You’re at the pub one evening and as you stroll up to the bar, you notice the unmistakeable figure of Sam Allardyce himself sitting on a stool with his sixth pint in hand. Now’s your chance to ask him some real questions off the record, with which he can be completely open without the fear of it covering the back-page of The Sun the following day. Here are ten suggestions…
- What do you really make of the West Ham fans?
There is still very much a strong group of vocal fans who reject Allardyce as our boss because of his ‘long-ball’, physical tactics and incompatibility with playing ‘the West Ham way’, so it would be interesting to hear if the fact that he has not been fully accepted affects Allardyce. Additionally, his team have performed better away from home and have been subject to boos at Upton Park on more than one occasion; so does Allardyce see the fans as a ‘claret and blue army’, or a thorn in his side who continually criticise him and create a hostile atmosphere for his team?
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- Was it a difficult decision to join West Ham?
There’s no doubt that the Hammers are a sizeable club and provided a great opportunity for Allardyce, but was he concerned about the pressure which would be placed on him to catapult them back into the Premier League at the first time of asking? Also, was he a little bitter about not being chosen to replace Avram Grant in January of last year, having been overlooked whilst Martin O’Neill was available?
- How is it working with David Sullivan, David Gold and Karren Brady?
We’re sure that Allardyce would’ve been a little sceptical about working with these three after their regular media outbursts prior to his arrival, however it seems that they have toned things down since he joined, suggesting that this was a request when he signed his contract. So how has it been ever since? Are they good to deal with in terms of transfers and have there been any disagreements?
- Who’s our best player?
It would be interesting to hear from Allardyce, who has been a manager since 1991 and watches the players in training every day, who he genuinely believes is our best player. There is certainly a strong affinity between him and Kevin Nolan but it’s probable that he would go for someone else; perhaps Abdoulaye Faye, James Tomkins or Mark Noble? Or could it be a shock candidate?
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- Did you think Carlton Cole would be better than he is?
When Allardyce signed for West Ham, he was probably rubbing his hands together at the prospect of a 6’ 3”, 12st 3lb, England international striker at his disposal in the second tier of English football who would seemingly fit in perfectly with Allardyce’s system which regularly features a target-man. However, although he has scored a few goals, he has failed to set the world alight, so do you think Allardyce is a little disappointed by him?
- What do you see in Jack Collison?
Collison started his West Ham career with a string of impressive performances which suggested he had great potential. However, since a long-term injury, he has had a tendency to appear rather ineffectual in games and often pulls out of challenges. Despite seemingly offering little to nothing, Allardyce consistently chooses him, so what do you see in him Sam and how far do you realistically think he can go?
- Do you have concerns about Ravel Morrison’s personality?
It seems that Morrison is a highly-regarded young player with enormous potential, and that is certainly why Allardyce decided to sign him. But it would be interesting to hear if this was a difficult decision due to concerns about his previous convictions and whether Allardyce feared he could unsettle the camp. Also, how long until we see him in the first-team?
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- How far can Mark Noble go?
We have all been impressed with Noble this season and he definitely holds a place in our hearts with regards to his commitment to West Ham United, but it would be interesting to listen to someone who has been involved in the game for as long as Allardyce talk about how good he really thinks Noble is. The England national team is a long way off as it currently stands, but could it ever happen for Noble?
- Have you had any disappointing transfer failings since your time at West Ham?
We’re all aware that West Ham made enquiries about Carlos Tevez and Fernando Torres in January; however I think it’s fair to say that these were always cheeky, unrealistic ventures which were never expected to come off. But has there been anyone who Allardyce hasn’t managed to get who he expected to and wanted to improve our squad? El-Hadji Diouf may have been frustratingly blocked due to fan-power, but is there anyone else he has missed out on and who does he blame for the move not coming to fruition?
- How far do you believe you can take West Ham?
Allardyce has always been confident in his own ability, previously declaring “I would be suited to Inter or Real Madrid”, so how far does he really think he can take West Ham and how long does he plan to stay? We know that he is ambitious and we saw him take Bolton into Europe, so does he see that as the aim at West Ham, and is he excited about our future under him? Could this be the job which makes him a managerial icon?
It would certainly make for an interesting chat, but it’s unlikely that we will ever know the answers to these questions whilst he remains at the helm of the club. But keep them in mind just in case you bump into the big man after a few too many one night. His answers could lead him to develop a much better connection with the West Ham faithful, or alternatively alienate him further in an already strained relationship.
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