After West Ham’s very surprising win against Spurs at the weekend, things have all gone a little crazy. True, it was great to get a win, and Ravel Morrison’s goal was sublime, but the hyperbole that followed was surely mind bogglng. Not only has Sam Allardyce become an Italian tactical maestro all of a sudden, but Ravel Morrison is also a genius who walks on hallowed ground.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Ravel is a serious talent and we are fortunate that he seems to have turned his life around and is realising his potential while at West Ham. But heaping such praise so soon on such a young, precocious talent is asking for trouble. Considering his past, I can only hope that the manager and fellow players manage to keep his feet firmly on the ground and don’t let things go to his head. If they can do this, and Ravel can keep working hard and learning, then we are in for some exciting times ahead. One gripe though – it grates with me that the person who has done most to get Ravel’s head sorted out is not getting any of the credit. Step up Lee Clark, who was Ravel’s manager while he was on loan at Birmingham. It would be nice if Allardyce publicly credited him for his part in turning the boy around, but so far there has been nothing. Shame on you, Mr Allardyce.
Now on to Big Sam and his tactical masterstroke. What exactly did he change? We have known that without Andy Carroll we have no decent strikers, yet Big Sam has persisted with Maiga up front on his own in the Andy Carroll role, week after week. Against Spurs the penny finally dropped, and we started with …no strikers. The tactics were generally the same though – defend in numbers and try and hit them on the break. This time, with no “big” man up front to hit, the midfield became the front line. And it kind of worked. We got a set piece goal from Reid, a flukey goal courtesy of a break from midfield from Vaz Te, and Morrison’s goal. We defended well, but Spurs could have had a couple of goals, and they played quite poorly overall. A hangover from their midweek trip to Europe? Who knows. But what I am saying here is this. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We had a good day, a fair sized portion of good fortune, a great goal from Ravel and a strong all-round performance. We have the visit of Man City up next, no Andy Carroll again, and the likelihood of a repeat of the formation and tactics. If we get beaten at home by City playing 4-6-0 again and trying to just hit them on the break, I’m sure that that will be the last we will hear of Big Sam Allardicci.