The criticism was as rife as ever during the summer, and after a dismal pre-season, the Big Sam moaners were out in full-force. Allardyce has put up with an incredible amount of criticism from the second he stepped into Upton Park as the West Ham manager, the majority of it being unwarranted.
In his first season he was given the simple target of gaining instant promotion – he did it.
In his second season it was all about Premier League survival – comfortably, he did it.
For his third season it was again about Premier League survival – uncomfortably, he did it.
It’s now his fourth season in charge of West Ham and things are going very well indeed. The current Hammers squad is the best for a long time and the fans are starting to dream of more than just survival. More importantly, there aren’t many sides who have stuck by their manager through the kind of incredible fan pressure that has been exerted at the Boleyn Ground. West Ham are living proof that sacking a manager isn’t always the answer.
Regardless of how well he’s doing, he is still a long way from getting the credit of the ‘Fat Sam Out’ brigade, as they find it impossible to swallow their pride and admit how wrong they were.
Although it would feel rather strange chanting ‘Big Sam’s claret and blue army!’ for the first time after he has spent three full campaigns at Upton Park, it would not be undeserved. I don’t for a second believe that Allardyce is the type of manager to listen to the crowd’s chants in the hope that he hears his name, however on this occasion it may well give him an immense amount of pride to finally feel accepted by his own supporters. It’s still unlikely to happen anytime soon.
If there is one outstanding attribute that he holds, it’s his attention to detail when it comes to preparing tactics for each and every opposition. Some managers simply rely on their way being the right way, whereas Sam is willing to try many different methods in order to combat stronger sides defensively, or to target opponent’s weaknesses i.e. Mangala vs Man City.
Allardyce should be a manager who fills the supporters with confidence due to the fact that he is always prepared. The myth of long-ball football is finally leaving him behind after supporters are realising that he plays to his sides strengths and equally avoids their weaknesses.
The Hammers’ style has morphed drastically since last season. That’s no surprise given that two quick strikers have replaced one laboured giant, and a player of Alex Song’s quality is running things in the midfield.
Sam didn’t change things single-handedly but he certainly knew what he was doing. I don’t think he, or anyone for that matter, had envisaged it going as well as it is, but it’s about time Sam Allardyce got the credit he deserves from all West Ham fans.