be expecting to be around us and finishing in the same area.
“The top six teams are going to be difficult to catch but I think the rest of the league is anybody’s game, that is why the Premier League is so exciting to watch.”
Albion’s Jonny Evans, James Morrison, Saido Berahino and Salomon Rondon are only rated as 50-50 chances to be fit to play.
Ex-Sunderland loanee Evans is still struggling with the groin strain he suffered against Crystal Palace, while Morrison has an ankle injury and Berahino has picked up a knock in training.