Mounting speculation in recent weeks has been placed the future of current West Ham manager, Sam Allardyce as his contract runs out in the summer. With no known negotiations taken place about a new contract, it raises the question as to whether West Ham should offer Big Sam an extension on his current deal. Opinions are divided amongst West Ham fans, with many arguing that he has achieved everything that has been asked of him, providing West Ham retains their Premiership status by the end of this season.
Allardyce has bought stability to the club that was completely dysfunctional when he took over and seems to have a squad that have a togetherness that has achieved some impressive displays this season, notably the draw to Manchester City at home and the second half comeback against Chelsea. Achieving promotion from the Championship in the first season, on paper it almost seems ridiculous that Big Sam wouldn’t be offered a new deal, however the issues that surround his criticisms are enough for some people to question if he is the right man to lead West Ham into the Olympic Stadium and the future.
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First, it has to be noted that Allardyce has never has the best relationship with the fans, his criticism that we, as a collective, have too high standards and we don’t understand the logistics of winning a football match. The response from the fans has always been to never sing his name, it’s always ‘we are West Ham’s claret and blue army’, never ‘Big Sam’s’. The trigger to this broken relationship is the style of football, the long ball tactic, that has been claimed not to be ‘the West Ham way’. Historically associated with they type of football played by the greats of the club such as Trevor Brooking, Tony Cottee and Paolo Di Canio, it’s hard to see this type of player emerging from one of Allardyce’s teams. With other midtable competition playing this type of football such as Swansea City, these frustrations can be understood, although many would argue that as long we keep getting results and stay in the league they’re not bothered by how we play our football. Secondly, it has become apparent that Allardyce seems to have players that he prefers, which is fine, but could be detrimental to the productivity of the team. There are two particular examples that this can be pinned too in Kevin ‘Captain Fantastic’ and Joey O’Brien’.
Firstly, Super Kev has come into the squad on a five year contract on high wages due to Big Sam’s ‘brilliance’, however his performances have somewhat dropped below the standard we may expect from our ‘leader’ not only this season, but arguably last season. In games this season, we’ve seen the influence of Noble and Diame dominating the midfield area, with Nolan nowhere to be seen. Having signed the captain of the French national football team at Euro 2012 and his timely return from injury, it would have been logical for Alou Diarra to get his chance to shine in a West Ham shirt. Of course, this was not the case as Diarra is now loaned out back to France with the midfielder accusing Allardyce of ‘broken promises’. Known as good friends outside of football, Allardyce’s commitment to knowing when to rest or drop players can be called into question.
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In January, it was announced that full back O’Brien had signed a new three-year contract. Having signed the injury prone defender on a free following a trail, Allardyce believes O’Brien has enough quality to be involved in the first team for another three more years. Having only made 50 appearances for Bolton in 7 years and a handful of impressive performances in the Championship last season, this decision is surprising. Compared to defesice counterpart, Guy Demel, O’Brien is slower, weaker and less composed on the ball to the Ivorian, who is five years his senior and his contract runs out at the end of the 2014 season.
Other notable examples would be Jussi Jääskeläinen, another player from Alladyce’s former club Bolton, with his performance’s now being deemed not good enough and more bizarrely, Ricardo Gardner, who is currently on trail at the club for some strange season after he was released from Bolton at the end of the 2010-2011 season.
The chairmen have to make a decision based on what they want for the club going forward. The important thing that has to be considered the most is there the right man to come into the job and do it better then Big Sam.
There are clear problems with Alladyce’s management of the team but he does provide that stability and does often get the best out of his players such as Noble and Reid.
From a fan’s perspective, if the owner’s decided to offer him a new contract we know we will a stable direct squad of players that will work hard, similar to what we got use to under Alan Curbishley or if we hire a new upcoming manager, there may a new sense of excitement and it would be a appointment that would most likely look to secure more attractive football as we prepare for life inside the Olympic stadium under a manger such as recent rumours like Gus Poyet or, dare I say it, Paolo Di Canio.
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