Sam Allardyce will take charge of his first Sunderland game at the weekend, away to West Brom, looking to get the Black Cats their first Premier League win of the season.
Signing a two-year deal, he’ll be hoping to turn his former club’s fortunes and do what many say is the impossible – keep the club in the top flight.
Ahead of the clash at the Hawthorns, we take a look at whether Big Sam has achieved success in his first match in charge in his previous permanent managerial positions?
Allardyce took charge of Blackpool in 1994 with the club looking to get promoted into the Division One. His side finished 12th, having won and lost 18 games in a very inconsistent campaign. The next season Allardyce turned things around, although the Tangerines missed out on an automatic promotion place by one point. They ended up losing the play-off semi-final to Bradford City, and Big Sam was sacked.
In his first game; he fell to one of the heaviest defeats of his reign, losing 4-1 at home to Huddersfield. It was an awful beginning to the season, with braces from Paul Reid and Ronnie Jepson setting Allardyce off to the worst possible start.
Notts County (1997-99)
After a brief spell at Sunderland under Peter Reid, the 60-year-old returned to struggling Division Two side Notts County. He couldn’t save them from relegation, but brought them back up in the next campaign.
In his first game however, Big Sam had better luck than at Blackpool. He started the 1997-98 season with a 2-1 victory over Rochdale, which included an 89th minute winner from Matt Redmile. The win spurred County to overcome Hull in their next game, before losing to Lincoln City.
Bolton Wanderers (1999-2007)
It was Bolton where Big Sam made a name for himself. He led the Trotters to promotion to the Premier League in 2001 and was in charge for their route to the League Cup final, which they eventually lost 2-1 to Middlesbrough. However, Sam’s greatest achievement at the then Reebok Stadium would be guiding them to sixth in the Premier League and UEFA Cup qualification.
The 60-year-old’s first game in charge of Bolton ended in a stalemate though, drawing 2-2 away to Crewe Alexandra, with Eidur Gudjohnsen and Dean Holsworth scoring the goals for the Trotters.
Newcastle United (2007-08)
A managerial post Allardyce would like to forget, having only lasted 24 games and nine months into the job. He built what seemed to be a strong squad and had a relatively decent start to the season, but dropping points against Wigan and Derby along with other disappointing results led to his departure.
Big Sam’s opening game had more to it as well, as he faced former club Bolton at the Reebok Stadium. His new side came out 3-1 winners, thanks to a cool finish from Charles N’Zogbia and an Obafemi Martins brace. Nicolas Anelka pulled one back for the Trotters but the visitors held on.
Blackburn Rovers (2008-10)
Big Sam will look back on his time at Blackburn as an opportunity missed. He helped them reach the League Cup semi-final and remained unbeaten in his first season against the “big-four”. But Blackburn’s takeover deal by Indian company Venkey’s saw him part company with the club.
A very comfortable 3-0 victory over Stoke in the Englishman’s first game was the catalyst for a nine-game unbeaten run. It was a fantastic start of his tenure, aided by goals from Benni McCarthy and Jason Roberts.
West Ham (2011-15)
Promising to play “attractive football”, the 60-year-old took charge of a West Ham side looking to gain promotion back to the Premier League. He achieved just that, winning the play-off final, however, his style of play was under scrutiny from fans. As the supporters started to turn against him, Big Sam’s team still grinded out results with their ‘long-ball’ style of play. Allardyce left at the end of the 2014-15 season, after his contract had run out.
His debut in the Hammers dugout was a painful one too, with Cardiff spoiling his day. A 91st minute winner from Kenny Miller saw the Bluebirds take all three points back to Wales in a 1-0 victory, and left Sam with a few questions over his new squad.
Allardyce’s Managerial Debuts: