In the past, Hammers boss Sam Allardyce has had questions levelled at him about his style of play, with many claiming his sides aren’t necessarily ‘ones for the neutral’. However, all it boils down to really is that Sam Allardyce has his style of play, and others have theirs.
This direct style of play has seen the Hammers gel well as a team and has stabilised the London club’s status in top-flight football. Michael Laudrup encourages his own personal style of play, but also has in the past stated his admiration towards Sam Allardyce for sticking to his guns in what can often be a ruthless management industry.
However, many believe that this direct style is one of the reasons behind the national team’s failure, for example, encouraging physically strong players as opposed to gifted and talented individuals. Tony Pulis is a prime example of a manager who had his way of playing – direct and physical – which led Stoke City to the a cup final and the last 32 of the Europa League, never mind stabilising the club and establishing them as a Premier League side without ever facing a relegation battle.
The philosophies that Tony Pulis believed in, were frowned upon by a lot of neutrals and eventually, chairman Peter Coates decided that he wanted his club to play more attractive football, rather than ‘winning ugly’. Sam Allardyce hasn’t in any way received the same label as Pulis but his style of play draws similarities and can raise a few eyebrows from time to time.
The Capital One Cup for West Ham has been a huge success, seeing them defy the odds and reach the Semi-Finals after beating London rivals Tottenham in Round 5. The resilience shown by the Hammers is partly down to the style of play that Sam Allardyce encourages. Direct play up to their big forwards can be intimidating, especially against teams like Tottenham and Man City who enjoy playing attractive possession-based football.
Manuel Pellegrini will be concerned with their Semi-Final opponents as a result of this, where they could find themselves bullied out of the game by West Ham’s physical, yet effective style of play. This season has seen City struggle against teams lower down the Premier League table, having lost to Stoke 1-0 away from the Etihad and losing 3-2 away to Cardiff City at the beginning of the season, suggesting the more physical and direct teams can intimidate Pellegrini’s side.
The first leg of the tie should see West Ham’s big summer signing Andy Carroll return from an injury that’s kept him out of action for the beginning of the season. This news will delight Allardyce and of course Hammers’ fans, as the £15million man was a real force up front for the Hammers last season.
The big Geordie can spark life back into the Boleyn Ground, which has seen a huge lack of goals this season. Pellegrini will be wary of the target man’s presence and his impact on the game could see Allardyce’s direct approach get the better of the league and Capital One Cup favourites.
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