Big Sam has gotten us off to a flying start this season. We’ve enjoyed pleasing pre-season results, and we’ve seen some exciting new players this summer- both new purchases (Razvan Rat and Stewart Downing) and also younger players poised to make good for us (Ravel Morrison and Sebastian Lletget.) We’ve got the strongest midfield and squad depth in midfield that we’ve had in years- and we eased to a fairly comfortable win against Premier League newbies Cardiff City.
It’s all coming up roses for Allardyce – and deservedly so. Given the strong progression we’ve made under him over the past two years, has he finally won over all of the Upton Park faithful?
Initial reaction to Sam’s appointment back in June 2011 wasn’t all positive (to say the least), and there was a lot of concern about his style of play- a style of play that has now certainly served us well. I think, and hope, that fans are aware of how much he’s done for our team since he joined us, and how we have improved in leaps and bounds since he’s been our manager.
The Cardiff game on Saturday was a great point of relevance for looking at just how far we’ve come. Compare us this year to us playing Cardiff on our opening game (and his first league game in charge) two seasons ago in 2011 – a game played in the Championship, which we lost 0-1. He inherited a recently relegated team who had not managed a league win since March 5th of the previous season.
Since then he’s managed to get us promoted, steer us to a top ten place in the Premier League, and break our record transfer amount twice. Last Saturday we kicked off with four of the same starters as we did two years ago – Winston Reid, Joey O’Brien, Kevin Nolan, and Mark Noble—and I think we can all agree that although all four of them have enjoyed good results in the last two years, the improvement that Allardyce has gotten out of Winston Reid has been exceptional.
He’s also made some good signings for the club – Andy Carroll, Matt Jarvis, Mohamed Diame, Jussi Jaaskelainen, Kevin Nolan—and some wise re-signings in Joe Cole, James Collins, and George McCartney (if only he wasn’t injured!)
Our attendance has also increased since he’s been at the club. Our average attendance in 2011-2012 was 30,923 and in 2012-2013 it was 34,719 (worldfootball.net) with more sell-outs than not. Say what you will about our style of play –more people are coming through the gates now that Allardyce is here and we are playing football that people want to see (in the Premier League.)
We owe a lot to the ‘Davids’ for how our club progressed, but we also owe Allardyce a lot for how far he’s taken us over two years. I wasn’t sure at the start, but I’m now very glad we’ve got Big Sam at the helm and am optimistic about where we go from here.
Has he won everyone over? Well, I’m sure there are a few dissenters still, but he’s certainly won me over– and I have a sneaky feeling that if we’re not all singing his praises now, then by the end of this promising season, we will be.