Sam Allardyce is, for better or worse, going to be West Ham’s manager for the foreseeable future. The price tag attached to terminating his contract is one which we can’t afford and investing the sum in the squad is seen as a wiser use of funds by the club’s ownership.
So where do we go from here is surely the question on every supporters mind. The campaign has been dire thus far. All our glory has come outside the league, and as momentous as those occasions have been it’s been merely a slight distraction to just how poor the league form has been.
Last year at this time many supporters were calling for Allardyce to be sacked. This website advised that he was the man for the job and we needed to get behind him. We suggested looking back at our relegation season under Avram Grant and comparing the figures.
We won’t be doing that this year. While we contend Sam is the man to steer us clear of relegation, it seems obvious that he needs to go in the summer. The squad he’s assembled simply isn’t good enough.
It’s not that we’re lacking in top level players, it’s that the depth of the squad falls off quickly after you get through our starting eleven. No one can realistically blame all the injuries on Allardyce, but they certainly can blame the poor squad on him.
He’s been content with stocking the squad with a number of former Bolton players, players which he is obviously comfortable with and who understand his playing style. But this cronyism has done little to benefit the club.
Case in point: Kevin Nolan. After his shocking lash out during the Fulham match, he should surely be dropped and stripped of the armband. While it may sound harsh, we feel it’s the only way to move forward.
When your captain and right hand man makes such a stupid decision in a match of such importance, you need to send a message. Nolan has had a poor run of form all season, but if he’s available he’s put in the squad.
When you no longer feel like you need to earn your place, your level of commitment is sure to falter. If a squad is not built around meritocracy then what hope does it give to those on the outside looking in? Surely none.
So the first place to start in turning things around is dropping Nolan and stripping him of the captain’s armband. The likelihood of this occurring? Very remote. But if it does it would serve to send a massive message. No one’s place is safe, and if you aren’t prepared to earn it on the pitch then you’ll be gone.
Our biggest failure all season was not signing a reliable second striker, someone to carry the load while Andy Carroll was out injured.
We needed one in August, when it looked like him playing by September was a certainty. The extent to which we’ve needed one during the entire first half of the season doesn’t need stressing.
Our biggest obstacle in the process seems to be a statement that came out in July, David Gold stating that Carroll was always going to be first choice when healthy. What kind of striker were we going to get then?
This site can’t claim to speak for every supporter, but does anyone really want to sign a striker whose okay with being second choice? A defeatist attitude generally isn’t conductive to being a solid striker. But that’s what we were left looking for.
The club needs to make it clear that the number one spot is yours to take. If you can bang ‘em in, you’re going to be first choice and Andy will have to wait his turn.
They’ll be reluctant to take this attitude, given the price tag attached to Carroll, but once again the point is to win and survive this relegation battle. Momentum is everything, and if you land a striker who’s scoring regularly you cannot interrupt that.
Johnny Heitinga was more or less announced as the club’s first major signing of the transfer window on the eve of the Fulham match, only to turn us down. This only serves to prove the point regarding Sam’s selection process.
Heitinga has yet to play a league game all season for Everton. At 30 he desperately wants to earn back his spot in the Holland squad for the World Cup. He sees leaving as the only option to do so.
And he turned down the chance to move to West Ham. Why? It has to because he knows he won’t be playing, regardless of effort and performance, as soon as any two of James Collins, James Tomkins or Winston Reid is healthy.
Now it’s very unlikely he’s been told as much by the club. But the writing is on the wall. Sam has selected his squads in the same manner for years. That must change if we are to survive.
For what seems like such a massive problem, it’s our view that it comes down to the one thing we’ve outlined. It’s easy to lose the drive, desire and commitment required to win when you don’t have to fight for a place. If you can put the hunger back in the squad, the results would be immense.
There is obviously the other problem the squad is faced with. Our injury list is very nearly a starting 11 at this point. But it is spilt milk at this point. Nothing can be done past making due. Perhaps it’s time some of the graduates of our famed Academy of Football are given the chance to shine. An opportunity like this will rarely, if ever, present itself.
Sam can see us out of this mess. As bad as it seems at this point, hope is not lost. If the squad is reinforced enough to see us through this spell of injuries there is light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s not the right time to get rid of Allardyce, but it is the right time for a change in attitude. We can start over in the summer, but we can’t afford to do it in the Championship.
Let’s get behind Allardyce and the squad. Let’s make Upton Park a fortress. Let’s make it clear that if we are to go down, we do so fighting.