Sam Allardyce: Stick or Twist?

Big Sam has had a strange career.

Big Sam has had a strange career.

The achievements he reached with Bolton, taking them from the second division in England to playing in the UEFA Cup, the peculiar time at Newcastle, the bizarre dismissal from Blackburn Rovers to reach the very doorsteps of the Boleyn Ground where Gold and Sullivan welcomed him with open arms to see if he could repeat the feat he managed with Bolton and restore West Ham United to top flight English football. While succeeding in this task there has always been a contingent of West Ham fans that haven’t taken to Sam Allardyce, complaining his tactics are too negative and suggesting we can be one dimensional at times – something the media has pinned to Allardyce’s back since his introduction to management in the Premier League.

Though other fans have been more accepting and choose to view the positives of Sam’s play, there have been some games that the Hammers have dominated and have been able to implement some skill and free passing into. So with Big Sam’s contract up at the end of this season it begs the question: Will West Ham United Football Club continue with Sam and offer him a new contract? Or will Gold and Sullivan feel two years is enough and Sam has taken the club as far as he can?

There have been both rumours that Sam and the two David’s have entered contract negotiations but there has also been gossip to the contrary, with some reporting that Allardyce must get the club safe from relegation before talk of a new deal will happen. There are reasons for and against the staying or going of Big Sam, firstly it needs pointing out that the clubs that Sam left, Bolton, Newcastle and Blackburn, were all relegated at some point after he left them, would we want to take in a new manager like Owen Coyle or Steve Kean and risk the same fate ending up back where we were before Sam took charge?

If he were to leave we would need a strong manager. Too many mistakes have been made on this front in recent years at Upton Park, the hiring of Gianfranco Zola and Avram Grant stand out but Curbishley and Pardew weren’t perfect either

Allardyce’s tactics are at their worst when they start off negative and West Ham end up losing, because the fans are bewildered as to why there isn’t more of a threat. For example the recent loss to Aston Villa, Sam got his tactics wrong for this and he would admit it, starting with three at the back may have kept Benteke quieter than he could have been but it left N’Zogbia, who has become a bogey player for West Ham, free to use his pace and the space behind the wing back. There is, however, a lot of unfair criticism on Allardyce. Some fans have never given him a chance because they, like the media, label him with this long ball tag and feel that has no place in West Ham’s history, and their opinions must be respected. But jumping on Big Sam’s back as soon as the team lose a game is only going to generate negativity around the club and for once we have a stable manager and very good owners, I would not swap this for the Icelandic regime and I doubt any of you would.

For a newly promoted side, 11th in the table is a great return, especially with the injuries that have blighted the squad throughout busy parts of the season. We also have some winnable games before the end of the season and in Sam Allardyce, we have a manger who will not allow the club to be dragged into the relegation dogfight. Whenever there is a threat of such a thing he will be able to scream the players into a performance like the one given against Swansea.

Allardyce is also capable of an upset, with games against the two Manchester sides still to come there could be a point or two taken from them, after our terrific performances against Manchester United in both the league and cup. If Allardyce were to leave the club, then what sort of manager would West Ham fans want to take the helm at the club? There have been rumours of former Chelsea player and current Brighton and Hove Albion manager Gus Poyet coming in.

Whilst Poyet is doing good things in Brighton, it would be a big risk to promote him to the top flight and it hasn’t worked out with former Chelsea players or staff in recent season, cough Zola, cough Grant. An even bigger risk would be the romantic return of one Paolo Di Canio to the Boleyn Ground, this is a move that thousands want to see and not a day goes by on social networking site Twitter where a Hammers fan does not write about how great it would be to see the former Swindon Town manager back at the club where he became a cult hero.

But to give him the reigns of what will hopefully still be a Premier League side may be too much too soon and the return of Di Canio should be put on hold for another few years as he proves himself as a manager. So as West Ham United come to the end of the season, hopefully comfortably in the top flight of English football, it will be interesting to see if Sam Allardyce is rewarded with a new contract or whether Gold and Sullivan will see fit to remove him from his post and look to new blood, only time will tell.

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