No more excuses left for West Ham’s gaffer

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Sam Allardyce (West Ham)There can’t be many of us who aren’t both surprised and pleased at the influx of players during the recently closed transfer window, and more importantly cautiously optimistic that a playing style change may be about to happen. It is clear that the type of player imported does not have that indelible stamp of a Sam Allardyce robot: 6’2, functional and unspectacular. There is an air of pace and trickery about the new intake with the emphasis more on creativity and forward momentum.

Mauro Zarate’s Premier League debut at Crystal Palace was impressive and gave a whole new dimension to the attack, and with smaller more mobile guys like Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia in the mix, there surely has to be a seismic shift in emphasis from the dull and tedious ethic of goal prevention at all costs (even at the cost of trying to win winnable games) to a mind set of goal creation and scoring.

Whilst Allardyce and the board have rightly been applauded in some quarters for their squad upgrade and enlargement policy, all will have been in vain if our uninspiring manager returns his to Kevin Nolan safety blanket which seems to comfort him like a child’s cuddly toy. The fact that the simply woeful Ricardo Vaz Te and the never improving Carlton Cole remain in place is bad enough, but a return to the plodding and predictable Kevin Nolan would send out all the wrong signals to both fans and players alike; can you imagine how a Zarate, Valencia, Poyet or Morrison would react to being dropped for our ageing goal-hanger?

The time for a style revolution is here and is long overdue. Sam Allardyce can no longer complain about lack of numbers, or cover, or ability, or pace, or quality. Alex Song from Barcelona knows how to pass a ball to death. Valencia has shone at World Cup level and already Cheikhou Kouyate has won us over with his quality and strength. Diego Poyet and Ravel Morrison (just check out the 4th goal West Ham scored against Ipswich Town on Thursday in a closed doors friendly at Upton Park) needs to be given game time with both providing the guile and un-coachable skill and ability on the ball that we have so badly lacked for so long.

With young and energetic full-backs in Aaron Cresswell and Carl Jenkinson, there is enough pace at the back to cover players going forward, and this has been the problem for me. Once West Ham get the ball, the mind set MUST be to build an attack and shift up a gear.  Forget defending; we are now in possession and the aim is to put THEM under pressure by deploying numbers and quickly! The speed with which we turn defence into attack is painfully slow and its this main reason that we barely trouble opposition defences, let alone the goalkeeper. We were given a clear, and painful, lesson by the Saints last week. The Southampton system of winning the ball high up the pitch, and at speed, followed by a pacey multi-player raid on the Hammers goal was a delight, and stood out in stark contrast to our bog-standard low-energy stroll. By the time the ball has hit the Hammers midfield, or heaven forbid the front man, our opponents have had more than enough time to file back, form up and present more defenders in well formed ranks than we are capable of outwitting. This pattern has been a clear feature of West Ham’s playing style for seasons and is so slow and predictable, one would have thought that any reasonably competent coach would have analysed the problem and taken steps to change things. Clearly not. We pose no threat going forward apart from the odd raid from the quick and tricky Stewart Downing. Any other forward movement is easily read, and even easier to counter. Two markers on Carlton Cole and it’s job done. We have no runners from deep, and no one who has the nous or will to get beyond the front man and cause some problems. Until such time as three or four players are in and around the box moving defenders around and creating spaces to explore then nothing will happen. That is a coaching fact.

Let’s hope that the signature West Ham move of passing along the back four from left to right, then right to left, then into midfield, then back to the centre half who then fires a long “fight-ball” to the outnumbered and incapable Cole is a relic of the past. It hasn’t worked; it won’t work, so why persist? With the clever, mobile and more dynamic players at Allardyce;s disposal, it’s time for some new thinking, some positive encouragement to new and fired-up players, and certainly time for the manager to let players play in an atmosphere of freedom and positivity once the ball is in claret & blue possession.

The players are in place, the fans are expectant, and it’s now time to show that the recent spending spree has a real intent and purpose behind it.  The fan base now demand a policy of attacking football that might just restore some belief to an oh so loyal support that is desperate for some glimpses of the past days when style, panache and quality ran through West Ham United from top to bottom.

This set of players could well be your get out of jail card Sam. Use them properly, give us what we want and for gods sake get rid of those heavy, rusty defensive chains that have crippled the club for way too long.

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Plaistow born Spencer is a lifelong Hammer and having spent half-a century plus, enduring this lifelong obsession, along with every other West Ham supporter, knows exactly what it takes and what it means to wrap that Claret & Blue scarf round your neck every other Saturday and head off for the Boleyn !

A Chartered Surveyor by profession, Spencer, now 58, has played, coached and managed at semi-pro level within Essex for a number of clubs, and, simply unable to give up playing, currently turns out for the Iron Maiden Over 35’s side when he is not watching the Hammers, playing guitar in his Classic Rock covers band Gunrunner, or more probably, injured yet again!


  • gezezer553 says:

    Very well written,signings this season show real intent – However big fat Sam is holding the players back,they are good players but are not given the freedom to express themselves.
    Players like cole,Collins,Nolan really shouldn’t still be at WESTHAM – hopefully the boys will push on because I strongly believe on paper we can finish top 8 at worse. COYI desperate need 3 PTS up next Hull and diame

    • John Tyler says:

      I agree with all that but would add VAZ TE and O’BRIEN to the list and bring in like for like replacements in January.
      If Sam doesn’t deliver then get BILIC to do the job.


  • Johnny Mac says:

    It’s not always the mangers fault you know. That display against Southampton was a classic example of a team captain needing to lift his team to the task at hand. No matter how much the boss coaches and drums a game plan into his team, it is ultimately the team on match day who have to do the job, and if they don’t well Sam’s depairing look on the touchline told it all eh? Sam now has the players to work with & I think so far he has got the starting 11 selections right. Zarate & Cole have been the correct striking choices & lets hope that Valencia & Song & others show signs in training of warranting a start. Only Sam & the squad during training sessions would know this prior to a game. Sam’s been around long enough to know how to pick a squad. He does need to get them through a recovery period and lift them. I have every confidence that he will do that!

  • philtheiron says:

    Although I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed in your article I believe it does gloss over a few facts.

    Namely when BS took over the club was on its knees, had no money and only 8 players on his first day of training! He then got us promoted and has kept us up ever since.

    Nothing new there. But the point is when you are in such a poor starting position short term experienced workhorses are required. Not young long term prospects.

    However, where BS and the board took their eye of the ball was not replacing these average players with younger better quality players. IMO this was due to concentrating too much on financial matters and the OS.

    All very well getting the financial side in order and the debts down but not at the expense of footballing matters.
    This I believe was a major factor in what was an absolutely desperate season last year.

    My other point and one that is often overlooked, is that when allowed time to develop his team BS has produced football with skilful players that got them into Europe.

    Now don’t get me wrong I’m not BS greatest fan as I have always thought his defensive qualities have always been at the expense of attack but he has been successful before and this is the first opportunity at the hammers he has had to really show what he can do.(?)
    I totally agree with you that BS is under no illusion that he must produce this year.(last season was unacceptable!) especially as he now has the signings to really make a mark on the prem.
    but despite everything I hope he is given the appropriate time to develop a wining style of play. The fans now expect! And there can be no excuses.
    If he now produces the football we all want and expect then all well and good. But if there is no improvement and we are as dire as ever then even BS most ardent supporter must realise it will be time for him to go.COYI!

    • garry says:

      Bs should of gone at the end of last season the new signings look good on paper but we needed a decent centre back ie micka richards would of been perfect . Bs been given 10 games to prove himself 4 games in and we’re out of the cup and lost two home games to average teams I hope his gone in 6 games it’s a waist of money watching us

  • John Tyler says:

    What I am finding strange is that VALENCIA is fit enough for his Country BUT NOT WEST HAM, WHY?
    Come on Sam give us the truth, he is a far ,far,better player than COLE, but then who isn’t.

    Give us a winning team or step aside and let us get BILIC.

    • garry says:

      Give moyes the job he proved at everton that given time we would get into europe

      • notanyoldiron says:

        Moyes had a bigger budget by far than us. Everyone thinks he achieved a regular high finish on a shoestring. He didn’t. But I agree he is a good manager. Never stood a chance at Manure.

  • The Cat says:

    Unfortunately no matter the quality of the written article and it’s content, the banner headline is ALWAYS going to attract Big Sam’s greatest detractors. It’s like a dog taking a poop on a hot summers day…….you got it flies!

    Maybe I’m missing something but since saving this club from near extinction, it’s the first time Big Sam has had a REAL transfer fund.
    Is he the manager and does he buy players??? Or does the chairmen (like Barca) go out & buys players so the manager has to play them??? Are ANY supporters around the country responsible for team tactics & what players come and go at their clubs???

    I for one am sick of all the whining and weekly (sometimes daily) straw polls on the managers position. It’s like your manager at work asking you to carry out a task and before you can complete the task that your doing, sacking you for not completing your tasks and people from other department within the same company slagging you off, despite you saving the business!

    At some point if people call themselves supporters, start doing that and support the club 100% or not at all. Whether these so called supporters are right OR wrong they are in the main anonymous and are NEVER held to account for foolish or wild predictions or claiming to have more football knowledge than a manager of over 23 years of football management and over 40 years in professional football. The man deserves a bit more respect than he’s been getting…..Period!

    IF he messes up, I’ll be the first to say “He had it coming!” but give the man & the club a chance, stop filling the internet with foolish bile and corrosiveness that makes us look like photo copies of that club we used to sneer at and take the Mickey out of……..Tottenham Hotspur. Not so funny now.

  • Bubs says:

    How long(the cat) do you give him his had 4 games already to change we have 3 points out of one cup and no changes,do we wait till the end of Nov or Dec then can’t find a good replacement what will it be then we stick with what weave got andy comes back to play along side Nolan we stay up by 1 or 2 points players leave because they can’t get playing time,going down should not be a problem with Burnley,Palace,West Brom,Hull ect around but the fans want to see us pushing Everton,Spurs and Swansea maybe even the FA cup .COY

  • Canchaz says:

    All very nice but I and quite a few others said all this days ago, not that we are that clever but because it is very obvious that Sam has nowhere to hide now and if he doesn’t use these new players after the owners spent all that money, they will have to give him the boot.

  • Ron says:

    Always amazed that.people like (the cat) and a previous writer cannot understand that offering positive criticism does not make you less of die-hard supporter. We all want our team to be successful but if that means accepting some of the failings we have seen over the past 3 years in terms of a defensive and sterile tactics,poor team selection and utter disregard for a style that epitomised the West Ham Academy play and for which we were renowned. Financial restrictions prevented us from joining the top echelon but we always punched above our weight and win or lose we entertained our supporters. As a supporter of 80 years standing I can’t recall such disaffection as is apparent today. This manager brought in players that clearly we’re not good enough and most are still with us today. Do I have to mention Vaz Te,Nolan ,O’Brien,Taylor all Bolton rejects. If he selects players who are not capable of performing to his standards then the solution is obvious. I feel for Carlton Cole playing as a lone striker as even the best players struggle in that position in the modern game and Carlton is now way past his best. We can still be loyal to the club and the team selected but let’s not accept second best as acceptable. That to me is being caring,committed and true supporter.

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