So the results of the Sam Allardyce poll are in with nearly 78 per cent of the 10,000 fans polled not wanting him to be retained. Asking for a straight yes or no answer in the poll was perhaps a bit simplistic, since my view would be that Allardyce should only stay if her can give certain reassurances. Firstly that he will resolve the Ravel Morrison situation and retain a player we could build a side around; secondly that he can play more expansive football next season; thirdly that we will not rely exclusively on one striker; and fourthly that he will have some PR lessons and if in doubt praise the fans rather than cup his ear to us.
In defence of Sam's record, he's done what is required. Gaining promotion at the first attempt was a considerable feat that few clubs achieve and survival (hopefully!) for two seasons has provided financial stability. We could have been in administration or League 1 by now if he hadn't got promotion. The majority of his signings have been successful overall, such as Jaaskelainen, Adrian, Demel, O'Brien, Collins, McCartney, Vaz Te, Nolan, Diame and Carroll (if we discount the injuries). But Downing and Jarvis haven't produced enough for £16 million and Maiga and Diarra have been disasters.
It's the style of football that most fans have a problem with. It's wrong to say that West Ham play exclusively long ball under Allardyce — apart from the odd Collins free kick— as much of the midfield play is on the ground and directed towards getting crosses in at Carroll. Some of the wing play has been half-decent, but the overall tactic of getting as many crosses as possible in towards Carroll's head appears to have been rumbled and there is no discernible alternative. It underrates Carroll's skill on the ground and is over-reliant on the fading Kevin Nolan and Big Andy not being injured. In away games the formation is predictable too, with WHU never using a second striker from the start and rarely attacking weaker teams from the kick-off. We've escaped relegation, but only just, and have lost seven out of nine.
The Olympic Stadium is a new factor too. Whereas we might have been content just to stay up at Upton Park, now the club has to gain an extra 20,000 fans. If the fans were united behind the manager it would be a start and that spells problems for Big Sam, as many will never accept him. I'm certainly no fan of the ridiculous sacking culture of the Premier League, but if Sam Allardyce can't provide reassurances on the points mentioned in the first paragraph and the board has identified a good candidate, then the close season will surely be time to make a change.
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