With one eye on the 2014/15 season and the other presumably on the white rabbit just about to disappear down the hole to Wonderland, the West Ham board proudly announced the shock news that Sam Allardyce is to remain as manager in a new regime in which nothing changes but everything will be different.
We truly are through the looking-glass here.
It’s very difficult to know what to make of this all really, the major surprise not being that Sam was retained, rather the board thought they could do without him in the first place.
It’s difficult to imagine a top foreign coach being interested in sitting in the Nissan Hut at Chadwell Heath but with Davids Gold and Sullivan reputedly wanting an English manager anyway, who else could they look too without risking the club’s top flight status?
Any up-and-coming Championship boss was a chance the club couldn’t afford to take, while the other English candidates – Harry Redknapp and Alan Pardew - have both been trialled before.
Notwithstanding concerns over the failure of some of Sam’s big-money signings – surely the real reason that Allardyce’s job was said to be in jeopardy – the mid-table finish with an injury-hit squad - would seem to be the best the board could have expected in the last campaign.
Of course, some of the football was poor but it would be even less entertaining if it saw the club relegated at the end of it.
But now? Well, with talk of a ‘attacking coach’ being sought, a war chest of £20m being given to Sam with the proviso that the board won’t sanction any cheque writing without being personally involved (are we to presume this wasn’t the case before?) and promises of football more in keeping with the West Ham ethos – whatever that is! – suddenly everything in the garden is tinged with red.
Quite what happens when next season’s equivalent of the Hull game comes around and Sam is shouting “Back, back” and the new coach is shouting “No, forward, forward!” is anyone’s guess – I think we all have a good idea though.
Still, whatever the clash of cultures here, at least the Allardyce remit is clear. The club are expecting a top ten finish with some stylish football along the way; everyone knows what is wanted and what is expected and all are – apparently anyway – extremely happy. Ravel Morrison is on his way back and the silly season rumour mill is in full swing with all types of exciting players ‘on their way to the Boleyn’.
So pass me my hat with the 75p tag on it and pour me a tea with a dormouse in. Because, although nothing has really changed, everyone is now excited about the 2014/15 season. Perhaps that was the plan all along?