Last season Sam Allardyce lead West Ham to a 3rd place finish in the Championship only finishing short of automatic promotion due to the outstanding seasons produced by Southampton and Reading. Despite being far ahead of the castaway teams in the playoffs West Ham had to conquer Blackpool at Wembley in order to rightfully gain their position in the Premier League.
Now the former Bolton manager is ready to fight for Premier League survival and has been busy in the transfer window replacing departing Robert Green with the experienced Jussi Jaaskelainen; James Collins shores up defence; whilst Diarra, Diame and Maiga have all also arrived to contribute.
But his biggest coup is bringing Andy Carroll to the club on loan from Liverpool.
As the England forward trudged off injured at Upton Park this weekend the ever exuberant West Ham faithful voiced their appreciation at his efforts with a deserved standing ovation and the overwhelming consensus is one of joy at the Geordie boy’s arrival on the East End.
However are any Hammers fans not pleased to see his face?
Last season Sam Allardyce received some stick from sections of his support about his perceived direct style of play. That isn’t the West Ham way you see; they are more inclined toward a fast paced attacking style complete with zippy passing and counter attack abilities.
Now with Carroll leading the line the undoubted urge is to announce it is a full on return to Big Sam’s successful long ball tactics at Bolton Wanderers. Do any West Ham fans feel the signing is against the West Ham grain?
If they do I can’t honestly disagree with them more. Big Sam does adopt a direct style when necessary but toward the end of his Bolton tenure he had adopted a far more sleek game with players such as Nicolas Anelka in the line-up. Against Fulham they only went long just as much as Arsenal did toward Olivier Giroud at Anfield the following day. Usually any long ball came after delightful build up from the impressive Mark Noble and the overlooked assurance of Mohamed Diame. Collins punted it a few times but why not with a man as potent as Andy Carroll up top, with the instinctive qualities of Kevin Nolan, Ricardo Vaz Te and Matty Taylor around him it was a devastating tactic that Fulham struggled to deal with.
Irons fans should be pleased with the acquisition of Carroll as they looked unplayable during that first half display on Saturday. As Big Sam himself once said about the tag of a long ball specialist being so intrinsically attached to his name ...
"It is a tag that has followed me around for a long time and one I'm never going to be able to shift. I can't do anything about that but I can win football matches."
And if he continues to win matches, I doubt we will hear the boo-boys when the long ball to Carroll gets played every now and again.
What do you think? Is Sam Allardyce's reputation fair? Does it matter if it keeps you in the Premier League?
image: © dannymol