Let me apologize for using a phrase that has become a dull echo over the last couple of months. It’s certainly been a phrase said with more regularity than anything else by West Ham supporters over the course of this season.
There was murmurs of it all throughout last season as well, but a relatively uneventful first campaign back in the Premiership did much to silence the critics. This campaign has, if anything, proven that Sam Allardyce is not the man to take the club forward.
The key word in that statement is “forward”. It would seem, looking at the stats throughout his career and especially as a manager in the top flight, that he is more than capable of keeping a club in the Premier League. For some cash starved clubs, and prestige lacking supporters, that is all they hope for.
But it’s been made very clear West Ham United supporters want something more. An attractive playing style, more akin to the vaunted “West Ham Way”.
Allardyce caused waves upon his appointment, given that the style of play he utilizes is just about the exact opposite of the style West Ham as a club has promoted for so long.
He went even further when he criticized that style and laid the blame for relegation partly at it’s feet. Not exactly the way to go about endearing yourself to your new clubs supporters.
But I, along with many other supporters, could grin and bear it to get back into the Premiership. There was no doubts over Big Sam’s ability to achieve such a task, and he admittedly did a great job assembling a squad that were up to it.
Automatic promotion would have obviously been the preference, but as the saying goes beggars can’t be choosers. Victory in a tightly contested Playoff Final, with Blackpool looking the better side throughout, meant job done for Sam. He’d achieved what was expected.
The first season back, history has shown, is all too often a troubled one. It’s no big surprise to end up relegated once more. Sam offered the stability to establish the club back in the Premier League and it has to be said, did so admirably in achieving a 10th place finish. No one can fault him for that.
But this season has been a different story. It’s hard to ignore defeating Spurs twice in one season, especially the derby demolition in October. It’s also hard to ignore dire performances, like the most recent win against Hull, regardless of the outcome.
The ownership was right to stick by Sam in January. The decision whether to keep or rid yourself of a manager when in a relegation battle is often a 50/50 proposition. I never had any doubt in his ability to keep the club up.
The truth is the man knows how to collect points, often times through brutal attrition. A win is a win after all, so what does it matter how it happens? That’s just the thing though, to West Ham supporters it does matter.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Sam could keep us playing in the Premier League for the foreseeable future. He knows exactly the type of squads to build to ensure survival. But we should no longer just hope for survival.
Expecting the bare minimum out of anything in life is a dull and uninteresting choice. So while many of the words previously read may lead you to believe Sam is a perfectly acceptable choice as manager, to me the choice is clear: Sam Out.
Now I’ve got to admit, I’ve grown tired of hearing the statement. It’s all to easy to be a completely uninformed mong, parroting what you hear everyone else saying. I do honestly believe many fans who are echoing the statement have no real thoughts themselves on why he should go, and instead go by what others are saying.
That’s a situation good to no one, producing a hostile environment around the club without a real appreciation in relation to why the club should actually part ways with Sam in the summer.
So why, in my opinion, should be go? The game has passed him by. He’s shown the ability to adapt, when forced to, there’s no mistaking that. The False Nine formation he employed against Spurs in October was an example of that.
The man does has a tactical understanding that is lurking in the shadows, seemingly repressed by a desire to stick with what he knows. That tendency to revert to type is one of his biggest weaknesses.
Football is a unique business to be fair, especially with the type of money tossed around in the game. But that isn’t to say there is no similarities between traditional business and football. A refusal to evolve leads to stagnation in both. That’s the situation West Ham is finding itself in at the moment.
All the more frustrating is that Allardyce has shown, and succeeded with, different tactics. But he’s not comfortable outside of the box he lives in.
His loyalty can also be a liability. In certain instances, Kevin Nolan a stand out example, loyalty has proven to be the correct choice. This website in particular was calling for Nolan’s head after his stupid red card against Fulham when we could least afford it. You may recall the outcry to allow Ravel Morrison to establish his place.
It was the wrong call, and Sam proved why he’s the boss and Nolan repaid his faith in vital goals. But that is the exception rather than the rule. Matt Taylor for example continues to be played, although the rich vein of form he had found to establish himself as a regular has now dried up.
Antonio Nocerino has shined in his substitute performances, and stumbled a bit in his one start thus far. But on the face of it he’s a much better player than Taylor, and should be given a decent run in the squad. But Taylor is one of Allardyce’s trusted men dating back to his Bolton days and Nocerino isn’t likely to be given the opportunity.
One player who has been continually given the opportunity but out of position is Mo Diame. This is yet another example of bizarre and potentially dangerous decisions being made by Sam.
Last year, alongside Mark Noble, Diame looked like one of the best players in the squad every match he played. A dynamic box to box midfielder, Noble provided his anchor and Diame the ability to create chances.
After a bad patch at the start of the season Diame has now been regularly played out of position as a winger. A bizarre choice when we have, depending on injuries, Stewart Downing, Matt Jarvis, Joe Cole and Ricardo Vaz Te to choose from with only Noble, Taylor and Jack Collison in the middle of the park.
It’s not as though the lad has shone in his new position, so it a mystery as to why he continues to be played there. The only answer is Sam’s steadfast opposition to change.
This kind of attitude and thinking isn’t the way the club needs to move forward. We need a dynamic, innovate manager whose capable of adapting to the game as it evolves. Malky McKay and Michael Laudrup are two names being bandied about at the moment.
Either would be exciting choices. Their systems would take time to institute, but they would lay a good template to move the club forward.
Sam Allardyce has done a commendable job in his time at the club, but he’s simply not the right man to continue moving forward with. He deserves praise for getting us back in the top flight and stabilizing us in it. But with the move to the Olympic Stadium on the horizon, the time is now to make our move.