Sam Allardyce says Leeds United “have a long way to go” in terms of squad quality and has conceded it would be a “miracle” if they stayed in the Premier League this season.
Leeds suffered a 3-1 defeat to West Ham United at the London Stadium on Sunday, leaving them on the brink of relegation with one match left to play.
The West Yorkshire side — 18th in the table — need to win their final league game against Tottenham Hotspur and hope Everton fail to pick up points against Bournemouth to have any hope of remaining in the top flight.
Allardyce said to Sky Sports: “Obviously, very disappointing. There were lots of things that suggested we had opportunities to get three points in the first half but unfortunately failings in the final third let us down.
“The second half was a bit of a battle, a bit of a struggle and then whatever we tried in terms of changes didn’t improve the situation for us.
“We have to look at ourselves and say if we do win next week and miraculously stay in the league, we have a long way to go in terms of quality for the squad. The first XI really showed up there, but when we need that squad these days, they haven’t quite shown the impact in the short period of time. I may be being unkind to them but it is only what my very experienced eyes are seeing at the moment.”
Leeds took the lead inside 17 minutes after Rodrigo superbly swept home a volley following a long throw-in by Weston McKennie.
West Ham struck back following Declan Rice finding the roof of the net from a Jarrod Bowen cross to keep the scoreline level at half-time.
Bowen put West Ham ahead in the 72nd minute after calmly finishing past goalkeeper Joel Robles, before Manuel Lanzini wrapped up the victory for the east London side during injury time, with Lucas Paqueta assisting superbly.
Leeds have failed to win in their last eight matches, but Allardyce is hopeful his side can pull off a better performance at Elland Road next Sunday — and then hope for a favour elsewhere.
“The challenge is to try to beat Tottenham and deliver a performance,” he added.
“We’ll give ourselves a chance if we win and then see what happens. Our only hope is to win that game. If we don’t make it in the end it’s a case of trying to do your best for the club. I can only try my best and give the players the right instructions to show them how to win a game of football. Unfortunately for me and for them it hasn’t worked yet.”
Insisting he had no regrets at taking up the challenge, he added: “It was always going to be a difficult task. Lots of people said I’m mad for taking it. I’m not mad. I just love football and Leeds United was too big a job to turn down for me, however short it was.
“I sorted this club (West Ham) out when I came and they’re still here (in the Premier League) 10 years, 14 years on. I sorted it out in one season and I’ve sorted a few other clubs out.”
Another potential worry for Allardyce are the injuries to strikers Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo.
Bamford was substituted for Wilfried Gnonto after Rice’s equaliser in the first half, with Rodrigo also picking up a knock.
Allardyce says he may be forced to make a tactical switch if both players are unavailable to play against Spurs.
“If both of those miss, based on what we do have up front, it’s a big ask,” he said. “That is fact. I can’t hide the fact of ‘who am I going to play up front if those two are missing?’
“We might have to choose to play a completely different system to create an opportunity to win a game. From a defensive point of view, we have to work at keeping quiet Harry Kane and Son (Heung-min).”
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