I’ve never been a fan of Sam Allardyce. I attended a game between West Ham vs Blackburn under the Zola reign with Allardyce as the Blackburn manager, where I watched a dire 0-0.
From the first minute to the last, Blackburn time wasted at every opportunity, hoofing it long to the big man up front, feigning injury; you’ve heard it all before, right? On Saturday, I witnessed the same tactics, however my team were the offenders, at home to Stoke City (Stoke!).
I sat there in the West Stand Upper, similar to where I sat a few years back, and I just thought to myself ‘this is just so bad, what is the point.’
After taking an early lead, we frustratingly sat back and invited pressure, making Stoke look like Barcelona at times. In fact, if they hadn’t have equalised in the 95th minute, it would have been the biggest injustice I have seen at a football game. After having two goals disallowed, hitting the post twice and having 65% possession, they were so much better than us it was embarrassing.
I didn’t hold much hope for the game, but I certainly expected a better performance, especially after Sam Allardyce’s comments pre-match where he said we would set up to attack. It’s not just that that has led me to thinking he should go – this poor run we’ve been on since Christmas has just not been good enough.
We started the season with new, exciting signings and to be fair to Sam our football had massively improved. However, the second half of the season has been much like last year, 4-5-1 with a complete lack of pace in midfield.
Downing has been invisible since Christmas and I have no idea how he keeps his place. The fascination Allardyce has with Kevin Nolan really holds the team back, we’ve all seen what Amalfitano can do and that is certainly more than Nolan! Sakho’s goalscoring has taken a hit, but not due to a lack of trying. It’s just he is so far forward on his own that he can’t do it all himself!
At times against Stoke Sakho got the ball and no-one was in the same half as him, so his only option was to try and take on the whole Stoke defence on his own. The rest of the team were in our own 18 yard box, where they had been for most of the match.
We signed Nene, who has a reputation of being creative and being a special player, but we’ve seen him play around 10 minutes of football so far. He only ever seems to get the last two minutes of a game, if at all, which is another strange decision, especially in games where we are crying out for a spark and some creativity.
So at the final whistle, we somehow managed to get a point. I tend to completely ignore Allardyce’s post match comments as it just makes me even angrier with the man. But my mate read them to me, and I just can’t quite believe what I heard. Lets take these two comments:
“We’re struggling to find the key element that will help us to close out games, at the moment we’re panicking towards the end of games and not keeping possession.”
Well, how about we try and keep the ball for more than 10 seconds and not sit back inviting pressure. This wasn’t just the last part of the game, it was the last 80 minutes!
Instead of ‘closing out games’ when we’ve scored after just 10 minutes, how about attacking and trying to add to that lead? It’s not like we are fighting relegation and have loads of pressure on us. We’ve been safe since Christmas, so why not play with a bit of freedom?
“A lot of our players are still new to the Premier League. Cresswell, Sakho, Valencia and Kouyate have all done brilliantly but they are now feeling the pace.”
This comment had me scratching my head. The players he has named have been our best players these last few weeks. In fact, Cresswell got Man Of The Match against Stoke.
I would say Kouyate is having a really good run, too. He scored last week and has been improving. Sakho never stopped running and Valencia has been injured, so how would he be feeling the pace?
I found it a very strange comment indeed. If they are feeling the pace, why not use other players we have? Why doesn’t he take the blame himself? Ever?
So why do I think he should go? He’s done everything the owners have asked. Correct. He got us promoted to the Premier League…just. Achieved a top 10 finish first season back, kept us up last season… just.
Last season, for me, was the worst I have seen, and I include Avram Grant’s season in that. The ‘football’ was absolutely horrific and I use the term ‘football’ lightly. He should have gone last year in my opinion. Never before have I been to a football game and the guy next to me is snoring his head off.
Yes, seriously… and I couldn’t blame him. Throughout his time at West Ham, I have felt less and less connected to the club, even getting to the point where I have no real feeling when the score comes in every Saturday. I’ve never felt like that before and never thought I would!
I used to attend 10-12 games a season, but I stated at the end of last season that I wouldn’t pay to watch us should Allardyce remain as manager. (I attended the Stoke game with free tickets)
So here are the main reasons why I think we should say ‘thanks, but no thanks’ at the end of the season
- Youth and team selection – His constant refusal to use youth players. This started in the Championship and has never improved. Rob Hall, Freddie Sears, Sam Baldock and Junior Stanislas have all been let go, deemed not good enough, yet players like Matt Taylor, Papa Bouba Diop and John Carew were signed. Over the last two seasons, where we have had injuries or no goal scorers, Elliot Lee hasn’t been given the opportunity he deserves after banging them in for the Development Squad. Why not give him a run? We have been safe for months now. And why is Nolan getting in the team before Diego Poyet, who has impressed whenever he has featured? I’ve always thought the ‘Academy’ was a big part of West Ham, Allardyce just seems defiant to do things his own way and ignore that.
- The Relationship with fans – Where to start? Even in his first press conference he laughed off our history. He’s called fans deluded, laughed when we lost (6-0 to Man City in the League Cup and the horrendous 5-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest), cupping his ear to the fans. I get the impression he doesn’t like us and the majority of fans don’t like him. Not a great situation to have at the club, is it?
- Style of play – The Championship season had us playing the sort of football I expected under Sam Allardyce. The big man up front, Carew, Cole, Nolan – we scraped promotion, somehow. The ‘big man up front’ tactic is so outdated. You look at teams around us, like Swansea, Southampton, even Stoke, and they have moved on and play entertaining football, whilst we’re stuck in the dark ages. We are being left behind. The defensive approach is tiring to watch, especially when we’ve been safe for four months.
- Signings – The number of poor signings he has made since being at the club. From Pogatetz to Roger Johnson. This year has been good but I think that is mainly down to David Sullivan, who demanded that he has more of a say on signings.
- Contract – The owners, as we all know, were reluctant to pay him off last year. But this season they don’t have to as he is out of contact. No compensation whatsoever. A perfect time to say ‘thank you, Sam, for your hard work, but we’re going in a different direction.’
- New Stadium – With the new Stadium on the horizon we should be able to attract a big name. Managers that have been linked with the West Ham job: Rafa Benitez, Slaven Bilic, Marcelo Bielsa, David Moyes. All big names who have managed at a higher level. If we are able to attract these sort of names then surely it is a no brainer?
To sum up my whole thoughts on the Sam situation, I think it would be best for all parties that we move on in the summer.
The fans are happy and Sam keeps his reputation intact. Thanks, Sam, for stabilising the club and getting us back into the Premier League, but its time for a fresh start.