Idealism appeared to play little part in West Ham’s appointment of Sam Allardyce as manager last summer. A club whose history is a monument to the ‘right’ way to play football seems almost diametrically opposed to the ‘win-at-all-costs’ approach of the former Bolton, Newcastle and Blackburn manager.

The 57-year-old may have attained promotion at his first attempt for West Ham but few supporters were enamoured with the way in which it was achieved. Considering the quality of the squad and the money available to Allardyce, to win promotion through the playoffs was hardly ideal, especially considering they relied on an 87th minute goal to achieve the feat.

The West Ham manager’s penchant for players over six foot, and football to match, had Hammers fans grumbling and groaning for large periods of the season whilst much of their football between Christmas and March was some of the ugliest on offer in the top two tiers of the English game. The five draws of March, in particular, inspired the voicing of concern from fans. Although The Hammers ended the season with a run of eight wins from their last nine matches, scoring twenty-five goals along the way, criticism of the manager’s style has remained.

Upon achieving promotion, Allardyce has now split opinion amongst the club’s supporters. There are those who appear to have detracted previous statements about only playing attractive football, who are merely grateful for their swift return to the top flight, especially considering how close they came to not realising that goal.

Some, however, are not swayed by such a view. They would sooner believe that if a manager had, as Allardyce did last year, the best squad in the league and still refused to play attacking football then he doesn’t belong at West Ham.

However, considering they are a newly-promoted team, and considering that, comparatively, West Ham have gone from the strongest squad in the league to one of the weakest, is it too much for fans of the club to expect both style and substance from Allardyce?

The first thing to remember is that, although their fans might feel as though there is a ‘West Ham way of doing things’ in reality that means little. Admittedly, some teams, like Barcelona, do have a continuous ethos at the club in terms of how the game should be played. Yet even the big clubs can turn on such inherent beliefs. Real Madrid and others have been known to sacrifice style for substance in order to achieve their goals. They proved that with the appointment of Fabio Capello and then Jose Mourinho.

Or if you’re looking for an example a little closer to home then you could take Arsenal. Their reputation as a free-flowing, attacking team belies the fact that for nine years under George Graham they were perpetrators of a defensive, direct style of football that was not totally at odds with the philosophy of Sam Allardyce.

Generations of fans become accustomed to witnessing a style of football that they enjoy or appreciate and when a manager tries to change that they object.

But that doesn’t mean said style is entwined with the club’s identity.

Ultimately, Allardyce is utilising his squad in a way that he feels is most effective. I’m not defending his style of play, or his personality, but it does seem that those West Ham fans that criticise Allardyce should realise that he is not really to blame.

Allardyce’s teams have always prioritised winning over stylish football; that is his managerial identity. Anybody who expects him to change this is dreaming. The fans may be unhappy with his style, but don’t use the excuse that it is unbecoming for West Ham to play as such because it is incredibly ignorant of any team to claim they are too good for a certain style of football when they have been relegated.

The second point to be made is that, if the fans are looking for somebody to blame, why not vent anger at the owners who chose Allardyce as manager in the first place. In appointing him, they were the individuals responsible for choosing to abandon the attacking principles of West Ham. I don’t like his style of play, and I wouldn’t want him managing my club but to criticise Allardyce’s managerial style seems a little unfair considering it was that style that earned him the job in the first place. It might be possible to expect both style and substance from some managers, but Allardyce isn’t that man.

Follow me on Twitter @H_Mackay

 

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  • Brad
    2 years ago

    West Ham’s style of play was exaggerated last season. With teams setting up with all 11 men behind the ball against them, in the closing stages of games long ball was inevitable. To say they were playing some of the ugliest football in the top two tiers is wide of the mark, but at times to win the game against defensive sides it was necessary. I have a feeling West Ham may surprise a few this season with their style of play an results. The owners deserve nothing but praise at how they have save the club.

    Reply
    • luke
      2 years ago

      more sense in this comment than in the whole article

      Reply
    • Hammers Girl
      2 years ago

      Clearly a West Ham fan… and someone with a brain, unlike the chap who has attempted to call the article above ‘journalism’…

      Reply
  • Ian G
    2 years ago

    Totally agree, we were the team to beat last season and everyone played there best or most egative to try and achieve that, the only mistake we made as season was not hving an outstanding winger which I belive would have turned half of those draws into wins. Dont forget we have some totally outstanding games last season away to Blackpool springs to mind

    Reply
  • sean
    2 years ago

    I think West Ham have to expect a mid-table finish. The fact we have just come up again means its hard to attract big name players, but i’ve heard about this guy called Wang Haibo. Plays in the south korean league, but has been rumoured about coming to the premier league for a while. Its a battle between us and QPR for his signature. Looks fantastic, the new Tevez?

    Reply
    • Hammers Girl
      2 years ago

      I hate to tell you this but that’s not a real footballer… it’s a running joke on Twitter… agree with everything else though!

      Reply
      • Sergio Johnson
        2 years ago

        Going have to correct you here, Wang Haibo is in fact a player! Plays for Gangneung City FC who are in the Korea National League (Below the K-League). He netted 21 goals in 47 appearances last season (Cup & League) which is fairly impressive for such a young player.

        Reply
  • raven
    2 years ago

    if we have to keep s.a. put the pressure on him to get SAMBA and Hoilett..he should know that..shouldn’t he? Tomkins needs a security blanket and old king Cole needs the service…what about resigning Joe Cole ? as cover for the mids

    Reply
  • Roy
    2 years ago

    I am a WHU fan so I suppose I have an axe to grind but I went to Upton Pk 12 times last year and the only team that came to try and attack us was Blackpool they lost 4 nil. every other team including Southhampton packed the middle and played on the break. At times we did run out of ideas but it is a tough league and not esasy to get out of you can say what you like about Aladyce but ask Bolton fans he stabilises and then brings in Flair ! Dont believe me ? look at Anelka, Ocacha, hierro, and Stelios another thing he is good at is getting the best out of players who have lost there way just look at Kevin Davies. west ham mid table next year.

    Reply
  • Peter
    2 years ago

    Criticism of Allardyce and the owners beggars belief. The owners were faced with a bankrupt club, and had just experienced relegation. It is time that the “so-called” West Ham fans realize that most enjoyment from a game is when you win. I am sick and tired of hearing that the West Ham way of playing is pretty, but we lose. I have been a Hammer for over sixty years, and I honestly think that the current ownership and manager have been the best thing to happen to West Ham for eons. We now have a team that can hold a lead, a team that can scrape a result on the road, a team that scores goals in the final few minutes of a game, a team that is lead by a captain that understands what the meaning of “captain” is. I am fuly behind Sam, the owners, and this new West Ham project. I feel more excited about the club than in any time over the past 10 years. Sure, a mid-table finish maybe all we can achieve this season, but let’s look at the big picture. Sam accomplished a lot more than mid-table mediocrity at Bolton. So who is to say, with the backing of our owners, he cannot achieve the same with us? Let’s stop fantasizing that we are MU or MC, we are West Ham, and if we can get into the top ten, even the top six, what more can we expect? Get behind Sam, the Davids and the team, and let see haow far we can go!

    Reply
  • Will
    2 years ago

    Well said everyone. We were every teams cup final last year and were left frustrated week in week out by teams “parking the bus”. We played some fantastic football last year at times and at times some more direct style, we showed we can adapt to the situation. and dont forget that bad run of Draws was mainly against sides fighting for their lives. How many times have we taken points off the big boys in an end of season scrap we we just had to? I am as excited about this year as any year I can remember and I have been watching this great club for close to 40 years.

    Reply

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