The chairman have made it clear that when it comes to renewing Allardyce’s contract, they are waiting until the end of the season – which is absolutely the right thing to do. At this point, speculation is rife that West Ham are already lining up potential replacements for Allardyce, and it seems increasingly likely he will not be with us for any great length of time.
Many will rejoice at this news, but truthfully – I’m just not in the Allardyce out club. I’m sorry, but I appreciate what he’s done for our club – even if a lot of it hasn’t been pretty – and here’s why.
In my opinion, he’s done everything he’s been asked to do for West Ham United.
When Sam was brought in to manage West Ham in June 2011, West Ham had just been rather soundly relegated. Sam’s brief was simple; get the club back in the Premier League as quickly as possibly. In this, Sam was successful. West Ham finished third in the Championship in their first year – just a mere two points behind Southampton – and were promoted back to the Premier League after an electric play-off final at Wembley.
Our first and second years after returning to the Premier League were bound to be a tricky ones, but the objective set out to Sam was to ensure we stayed in the Premier League – and we did just that. In our first year we finished an enjoyable tenth place; in our tricky second season, we struggled with relegation and managed to finish 13th. Again, mission completed – even if some of the football we saw was absolutely awful.
This season, Sam was told to begin our European push and play more attractive football. Crucially, this season, he was actually given some money to achieve that goal. At the time of writing we are seven points off of a Champions League position, having spent most of the first half of the season in a Champions League place. Sure, some games weren’t fun viewing, but were you really not entertained watching us beat Manchester City and Liverpool at home, and watching us so nearly pull one over on Arsenal, and willing nine men to keep Southampton to a goalless draw?
Look, I too wanted to do the double this year; I really did – but I’m of the persuasion that Rome was not built in a day, and I’m not expecting overnight success for West Ham United. We are not the Arsenal invincibles team; we are going to lose games this season – and some of them will be such bitter pills to swallow.
The West Brom one was awful, but that one game is not a summary of a season that has us sitting in 8th place with a lovely goal difference from the team below us. In fact, that game is (at the time of writing, and please don’t let this come back to me come today) the only time this season we’ve lost by more than two goals. We have only even lost three total games this season by two goals (in games against Southampton, Chelsea, and Liverpool – all teams who are above us in the table right now.) This is an improvement on last year, on the years previous – this is progress – and I thank Sam Allardyce for that.
I am also very aware that my opinion is not a popular one – and I think that’s a shame, but understand why he splits opinion so vastly. Sam does himself no favours at times – it’s not a Sam article if I don’t mention Kevin Nolan, is it – and I believe that his team selection does often cause massive rifts in the relationship between himself and the fans (and the Sullivans.) His refusal to play Mauro Zarate was also a strong bone of contention— although Zarate’s subsequent lack of fitness at QPR (he’s played just 59 league minutes total for the relegation-threated side since his loan move) may lead to some credibility towards Sam’s decision.
I would not be surprised to see Allardyce leave at the end of the season – it does seem as if relations are not great between him and the chairman and certainly many of the fans— but I will be applauding him when he leaves, and will be grateful for the growth the team have made under his management.
We are on the cusp of big things, and it’s okay if we don’t win the league this year provided we are building towards properly fighting for it in a few years time— and this is something I genuinely believe we are doing.