Leeds United confirmed the appointment of Sam Allardyce as their manager until the end of the season this week, and the experienced Englishman will have to perform a minor miracle to keep the Yorkshire outfit up.
With a salary of £500k and a potential bonus of £2.5m on the table for the 68-year-old should Leeds remain in the top flight, Allardyce will have to do everything in his repertoire if he wants to pick up some results.
Games against Manchester City, Newcastle United, West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur are on the agenda for the Whites, with just goal difference distancing them from the relegation zone as it stands, so it seems certain that they will have to pick up a result in at least one of those games.
Although he only has four games and four weeks to work his magic with a demoralised Leeds squad, he will certainly call upon his vast experience when deciding upon how to get the best out of his new players.
One man who could prosper under the Englishman is Leeds’ top scorer, Rodrigo, as if he is unleashed in an attacking-midfield role, he could perform a similar job to that of Kevin Nolan, who thrived in a shadow-striker position under Allardyce at Bolton Wanderers.
Could Rodrigo be Allardyce’s next Kevin Nolan?
As per Transfermarkt, Allardyce’s preferred formation is often a 4-2-3-1, which suggests that he could go with a similar tactic for the final four games of Leeds’ campaign.
No player has featured more or scored more goals under Big Sam than Nolan, with 23 assists and 75 goals to his name across 430 appearances during his time at Bolton Wanderers and the Hammers.
The Englishman featured primarily as an attacking midfielder who supported a natural striker, forming a memorable partnership with Andy Carroll at both Newcastle and West Ham, which is a tactic that Allardyce could look to implement once again at Elland Road.
If Rodrigo can feature as a shadow-striker and link up effectively with Patrick Bamford, it could see him rediscover his goalscoring form, with no goals or assists to his name since the 4-2 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers back in March.
There is no doubt that the former Valencia man can be “brilliant” and a “class above” – as hailed by both Micah Richards on Sky Sports (via LeedsLive) and by BBC pundit Pat Nevin – when at his best, but he failed to build on his exceptional start to the season under Javi Gracia, so will be hoping that Allardyce holds the key to unlocking him for the final few games.
A tactical switch moving him to a deeper attacking-midfield role, in a similar vein to Nolan, could just do the trick.