The fact that Sam Allardyce is still the manager of West Mam United has riled many Hammers fans, but it is only fair and just that the man who has delivered everything that was asked of him when appointed is given a chance of delivering a new set of demands from the club’s owners.
When he was first entrusted with the reins, the demands were simple: get the club back into the Premiership as soon as possible, and ensure that they do not suffer the “second season syndrome” that sucks many a promoted club back down into the Championship. Allardyce achieved exactly that, getting promotion in his first season and ensuring that the tentacles of relegation were sufficiently avoided to ensure another season in the top flight.
But there has been a cost to this success, and all those that witnessed the insipid, jaw-breakingly boring football week in week out have had enough. When winning (or not losing, shall we say) is everything and nothing else matters, then there really is not much point in going to see West Ham play. A trip to the shops with the other half is honestly more appealing. Chairman David Sullivan is obviously in agreement with this, as rumour has it he wanted Sam Allardyce out, and was only appeased by a deal brokered with David Gold, Karren Brady and the manager himself. This deal demands changes to the style of play, to provide more entertainment for the fans, and promises money to sign new “flair” players that will take West Ham to the next level. A new “attacking” coach will also be employed (and presumably not parked on the pitch) to fine tune the skills of the front men.
But wait. Call me old fashioned, but something seems a bit off here. The man Sam Allardyce who has played only one style of football in his whole managerial career, is being asked, nay told, that his side must be more attacking and play with flair. Isn’t that like asking Ed Milliband to start acting cool and hip? It is just not going to work! Sam Allardyce is proud of his “style”, he resolutely defends it and he knows it gets results. He knows no other way. Or so it appears.
So what on earth is going to happen? Is the leopard going to change its spots and start playing for fun? Let’s think about it from Allardyce’s side of the half way line. First, the new attacking coach is Big Sam’s responsibility to appoint. He is going to be Sam’s man. He is also apparently going to be part time! Rumour has it that Teddy Sherringham is the likely candidate. No disrespect to Teddy, but what difference is going to be able to make? Allardyce is still choosing the tactics, the way they will attack. In my opinion it is a token gesture that Sam has conceded, because he knows that it is not going to make the blindest bit of difference. And it is a bit of an earner for Teddy. I wonder if he still has an agent? 😉
So let’s move on to the tactics. Who is going to make way for the flair players? Carroll? Nope. Nolan? Don’t be daft. Noble? Downing? Jarvis? Diame? It just doesn’t add up. I can honestly see the same side turning out come August that ended last year. With maybe a couple of new faces on the bench. I really can. I just don’t think that Allardyce can change. He is just too stubborn and arrogant.
Allardyce believes his way is the right way, and he has made some wishy washy concessions to keep his job. Hopefully I am wrong and we start to see some big changes, but I won’t be holding my breath. I can see the fans getting restless within a few games of the new season, and I wouldn’t be suprised to see Allardyce gone by Christmas, especially if results are poor.
But let’s be optimistic. Old dogs CAN learn new tricks, the West Ham Way will return, and it will be a season to savour. Pretty please?