All of the connotations associated with West Ham’s history of football over the years were brought into disrepute this summer as notorious long ball merchant Sam Allardyce arrived at Upton Park. However, surely the ‘academy of football’ tag can be forgotten for a while as the club look to bounce back immediately from its relegation from the Premier League last season.
After Avram Grant’s horrific spell in charge last year, things could only get better for the East End club who currently sit second in the Championship after missing a chance to go top last weekend. Allardyce has definitely brought his own style to Upton Park along with pals Kevin Nolan, Joey O’Brien and Abdoulaye Faye.
A large number of Hammers fans were sceptical over the appointment of Allardyce and his perceived negative tactics. Over the years an Allardyce side has been very quick to play the long ball and defensive, but in my opinion he was just utilising what he had at his disposal. Each club he has been at have had players in their side that suit the aerial game, and so it has been successful when used.
Allardyce performed wonders at Bolton and Blackburn and wasn’t given enough time at St James Park (Sports Direct Arena); where it is notoriously a tough place to be a manager. To say that because Big Sam is in charge, then West Hamwill become a dull, physical team is extremely harsh. Playing to their strengths West Ham will keep the ball and use their width, not lump the ball up to 5ft7 Sam Baldock. Talented footballers Jack Collison, Mark Noble and Henri Lansbury defy any Allardyce tradition and the fact that the clubs tallest player; Carlton Cole; cant head the ball anyway, the long ball has rarely been successful.
One thing that Big Sam has given to the Hammers is a tougher mentality and more of a will to win. Last season if West Ham went one nil down, they lost the game. Away from home they were unable to win and rarely scored a goal. Scoring 33 goals in 38 games at the highest level is just unacceptable. However, yes they are playing weaker opposition, but the Hammers have already scored 36 goals this season and have won more than last year, and it’s not even Christmas yet.
Since Alan Pardew left Upton Park in 2006 West Ham have not had the squad to be able to play silky football, as is equally pleasing on the eye as it is on the league table. West Ham fans can’t possibly suggest they were happy with the results over the past 18 months or so and the football has not been much better.
With Allardyce now in charge the Irons will play to their strengths; which is a necessity in the Championship, and will more than likely earn promotion back to top flight as they will go from strength to strength in the second half of the season. With Big Sam one of the favourites with some people to become the next England manager (no thank you) it is in everybody’s interest to sit and watch a few West Ham games this season as his style of football may surprise you, but the impressive results shouldn’t.
Managers such as Ron Greenwood and John Lyall, who sadly past away in recent years, have left a long legacy at Upton Park but West Ham are a very different club to that at the moment and Allardyce will be looking to make a similar successful time during his stay in East London. Given a chance Allardyce will get the Hammers promoted and keep them in the Premier League.