The new Premier League season hasn’t started yet but already it seems as though the knives are out for Sam Allardyce.
A poor pre-season, that included embarrassing defeats to Wellington Pheonix and Sydney FC on the other side of the world, has added fuel to the fire of those who want to see the former Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn boss sent packing back up the M6. In many ways Allardyce’s association with the Hammers has always been a marriage of convince. The club turned to him, the antithesis of the passing game West Ham have long been associated with, at their darkest hour.
Until this point the marriage has lasted because results on the pitch persuaded the pragmatic majority of West Ham’s fans to accept the end justified the means. However, with results on the field failing to live up to the benchmark set in the 2012-13 season, it was clear the voices of dissent were growing louder
Crucially they were not just coming not just from the section of the support who had always been anti-Sam, but also from those who’d been, in the past, prepared to give Sam the benefit of the doubt. The media were convinced Allardyce was on borrowed time and it was widely expected he would lose his job at the end of the season.
But after being humiliatingly summoned to ‘crunch talks’ with David Sullivan and David Gold at the end of the last campaign it was announced that the manager would be allowed to keep his job after promising more entertaining football. So why did the board stand by their Sam?
I think the best way of explaining the board’s loyalty is to look at the situation from a workplace point of view. Say you’d been given by your manager at your appraisal three objectives to achieve and you achieved them.
How outraged would you be if your manager turned round to you and said: ‘yep, you reached you sales targets, you introduced the new system we asked you to but we’re going to let you go because the way you reached those targets were rather mundane, and the system you introduced, well it was just simply functional wasn’t it, nothing we can get excited about?’
You’d probably be furious and you may well take your company to an industrial tribunal and probably win a case of unfair dismissal. Indeed, could you fire someone for achieving the objectives you gave them? However, you certainly could express your disapproval in some of the methods used to achieve those objectives, and there would be nothing to stop you introducing new objectives.
The owners have done this with Allardyce. It remains to be seen whether Big Sam can secure a top 10 finish this season, and whether he can do it in a style that is far easier on the eye. But his record at West Ham means he deserved a chance to.