Sam Allardyce has had a difficult job to win over West Ham fans. Despite a poor campaign last time around, the co-owners decided to stick with him but should they be cautious about offering him a further deal?
He took over in June 2011; initially signing a two-year contract with two specific aims: the first to achieve promotion at the first attempt; the second to establish the team in the top-flight.
Although they were in the top two for most of that season, a dip in form meant the Hammers finished third and were slightly fortunate to overcome Blackpool in the play-off Final. Nonetheless, first objective achieved.
The following season, Allardyce not only secured safety for West Ham, he even ensured that they finished in the top ten. Looking good!
David Sullivan and David Gold always said they would review his contract at the end of the 2012/13 campaign but, once that top half finish had been confirmed with games to spare, a two-year extension was signed before the penultimate game of the season.
Since Allardyce took over, certainly in the first two seasons, their records at home and away have been very different. In their promotion campaign they were better on their travels than they were in front of their loyal fan base, whereas the following season they picked up most of their results, including a few creditable ones, at Upton Park.
Last campaign however, it was a different story. In the summer of 2013, Big Sam persuaded the board to make Andy Carroll’s loan deal from Liverpool permanent and a fee of around £15m was agreed with the Reds.
Since his arrival at Upton Park, Carroll has been beset by injuries and it was clear that another striker was needed but there was not enough money in the budget.
It soon became clear that this was a big problem. Allardyce had placed his faith in Modibo Maiga but after some dreadful performances he was swiftly dropped.
After the transfer window closed and reality had set in, Carlton Cole returned to the club who had released him earlier that summer in order to fill the considerable void left by Carroll’s absence.
Following the opening day win against Cardiff things started to go downhill and only a further two points were picked up before their next win at Spurs in October; the second of only ten victories in the entire season. Thankfully, an unbeaten run in February helped the team up to their final total of 40 points which is usually the bare minimum for survival.
Although the fans were pleased to see West Ham stay up, they had clear issues with the way that they were playing and at the end of that season, the Board called a meeting to discuss the way forward.
It was agreed that Allardyce would see out his current contract but only if he employed a more attacking style of play and to be fair, this he has done. But the Board also wanted to be more involved in the selection of the playing staff brought in.
True, better players have arrived and the club has already won five games so far this season, including wins against last season’s top two. But the question remains, who made these key decisions?
In an interview with Sky Sports News last week, Sullivan suggested that they will once again review matters at the end of the season. There are other candidates out there with the motivational skills of Big Sam. Tony Pullis, Malky McKay, Glenn Hoddle perhaps? For now at least, the bad memories from last year are fading and if this amazing start continues then Sam could still be the one to take the club into their new home.