At West Ham, manager Sam Allardyce is more loathed than loved. From bobbing around the top four at the start of the season to now sitting in their typical mid-table position Big Sam might once again find himself out of a job come the summer.
Early wins against Liverpool and Manchester City, combined with their composure to steadily pick up draws along the way, had helped West Ham build an enviable points haul before the Christmas period. But it wasn’t to last through to the New Year as Allardyce’s men buckled under the pressure. Now 28 games in, West Ham are sitting in tenth. Last season they finished 13th and, with ten games to go, the Hammers might find themselves with no progress to boast come May.
After a summer of plenty of new arrivals – namely Alex Song from Barcelona, who intelligently controls their midfield – and forwards Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia tasked with racking up the goals, West Ham looked set for a good season. Senegal international Sakho, who joined from French Ligue 2 side Metz, has so far scored nine Premier League goals, making him the Hammers’ top scorer. Not bad for his first season. So why have they not kept up with the likes of Southampton when they have these quality new additions?
I guess the painfully short return of striker Andy Carroll may have played a part in why West Ham have not pushed on from last season. Carroll is considered to be their number one strike option but injuries have plagued his time at Upton Park. Since joining from Liverpool back in 2012 Carroll has been unable to make the big impact expected, scoring only two league goals last season and five this one.
The poor guy has been blighted by injury and suspensions, including missing the first 11 games of this season, only to briefly return before picking up another injury, which has completely ruled him out for the rest of the season. Again.
Perhaps Allardyce should take blame for placing so much faith in a striker who has yet to prove he is worthy of that faith. It has seen West Ham struggle with consistency, especially considering both Sakho and Valencia are still adapting to both their new team mates and the Premier League in general.
Long gone is the gratitude towards Allardyce for pulling West Ham up from the Championship only three years ago and they’ve now been replaced with calls for him to lose his job. With Allardyce’s contract up for renewal at the end of the season it may not be long before some fans get their wish. Word is that West Ham’s board are ready to make that change and have drawn up a list of names that include Dutch duo Michael Laudrup and Frank Rijkaard.
The fashion these days appears to be that clubs look to the continent in order to find a decent manager.
I get the impression that West Ham supporters are just a bit fed up. No longer do they want to see their team put in so-so performances. They want more attractive, competitive football instead of the dull, long ball style their beloved club has become associated with under Allardyce. As they prepare to move to the Olympic Stadium in August 2016, West Ham could swiftly grow to become one of English football’s emerging forces. A team ambitious enough to emulate what their fellow London rivals Tottenham, Arsenal and Tottenham have achieved in recent years.
So with only three points taken from a possible 18 in their last six games, Allardyce really isn’t proving that he is the right man to take West Ham forward and now, after four seasons at the helm, I guess it is the right time to give the fans what they want – a fresh start.