Since Sam Allardyce took over the reigns at Upton Park just over 2 years ago, the dynamics of the squad has changed; experienced players have come into the team, with youth players being loaned out for first team experience, the players have more of a physical edge, especially at the back and the players are fitter, reducing the likelihood of us conceding in the last few minutes of a game.
Sam’s master plan to secure Premier League football when the club moves to the Olympic Stadium involves developing not only players’ technical abilities, but also their physical stature. This doesn’t just mean players built like a tank, but players with a large fuel tank so that they can keep on going to the final whistle.
Football is a game where the smallest of margins can decide things between teams. The margins have become so small, that goal line technology has been introduced. It shows how close teams can be if a team is relegated or promoted due to a goal not being given when it should have been.
Allardyce’s attention to detail is something which often goes amiss. His meticulous approach to matches and the care he takes in preparing his teams is often overshadowed by the style he is wrongly associated with playing. He is a manager who has developed his tactical awareness while at West Ham, in part due pressure from the fans, but also because the game has changed. Defenders are more capable of building from the back and full-backs are pushing higher up. Football has become more expansive and expressive. Credit to Sam, he has adjusted his game, but what he has kept is his belief in the science behind football.
Allardyce has embraced sports science throughout his managerial career. He brought in Lee Richardson when he joined the Hammers who is an established sports psychologist. Richardson has gone from being a player, to coaching and management before gaining a degree in sports psychology.
Allardyce in his opening interview said “My real ingredient for success was to marry the academic to the practical.” Allardyce likes to give duties to experts in their particular fields. He doesn’t do the medical side of the club, so why should he do the fitness side? He is like the conductor of a very technical orchestra, all playing test tubes or something…
Over the next few months I will be delving into the science behind football, from the psychological approach to a big game, to what the Hammers players eat after a workout. I will be giving you an insight into Sam’s big plans to take the Hammers to the top of English football.