Big Sam has a track record of helping off-the-rails players rediscover their top form.
Though West Ham United fans may shudder at the prospect of bringing Arsenal outcast Nicklas Bendtner to Upton Park, in Sam Allardyce they possess a manager with an eye for a bargain and an inate ability to get the best out of other club’s cast-offs.
Hammers fans will no doubt recall, with dread, Big Sam’s previous dip in the Emirates bargain bin, which saw Marouane Chamakh arrive on loan last January only to play three games without scoring a goal before he made his return to north London.
But before any West Ham fans point to the parallels between the Moroccan forward and the big Dane, it’s important to point out that while the former’s career has been in the doldrums for some time, with the latter it’s been a case of bad timing and injuries.
Let’s not forget the Bendtner we saw for Denmark at Euro 2012, where his excellent hold-up play and aerial ability brought goals and an infamous fine for his shorts-dropping antics against Portugal.
It was those qualities that make him a player of real potential for West Ham, with Allardyce previously favouring the use of Andy Carroll as the club’s main target man.
And while some may scoff at the abilities of the Dane, it’s important to remember that his fine showing in Poland and Ukraine was enough to tempt Juventus into a move, with that loan deal ultimately proving a disaster after serious injury ruled him out for the duration of the season.
When the summer came, the Old Lady had the choice of taking another gamble on Bendtner or going in for Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente, who was available on a free. They opted for the latter.
Though it initially looked like a move to Palace was on the cards, when the 25-year-old did make his return for the Gunners in a September League Cup clash with West Brom he made an impact, providing the assist for Thomas Eisfeld’s goal.
And though still rusty against Chelsea, Allardyce may yet be willing to take a risk on the forward, who will most likely to be available for next to nothing come January.
Big Sam has a proven track record of rehabilitating fallen stars, with the likes of Kevin Davies, Youri Djorkaeff and Jay-Jay Okocha all thriving at Bolton under the Irons gaffer.
In each instances these players arrived at Allardyce with fitness and confidence issues but, ever the bargain-hunter, the former Toon Army chief helped them turn their careers around.
The West Ham boss need not look far for an example of what Bendtner can bring to a team in West Ham’s predicament either, with the Dane previously netting eight crucial goals in a season-long loan with Sunderland that helped the club cement it’s Premier League status.
With the Hammers facing a striker crisis and running out of options fast, he may be one worth reconsidering.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald