[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen West Ham’s owners set out their criteria for a new manager to replace the departing Sam Allardyce, they called for someone who could win trophies and take the club to the “next level”.
Sam Allardyce has most definitely left the club in better shape than he found it. However it does seem that every club Allardyce leaves, soon after get relegated. Allardyce strived to reach the targets set by the board which were; get West Ham promoted from the Championship and keep them up. He did exactly that, and you have to respect him for achieving that goal. However this season the targets were to play attacking football and get a top ten finish. Statistically speaking, if the season ran for half the duration, West Ham would be near the top four and Champions League participation, and Allardyce would have kept his job without a shadow of a doubt. Sadly it isn’t.
Fair play to Allardyce, he managed to do well with a restricted budget; one can assume the missed signings were down to the board choosing to take away a quarter of this season’s transfer budget to spend on a new roof. Typical from the owners that seem to love Allardyce and praise him when he does well, but not show a crumb of support when he’s being bombarded by fans for the collective incompetence around Upton Park.
It is unfortunate for West Ham, knowing they were so devastatingly good before Christmas. They were resolute, beating two of the top four from last season and looking good defensively. But three wins since Christmas is relegation form and it was no surprise that Big Sam was sacked. A lot of fans became fed up with his familiarity of blaming missed chances and playing hoof ball. Tactically West Ham were inept post-Christmas, major player injuries were a factor, but with £10 million still left to play with in a transfer window where West Ham could have and should have strengthened, it was an unmitigated disaster.
A good proportion of the West Ham fan-base, in my opinion have turned into an ungrateful lot and have become deluded, and this is coming from a West Ham fan. This whole pursuit of Klopp and Ancelotti is all fine and dandy, but realistically, will they risk their reputation to come and be bullied into making signings they don’t want to, settle for tenth if they’re lucky and settle for a significantly lower transfer budget to play with? Absolutely not. It’s ludicrous to think that managers of the very highest calibre, who have worked at Europe’s elite clubs would want to walk into the witches cauldron of West Ham United, however nice the idea seems to West Ham fans, it is a statistical impossibility.
Chicharito is linked with a move, Chicharito is a wild rumour and is unrealistic, however that doesn’t stop the fans jumping to the conclusion that West Ham will out-muscle any top six side in Germany, Italy, France, Spain and England for his signature. Not forgetting that he would rather play Champions League football instead of Europa League. There a tons more rumours including Marc Bartra, Martin Montoya, Steve Mandanda, Andre Ayew and Yevhen Konoplyanka.
The Allardyce departure has left West Ham in the lurch. Unless they find the right manager with Premier League pedigree, or a manager who has managed in Europe’s top three leagues apart from the Premier League (Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A), then West Ham are in the mire. The Allardyce departure is also a bad move in terms of the Olympic Stadium. If Big Sam is notorious for keeping teams up, then surely with a season to go, it is a no-brainer that Allardyce should have stayed. The biggest season in West Ham’s history is being put at risk by the owners in a suicidal attempt to extract more money from this Premier League deal by obtaining a higher finish. That is without a shadow of a doubt a ‘head’s gone’ moment. That dream of becoming an elite Premier League club should be put on hold until the end of the 2015/16 season, when they finally move to Stratford.
Furthermore, if West Ham want to be an elite club, a real Premier League heavyweight, they have to be financially viable. The worst case scenario is to be playing in the Championship and not filling the quota every week, it would be a failed project and bring them right back to square one. Even though Allardyce is not renowned for attacking football, you know at least he will keep you in the Premier League. When you have a full stadium, you are able to make money and be profitable, which makes you financially viable, which in turn gives you the money to spend on players and wages and make the club profitable. None of this will happen if West Ham go down to the Championship.
Allardyce was shrewd in the transfer market on a tight budget. Cresswell turned out to be one of the bargains of the season at £4million. How on earth did he manage to lure Alex Song from Barcelona, it’s inconceivable? Jenkinson was loaned by Arsenal, deemed to not be good enough to play regularly at Arsenal, but showed his quality with the Hammers. Sakho, Amalfitano, Kouyaté, Valencia were all wonderful signings as well. Allardyce performed extremely well.
Andy Carroll was an asset to Big Sam in a way that he could play this attacking football combined with hoofing the ball to the big man with Sakho, Valencia or Downing coming in behind to intercept, attack and cause problems. When Carroll became unavailable through injury, there were massive problems up front. Knowing that Big Sam’s patented blend of attacking football and hoof ball tactics were so easily disguised when Carroll was available, as soon as Carroll became injured, the West Ham faithful began to condemn him for not playing the ‘West Ham Way’ – which I have never ever seen because they have never ever done anything half decent. This ‘West Ham Way’ in my opinion is a load of old rubbish, under Avram Grant there was no mention of the ‘West Ham Way’, neither under Curbishley, nor Zola, nor Pardew. It is a completely invented way of playing football because there is some personal vendetta against the man himself, his tactics and his version of football. If Allardyce is getting the blame for not playing the style of football that Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst played, then the West Ham supporters are living in the Stone Age.
Europa League qualification is great for West Ham as a club, for the competition, and for the money it brings. The Europa League is discredited as an unnecessary distraction to those clubs who are fighting for the Champions League places, or which don’t have the squad depth to play two games in three days. It is a massive risk for West Ham knowing that they have massive injury problems, lack of squad depth and a restricted budget to play with in comparison to Everton, Newcastle, Tottenham, Swansea, Southampton and Stoke.
If West Ham are to survive, then they must spend, and with the new Premier League deal coming in to play, it allows whoever takes over at West Ham to do exactly that. It is troubling knowing that coach Ian Hendon has also parted ways with the club. Teddy Sheringham, the man who has made them prolific in front of goal this season has also left, on top of having no manager. The European dream looks dead and buried before it’s even begun. I also anticipate a massive squad clear-out from whoever takes over, so I guess it’s also a goodbye to Neil McDonald as well as a few other players.
Last but not least as a West Ham fan, I would personally like to thank Sam Allardyce for his service to the club. There have been many highs and lows under his tenure. I will always remember the Play-Off final. I wish him well for the future and I hope he recuperates, knowing all about his health problems. He will always be respected by myself, as he left the club in better shape than he found it.
Football fans have short memories, the second half of the season is what did it for him and it was what fans will remember. I respect the boards decision, though it is not a decision I personally would have made. They have done what they believe is right for the club and you must respect that. The wheels have been set in motion for someone to take over and improve the squad, and the club’s board, who I have a love/hate feeling towards, have improved the club financially and have given us a springboard via the Olympic Stadium which hopefully, if managed right, will allow us to compete with the Premier League elite for years to come.
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