Big Sam on Ipswich
Sam Allardyce pre-match press conference ahead of Tuesday evening’s game with Ipswich Town was a chance for journalists to get the manager’s thoughts on the npower Championship match but also, of course, the latest on possible transfers into the club.
Why are you looking at bringing a striker in?
SA: Having analysed it, we’ve had so many good chances, even against Nottingham Forest we had easy chances that we missed and in some cases did not hit the target. Perhaps the players are getting a little anxious about it, perhaps I moan too much but we all know that we’ve got to do better in that area. If we do better in that area then we’ll start scoring freely. That’ll take a lot of pressure off us as we go into the final stages of a game or the final stages of the season. We all know the anxiety the last few minutes of a game brings up if you’re 1-0 up and the anxiety will now only increase as the games get fewer and fewer. If you’re in control of the game and you punish the opposition then it genuinely takes the anxiety out of everybody.
Are you looking overseas at players?
SA: On the back of our search in this country, the ability for us to find a player that we wanted was rejected constantly, particularly how early we bid and how much money we bid. Unlike most windows, the money hasn’t talked like it normally has. There’s no doubt that sometimes clubs try to squeeze more out of us, while there are some clubs that don’t want to sell to us in the first place if we’re in their division. You just have to live with that and move on. As far as Carlos Tevez is concerned that is not an option for us. I don’t think we’ve got the OK from Manchester City.
Are you looking to get another striker?
SA: I’m trying to get another striker but I thought we were going to get our players early in the window and the only one we managed was George John on loan. Every other option has come and gone and there are all sorts of reasons why they haven’t. During those negotiations, things can happen like agents fees get too big or wages get escalated beyond belief so there are many reasons why a deal breaks down but you must always have a sensible value in your head. You must always protect the fact that the finances at West Ham are extremely delicate in terms of where it lies at the moment. You want to get better players but if it’s too expensive you have to say ‘No’.
You are now top of the npower Championship. Is it a case that you’re now looking over your shoulder?
SA: When you’re in my position the worst thing you can hear is ‘You’re nearly there’. You’re never up until is mathematically certain. Once it is then you can start celebrating. With 19 games still to go there are a massive amount of points still available and you’ve got to gather as many as you can. If you’re good enough as my team was at Notts County [when they were promoted] then you can win it with eight games to go.
Is there still a weight of expectation on the players at the club?
SA: I think they still feel it as the pressure is constant for us. In our group of players there’s only Kevin Nolan at Newcastle that has experienced the need to consistently be winning games week-in, week-out and the pressure that brings. It’s a big ask. You go to bed and you wake up with it. If you can relieve that then that is my job as a manager and you have to try and make the players relax a little bit more. If they’re thinking about it too much it becomes a burden for them rather than a pleasure – pressure should be a pleasure not a burden.