For quite some time, many Hammers fans have been calling for Sam Allardyce to be axed, but co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold have continuously showed their support for the man they appointed in 2011. Sullivan and Gold even wrote an open letter which was published on the club’s website, which demonstrated their trust and support for Allardyce.
I originally thought that he should have been sacked after the 2-1 defeat at Fulham on New Year’s Day. The sending off of Kevin Nolan just before half time may have cost West Ham the game, but that was a big opportunity to claim three points at one of our relegation rivals. The 5-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest was simply not good enough. Allardyce said that the owners had been told in advance that the majority of the side would be youngsters.
Big Sam said that he did not want to risk any of the first team squad, as he did not want more injuries to occur. He also said that the semifinal first leg of the Capital One Cup at Manchester City was of more importance than the FA Cup third round tie. Surely the Hammers should have played their first team at the City Ground rather than at the Etihad Stadium? Manchester City have humiliated most teams that have travelled to the blue half of Manchester, and so it was likely that Manuel Pellegrini’s side were going to take a first leg victory into the second leg. At least at the Championship club, West Ham would have had a good chance of advancing to the fourth round of the FA Cup.
The likes of Joey O’Brien, Guy Demel, George McCartney, Matt Taylor, Mo Diame, Joe Cole and Carlton Cole were all not included in the squad despite being injury-free. Instead, Allardyce decided to include them in the side against Manchester City and they simply didn’t turn up. Only Adrian, who also started between the sticks at Nottingham Forest, had a decent game in the 6-0 drubbing at the Etihad Stadium. The stopper, who joined from Real Betis in the summer, made four top class saves during the match, with the first half tip around the post from a Samir Nasri effort being the pick of the bunch.
Conceding eleven goals in two games is a terrible record, and Allardyce should, ultimately, have been sacked after such humiliating defeats. Although the loss at Forest was expected due to the starting line-up Allardyce selected, no-one felt the Hammers would lose by such a large margin. The Daily Telegraph sports correspondent Matt Law said that the match could have put the youngsters’ confidence and progress back a year and he may be right.
Such changes for that game weren’t particularly necessary and he could have at least played some of the fit first-team players, even if he decided to bring them off at some stage in the game if West Ham went behind. His comments after the game, where he said that ‘they were just kids that weren’t ready’ will hardly have done their confidence any good.
After the City mauling, Allardyce once again used the injuries excuse. Considering he is the 13th highest paid manager in the world and it would cost between £4m and £5m to sack him, you would be forgiven to expect more from the man in charge. On Football Focus, Martin Keown made a good point. If Allardyce is supposedly ten years ahead of everyone else in terms of psychology and sports science, then why are so many players getting injured?
The all-important win at Cardiff City may have bought Allardyce some time, but another significant defeat like those at Forest and City could finally push the co-owners to relieve the former Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers manager of his duties.