Late last season, supporters grew restless with the style that West Ham was employing in their matches, and they wanted Sam Allardyce sacked. Now, with famous victories over Liverpool and Manchester City under his belt, those same fans are singing his praises and he’s basking in the glow.
Not to say that Allardyce shouldn’t shoulder any blame on how those fans felt in April and May. They were promised when he signed on at Upton Park with more attractive football that was pleasing to the eye. Instead, they were treated to the direct football Big Sam was known for (rightly or wrongly), as high passes were brought down by Andy Carroll and latched onto by Kevin Nolan. It brought some results but not as successful as many wanted.
The start of this season brought a bit of change, already having a solid core unit led by decent players like Stewart Downing and Mark Noble. In addition, West Ham made several key signings to their staff. First, they brought on Teddy Sheringham as an attacking and finishing coach. They also made two shrewd forward signings that have brought a different dimension to the Hammers’ game. Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia have given the Hammers an athletic edge missing from their squad in the past. The two mercurial forwards can use their pace, win headers in the area, and create quality opportunities for counter attacks on the ground. To strengthen the midfield, they took Alex Song from Barcelona on loan. He brings in a bit of steel to that midfield and can play a decent pass into the attack and allow players like Downing and Noble to take care of their business in front of him. With all that, they are sitting in fourth place in this early season. No many are tipping the London side to be there at the end, but they will be highly competitive and looking towards an Europa League spot at least.
Big Sam is flying on cloud nine at the moment, seemingly proving his doubters wrong with the idea that he only played one style of football. He’s even made a couple of sly jabs towards Pellegrini, Rodgers, and Wenger, suggesting that they do not know how to adjust and are stubborn when it comes towards style of play.
It can be argued that Allardyce has a point to a certain extent. However, with this sort of assertion from a guy with his typically gruff exterior coupled with the way he has rubbed many people wrong, no one wants to hear him speak on managers who have been more successful than he has to this point. But with the lack of pregame and in-game adjustments from these managers (especially Rodgers) it’s clear to see that you at least have to listen to Allardyce’s points.
I, for one, do think he is smarter than he looks. He understands with the advent of the Premier League, the money and foreigners that come in, and the limited budget he usually has to deal with, at times, you have to get adapt to what your team does best. Now, was he involved in buying talent that were rather bullish? Of course he is, but he usually is not able to compete with some of the other teams when it comes to high quality technical players. So he tries to make what he has work to be successful. It has not always achieved success and led to him being sacked a couple of times throughout his career, but he has that understanding that the way you play changes with what budget is in your disposal and the playing staff you have to trot out.
Will he ever be England manager? It is difficult to see him being the representation of your national team. Many people think that the highest level of national team football would be a too high of step for him. Along with the charges of taking bungs in 2006, he rubs people the wrong way with his attitudes toward his contemporaries. He would have push back by several of the top managers who want to protect their players.
Not sure Allardyce is worried about those prospects anymore. He would be delighted to gain the opportunity, but it seems as if he is enjoying the every-day grind at West Ham. With some players like Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan regaining fitness to supplement the stars of the beginning of this season, it is looking bright for West Ham and Sam Allardyce.