FAN'S VIEW: Allardyce the man to take Hammers forward despite shortcomings (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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West Ham fan Billy Blagg says Sam Allardyce is the man to take the Hammers forward, despite his shortcomings this term
The excited - but frankly deluded - fan who told me earlier this season that he didn’t mind ‘if West Ham got relegated providing we beat Spurs three times’ must have been cock-a-hoop after the Hammers trounced their north London rivals 2-0 in an exhilarating game at Upton Park on Saturday.
The three points from the victory were enough to push the Irons to the magic 40 point mark, ensure another season in the Premier league and at least put some date stamp on the 2013/14 season.
All that against a backdrop of what was supposed to be an afternoon of protest as fans showed their frustration at what are supposed to be the shortcomings of Sam Allardyce.
If nothing else, Sam would have seen how quickly these things can be forgotten when things are going well.
Victory at the home of Manchester City on the last day will be a much more difficult task but providing there’s not a repeat of the debacle in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final earlier this year, I think it’s likely that Sam will emerge unscathed from a difficult season in which injuries (was it ever any different?) and a confused transfer policy could have provided a sterner test for a less experienced manager.
As it is, while it can’t be called a successful season – there were too many vapid performances and infuriating inconsistencies for that – it is still a solid basis on which to build for the future.
I know everybody is fed up with statements that begin, ‘When we get to the new stadium’, but it’s a fool who doesn’t acknowledge it is all about that for the next two seasons.
West Ham could still finish in a near mid-table position with a forward line that has barely troubled anyone who has difficulty counting on more than one hand; a ponderous midfield; a criminal lack of pace and an inability to find space forward when defending.
Set against that though is the not inconsiderable defensive performance that saw 14 clean sheets and the emergence of a new goalkeeper – a transition that is always difficult.
Unlike the 78% who recently voted in an online poll for Allardyce to go, I believe the manager sees the shortcomings from this season and will attempt to put them right in the next.
Although there are some obvious concerns about some of the purchases the manager has made over the past two years – this season’s ‘success’ owes much to players who were already at the club when Sam arrived - I believe Davids Gold and Sullivan will rightly persist with the ex-Bolton boss and trust him with the close-season budget as the Hammers attempt to push-on.
There will be many who think it is the wrong decision, but at least they can be comforted by the expectation from another guaranteed two matches against Spurs next season.
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