As we begin our charge to the Play-offs the resentment towards Allardyce and his tactics appears to be growing on a daily basis. I think we would all agree that this season has been a flop? With a Premiership standard squad and the inconsistency of all but two Championship challengers, the league SHOULD have been won weeks ago.
I have looked back at where it all went wrong and am not ashamed to admit that Allardyce is at the heart of it. Below are the five mistakes that single handedly ruined our season;
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1) Long Ball Insistence – I’m not one of the very many Hammers who believe in the ‘West Ham Way’. I fully agree with Allardyce that the West Ham Way is losing football matches in a cloud of mediocrity while achieving nothing. I also understand Allardyce’s insistence on going direct to win football matches. He did it successfully with Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers, achieving European football in the process. The mistake made, was that this type of tactic cannot be used week in, week out and is easy to defend against unless you have the strongest and best target man in the league to hold up and win headers. We don’t. It proved in the Birmingham home draw recently that if you switch from passing to direct quickly you can score goals, pen the team back and exert pressure but if they are expecting it they will park the proverbial bus and swat us away like flies. It is an ABSOLUTE MUST that a team challenging for a title has a plan B. Throughout the season there has been no plan B.
2) The Wrong Personnel – Our owners were fantastic in backing Allardyce both before the season and during the January window. Allardyce showed them his targets, they succeeded in obtaining the signatures. The question I ask is, were they the right signings? With such a direct nature in style, why did we sign pacey strikers who like the ball to feet and get in behind the back four such as Baldock and Maynard? With Jason Roberts available on a free and scoring vital goals, surely he was a better target man (literally)? Carew showed that signing players at the end of their career HAS to stop if we are to progress but more on that in a minute. Instead of buying four strikers, why were we not in the market for quick midfielders/wingers who can actually get to the by line, beat a man and deliver into the box? Allardyce appears to be signing the same players repeatedly which just backs up the claims of no plan B. Variety is the spice of life and our squad has none.
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3) Lack of Youth – Rob Hall, Cristian Montano, Dan Potts, George Moncur, Jordan Spence and Frank Nouble and dare I say the name Ravel Morrison?? If ever there was a chance to bring through the next Frank Lampard or Joe Cole a season in the Championship was the time to do it. I am in agreement with those who would tell me you must have experience but surely there has to be a blend of the two? The youth, excitement, creativity, commitment and fitness has been lacking all season. We have a youth team of stars waiting for their opportunity to shine, why have we kept with the journeymen who have nothing to prove or play for? John Carew, Gary O’Neil, Matty Taylor, Danny Collins, Abdoulaye Faye or Julien Faubert would all leave in a heartbeat if offered more money or Premiership football. Southampton were promoted from League One last season, did they panic buy Stoke or Bolton’s cast offs? No. They had faith in their young players, players who showed they would die for the shirt. The excitement as Sky Sports News informed us of Ravel Morrison’s signature was clear to see across the Social Media circles. This is a player who Paul Scholes quoted “Is the best talent to come from the United youth set up since Ryan Giggs“. We all knew he came with baggage, but ask Maradonna’s managers if that worried them?? Where is he and why has he not been included when the team was CRYING out for creativity?
4) A Starting XI – Championship facts to date tell us that Reading and Southampton have made fewer changes to their starting XI than all but two teams in the league. Week in week out the players know exactly who is playing, what the tactics are and how to play to their strengths. Allardyce has shown how clueless he has been with regards to his squad and although we have had injuries all season, there has not been a consistent spine to the team. Our best player in James Tomkins has been used at right back, centre back (best and only position) holding midfielder and centre midfielder. Carlton Cole has been used as a target man, a secondary striker, on his own or with one of MANY strike partners. Faubert has been on the bench, then up front, then wide right then right back… You get the point. The best managers keep it simple. They build a first XI, playing each player to their strengths and stick with it to create consistency and confidence. The fans have been on Carlton Cole’s back all season (In some instances it has been justified) but do you blame the guy? This guy was in the England set up last year with an impressive debut, this season he has been in and out the team more than anyone! Does Brian McDermott rest Ian Harte every other week because he passed 30 years old? No, he plays him every week because he is the best left back at the club. As a result, Ian Harte scores goals and consistently provides an attacking threat for the team. He is one of many examples….
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5) Bad Attitude – Sam is known for his “No Nonsense” attitude and I have to admit I have always respected him for it. In his own words, he has a “thick skin” and will not listen to the negativity thrown at him by anyone. The issue this season is that you MUST back up a strong front with results. The above points have shown that he has continuously made mistakes all season. Our current position in the league shows that his way has not worked. Instead of insulting the fans with accusations of being “Thick” and “Deluded” a quality manager and motivator will use the media to the advantage of the team and ultimately get the fans onside. You may not care what we think of you Allardyce but it is us who pay your wages and ultimately provide the atmosphere on a match day at the Boleyn. Is it a coincidence that we have struggled at home all season and there has been a growing discontent towards the manager? Do you think Jose Mourinho or Sir Alex Ferguson would throw insults at their own fans? They would spin it like all good motivators would. They would ensure the fans left the televised or paper interview with renewed optimism that we were all working towards the same goal. When the fans turn on you, the writing’s on the wall.
With all of this being said, we still have a chance of promotion through the players and I for one will be behind the team as normal come rain or shine. For those of you using the “IT’s a tough league to get out of” excuse ask yourself the following question;
“If it is SUCH a tough league, how have we got it wrong, continued to make mistakes and still have a very good chance of Premier League football next season?”
Think Richard’s analysis is harsh? Then pop over to his blog and let him know http://www.claretsweatandtears.co.uk/home/2012/04/19/5-mistakes-that-ruined-our-chances/