Upon leaving the Etihad Stadium in January after a 6-0 humiliation in the first-leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final, the hope of any success under Sam Allardyce was at an all time low.
Having been lucky enough to watch the game from the comfort of City’s impressive Director’s Lounge, the opportunity to demand answers from co-chairman David Sullivan at the end of the game was too hard to pass up. He exclusively told West Ham World that sacking Allardyce was not the answer and that it’d cost too much money to do so at that time. Not exactly music to the ears of fans who had seen the Hammers humiliated in the FA Cup third round against Nottingham Forest the week before that pathetic capitulation at City. The whole situation was becoming more and more ludicrous and the fact Allardyce’s job was safe was almost laughable
Fast forward just nine months and all those calling for Allardyce’s head are being forced to hold their hands up and admit the board made the right decision, and rightly so.
Yesterday’s win against City had a lot more about it than just three points against the Premier League champions. It was already our fifth league win of the campaign, having had to wait until February to bring up five wins in the league last season. It was our first win against City since 2009. And, quite fittingly, it was Sam Allardyce’s 60th win in all competitions as manager, bringing his win percentage up to 40.54% and making him the fourth most successful manager in the club’s history so far, behind only Billy Bonds (43.61%), Charlie Paynter (41.25%) and Alan Pardew (41.10%).
Such a landmark is as much to do with Allardyce’s ability to turn things around at the club this season as it is the board’s decision to stay faithful to the man who, in hindsight, had done everything that had been asked of him between the moment he took the job and that well documented meeting this summer.
Allardyce was told he must secure promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking in his first season. Job done. He was then told he must ensure we stay in the Premier League in our first season. Job done. And then he was told he must ensure we become an established Premier League side. Job done.
And now he has been tasked with delivering a more attractive style of football as we edge closer to a move to the Olympic Stadium that could be the start of a successful and exciting era at the club. So far so good.
And it’s those aforementioned facts that makes last season’s calls for change absurd. Of course the football was ugly. Of course we believed we deserved better as fans. Of course there were questions that needed to be answered. But now, in hindsight, it is clear Allardyce’s job should not have been one of those questions.We’ve been pretty sensational so far this season. The nine new players that arrived in the summer have all impressed in one way or another. Diafra Sakho has been a revelation. Enner Valencia has been breathtaking. Alex Song has been world class.We’ve wiped the floor with Liverpool, made easy work of Crystal Palace, Burnley and QPR, and seen off champions Man City. And that’s all down to the new look side and new look approach that Allardyce has successfully implemented. It’s been refreshing.
And if you compare our opening nine league games to our previous two seasons in the top flight, you’ll see that the improvement has been all over the pitch, from defence through to attack.
West Ham stats per game
The above confirms what we already know, but serves as a clear indication of the good work Allardyce has done since last season. Yesterday’s win against City was probably the final nail in the ‘Sam Out Brigade’ coffin.
The move to the Olympic Stadium is expected to bring a new era to the club, one that delivers European football and silverware. Sam Allardyce wasn’t expected to be the manager capable of getting said era off to the best possible start. But he’s proving that he might just be the man to do so after all and, should we continue the form we’re in at the moment and build on yesterday’s victory then we could perhaps suggest the new era is beginning right now, two years ahead of schedule.
We all know we’re not going to stay in the top four for the whole campaign. We all know that we’re going to suffer a couple of disappointing results this season. But what we do know is that we’re not overachieving and playing in Europe next season is a real possibility. What a fitting farewell to the Boleyn Ground that would be.
Nine months ago we were being humiliated in both domestic cup competitions and staring relegation back to the Championship square in the eyes. Now we’re fourth in the Premier League and deservedly beating last year’s top two teams.
So here is an apology to Sam Allardyce. We were wrong. The board was right. Sam Allardyce IS the right man for the job. Long may his reign continue.