Over the past 24 hours I have been locked in a war of tweets with fellow West Ham supporters who’s views on the current situation at Upton Park seem to be based more on sentiment rather than practicality and common sense.
We’re in relegation form, there’s no hiding away from that. Just three Premier League wins from our last 14 games doesn’t make pretty reading and we have known for a while that a combination of injuries and the inability to stick a few in the onion bag have led to the wheels falling off what was promising to be a successful first season back in the top flight.
Some argue that Allardyce’s reluctance to go 4-4-2 often enough has been costly, while his substitutions have been suspect over the past few weeks. Both of those opinions I can partly agree with. But how can we rediscover the form of earlier in the season? How can we perform the same way that saw us beat Chelsea and Newcastle? How can we ensure we don’t get sucked in to yet another relegation battle.
Well let me assure you one thing – Paolo Di Canio is certainly NOT the answer. Not yet, anyway. Of course we all dream of Paolo taking us in to Europe as manager and winning trophies with us. But he isn’t going to do that now.
He is doing a great job at Swindon at the moment – agreed. He is showing promise as a young, emerging manager learning his trade in the lower divisions – agreed. But can he make the step up to the Premier League and make an immediate, positive impact? Is he going to do a better job than an experienced Sam Allardyce? I don’t think so, and here’s why…
Despite Paolo being a strong, passionate character, there is a massive difference between the demands of League One/League Two and the Premier League. Expectations and the pressure of succeeding is one hundred times higher. His inexperience at the highest level of the English game will count against him in the ever-developing, money-driven, pressure-based Premier League.
Many claimed on Twitter last night that Paolo will do well purely because he is passionate about the club. Well, if you can find me an example of a manager being successful at a club based purely on the level of passion they have, then I’ll publicly apologise to all those I challenged and re-follow them in that all important Twittersphere.
The simple facts are that if we want to take a step backwards and start all over again then Paolo will indeed be the right guy to bring in. But if we want to continue the rebuilding process started by Gold, Sullivan and Allarydce at the beginning of last season then we should just stick as we are. It doesn’t take a football expert to know that rebuilding a club from top to bottom doesn’t happen over night, and don’t forget that we’re still a debt ridden club with £80 million still the difference between us being in the black.
And it’s also worth asking yourself this (if you’re one of the fans who wants Allardyce out and Di Canio in) – if Paolo fails and we end up in a worse position than 13th in the Premier League after just being promoted, then what will you think of him then? Will you then be calling for, say, Julian Dicks to take the manager’s job? Just take a moment to think about that before you read on.
We have been an average side for years, arguably since Harry Rednapp left the club in 2001. Some poor decisions have been made since then. The club has been relegated twice, promoted twice, been the subject of two takeovers and had eight different managers (including caretaking stints with Sir Trevor Brooking and Kevin Kean).
Not really the foundations for success really, is it? So how would changing managers again instil the stability the club so desperately needs? The simple answer is that it won’t, and it never will.
Allardyce needs the time to build a squad strong enough to compete in the Premier League. The current squad proved that it’s good enough earlier this season and, if it wasn’t for the damaging injury set-backs to Mohamed Diame and Andy Carroll, we probably would have won some of the games that we haven’t recently. But that’s football, it happens.
Obviously our current form isn’t ideal. We all want to see us winning football matches. We all want to see our strikers scoring goals every week rather than witnessing our midfielders taking on the scoring duties. But a dip in form doesn’t particularly mean we need to change things again, nor does it mean we can’t improve and cement our mid-table position come the end of the campaign.
There is no need to panic, though. If we’re in a worse position at this stage next season then it might be time to question Allardyce and the job he is doing. But not now, not while it’s so early in the rebuilding process.
We’re not going down this season. Not in a million years. Just three more wins and we’ll be safe, and everyone will be praising Allardyce once more.