Sam Allardyce was left rather bemused last night after his West Ham side were greeted with a chorus of boos at the final whistle following their 2-1 victory over Hull City at Upton Park.
Fans have the right to voice their opinions, and more often than not take advantage of this, but surely booing after an important win over a near Premier League rival is borderline ridiculous?
Allardyce clearly thought so; the Englishman was pretty frank in his assessment of the whole evening:
“At half-time the players were talking more about fans booing them than the game. Fans affect players. We don’t need them on the players’ backs when we are coming off three defeats. They have to stay and help them win. We’ve played 31 games and have 34 points. We’ve taken ourselves above Hull now. When we look at the league table, tonight’s performance hardly matters.”
“It’s just about the three points and the victory. Nothing can be taken for granted in this game. You can’t assume you’ll win 3-0 if you’re playing against 10 men. I’ve not experienced that before in the time I’ve been in the game.”
Pressure from the fans rarely ever helps those on the pitch, but it is important not to view this latest show of unrest in isolation. West Ham fans have rarely been satisfied under Allardyce, whilst results have been adequate the playing style has failed to match the expectations set by the Upton Park faithful. Last night was simply a boiling over of month after month of frustration for fans that hope to see at least some semblance of development in the way their side play.
Too many times this season West Ham are snatching games, attritional football geared towards nullifying the opposition rather than adding anything to the game themselves. Allardyce might argue that owing to injuries and the threat of relegation that this is the only way to go, but West Ham fans might argue otherwise.
Last night embodies everything that is wrong with West Ham, failing to capitalise on a controversial red card for Allan McGregor they did the bare minimum in scraping over the line to victory. Hull actually dominated possession (56%) and matched West Ham with 10 shots; this was far from the romp to victory that many could have expected after the red card. In fact it took a comedic own goal from James Chester to hand the ‘Irons’ the points, something that they barely deserved.
Sam Allardyce may seem harshly treated after supposedly masterminding another victory for his side, but even he must be aware that his tenure is precariously placed at the moment.
West Ham captain Kevin Nolan was equally bemused by the crowd’s protests:
“Sam Allardyce had Bolton in the top 10, he got us to the top six. When you give him the chance, he builds a strong team. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He has taken a lot of flak here and it is very surprising, but people have their opinions and you take it on the chin.”
It is easy to dismiss West Ham fans as expecting too much and being overly critical of their side. But I can sympathise with a set of supporters that would happily sacrifice a few points to see their side go about things in a different way. The pressure on Allardyce is there for a reason, and unless things change dramatically in the next few months you can expect the likes of Gold and Sullivan to look to make a change.
Last night simply proved that results aren’t everything and that fans will not be blinded by points, there are still aspects of football that are even more important than purely winning.
The frosty relationship between Allardyce and the fans may finally have come to a head, with the next few weeks surely telling for the East London club.