The second he saw the red card produced to reduce Spurs to 10 men was the moment any enlightened and positive manager would get an additional front man on to both help the struggling Carlton Cole (how much can one lone striker do for gods sake? Let alone an average grafter like Carlton) and secondly to pin a decidedly average Tottenham Hotspur on the back foot and make West Ham’s attacking intentions clear. Any team reduced to ten has to deal with the psychological blow that has just been dealt. To then watch the numerically advantaged side pile on the pressure by pushing both attack and midfield further up the pitch in order to pressurise and out-pass a nervy opposition is all part of the plan; but Sam Allardyce has no plan. He never has any plan other than the one he starts the game with…and invariably finishes the game with.
His inaction and total lack of any counter-tactical appreciation is so obvious and stark that people really need to wake up and see the man for what he is; an imposter who talks the talk but has no idea how to walk the walk. His smoke and mirrors illusions make David Blaine look like Tommy Cooper on a bad day. Allardyce will rabbit on all day about sports science, kilometres run, tackles made and all other manner of statistical buffoonery, but come the moment when the simple decision to stick two up front and push the midfield higher on to a struggling Spurs needs to be made, we get…..nothing. It is now beyond puzzling; we almost need to be peddling conspiracy theories!
What were the other coaches saying or thinking? Are they on the bench for any reason? Do they interact with Allardyce, voice opinions, make suggestions? Was Teddy Sheringham, seated a few rows behind the manager consulted at any stage? This, by the way, is a clever, wily, thoughtful and attack minded individual, and a man employed solely to boost and coach the attacking phase of West Hams play.
Let’s be clear. West Ham played better on Saturday than perhaps we have seen for some time. Stewart Downing was excellent, Mark Noble was his usual imperious self, running the show from deep, and the impressive workhorse Cheikhou Kouyate looked strong and willing. Add in the impressive home debut from Aaron Cresswell and we had the basis of a performance. How Cole, the awful Ricardo Vaz Te and the invisible man (AKA Nolan) could make their starting line-up, however, just defied belief, and here lies another worry; what the hell can Allardyce see in Nolan and Vaz Te and Cole that the rest of us can’t? These players are now Championship level at best, so to start a match three players down is a managerial fail, yet despite the handicap, we gave as good as we got and were unlucky not to take a lead by one or two goals. The unusual penalty miss by Mark Noble shouldn’t have counted in the final analysis, and had we spent most of the game in the Tottenham third/half laying siege to their goal, the James Collins second yellow would probably never happened. You reap what you sow as the old saying goes.
However, once the numbers were in our favour, the Tottenham jugular was exposed, vulnerable, and there to be grabbed like a rabid wolf on a deer, and shaken until the final whistle; it wasn’t because our manager had neither the will nor the guile to make any changes. Oh, sorry, I forgot the excellent tactical masterpiece and game changer: Demel for O’Brien. Full back for …eerr…full back.
Allardyce ALLOWED Tottenham and their disbelieving fans to leave E13 on Saturday night all clutching their “Get out of Jail FREE” cards and laughing well into the night…and beyond. He let us down badly because he cannot comprehend that at times, attack is the best form of defence. He clearly has no faith in West Ham as a solid and cohesive attacking force, despite spending decent money on some proven goal scorers, and until things change in terms of personnel, and principles of play, we will be saying the same things for the foreseeable future.
It’s one game in and early days, but I cant help but feel three points were not so much lost as handed in a gift wrapped, ribboned box and labelled “To Spurs. Love West Ham.” That hurts.