West Ham: For Gold and Sullivan to preserve their legacy, Allardyce must go

For Gold and Sullivan to Save their Legacy, its time for Allardyce to go, writes Andrew Pickford.

In May 2010, the West Ham co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan dismissed manager Gianfranco Zola following a disappointing 17th placed finish in the Premier League.

The former Birmingham City chairmen had been in charge of the club for barely five months, and had taken over a club with massive debts and the saga of the Tevez scandal still hanging over it.

The duo, boyhood Hammers fans, had dismissed a manager had produced a team who played football in the tradition of the club, to the appreciation of the fans and ultimately led to a ninth placed finish the season before. He had managed to get Carlton Cole into the England squad, with goals like this and produced a team capable of expansive, attractive football.

The 2009/10 season saw the Irons struggle for goals, beset by injuries and, with an imbalanced squad, they struggled. Over the previous 18 months the club had sold off experienced players such James Collins, Bobby Zamora, Matthew Etherington and Lucas Neill and failed to replace them owing to the existing debts and prior mismanagement by the Icelandics - who still retain a stake (albeit through an administrative company) in the club.

The owners took it upon themselves to sign a trio of stars – Mido, Ilan and Benny McCarthy – in the January transfer window, with extremely limited success.

Next came Avram Grant – the less said about that mistake the better.

The proceeding capitulation during the 2010/11 campaign saw the Hammers relegated for the first time since Glenn Roeder’s leadership, and the board elected to change the manager once more.

The subsequent appointment of Sam Allardyce was received by mixed views from fans. The pragmatic amongst them agreed that he was a manager who produced results and had the relevant experience of getting into, and establishing a club within the Premier League on limited resources. The hardened Hammer’s faithful, built on the teachings of Ron Greenwood and the skill and guile of Moore, Brooking and Devonshire, where aghast at the prospect of Big Sam’s self-styled percentage ‘hoofball’.

Instant promotion to the top flight, albeit through the play-offs, managed to appease fans to an extent – as did some sensible signings in the first year; notably Mo Diame and the loan signing of Andy Carroll. Their first season led to a 10th placed finish in the Premier League. The football was not great, but the ends justified the means for many fans.

Alongside this achievement, the owners have managed to secure the Olympic Stadium, a move that once more has split supporters, with the prospect of losing one of the most traditional and atmospheric grounds in European football looming on the horizon.

To the current season. The major failing of the club was pre-season. The signing of Carroll on a permanent basis was the marquee buy that Gold and Sullivan had sought since they took over the club. However, the failure to back that up with a proficient second striker has hurt the club significantly, and questions the wisdom of signing the England striker in the first place – given questions about who would sign to play second fiddle to the big Geordie.

The most damning indictment however, has to be the side that Allardyce has set up to be so reliant on one target man up front. The reluctance to deviate from the formula of an ageing Kevin Nolan behind Carroll has left the side completely impotent in his absence, and devoid of any attacking threat. My beloved Irons have been left as a side with no joy, no passion, no excitement to watch and no Plan A, B or C.

The next time David Gold takes to interviews or Twitter to describe his birth near Green Street or his schoolboy career with the Hammers he might well take note that forgiving your principles for success is one thing, but foregoing history and tradition for failure is not acceptable.

image: © Ben Sutherland

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