There has been a lot of talk about who could replace Sam Allardyce as manager of West Ham United at the end of the season. From Slaven Bilic to Michael Laudrup, there has been an influx of names that are suddenly linked to the job at Upton Park, despite the fact that it is being occupied by a perfectly capable Premier League manager at present.
The frustration after West Ham’s 4-0 FA Cup exit at the hands of West Bromwich Albion was understandable as the Hammers were simply awful. However, what is not understandable is the fact that Allardyce’s job is immediately surrounded with speculation as soon as one result does not go West Ham’s way. Since he became manager back in 2011, Allardyce has successfully completed all the managerial expectations the club has asked of him. Whether that’s gaining promotion to the Premier League, staying in the top flight or challenging for European football, Allardyce has successfully achieved the goals that the West Ham board have set him throughout his time at Upton Park.
One of the main reasons as to why Allardyce’s future could be in the balance is the fact that the manager is yet to be offered a new deal at the club. His current contract expires this summer but the board have been quick to admit that like last season, a review of the manager’s position will take place when the 2014/15 campaign is over. This is where West ham must tread carefully. When the season is looked at overall, it looks as if the Hammers will finish the campaign in the top half of the Premier League, representing another improvement under Big Sam. At times this season, the Hammers have been a joy to watch, playing good football with new signings that have added extra quality to the squad that allows the team to compete with the very best in the league. If a similar margin of improvement takes place next season under Allardyce, West Ham will be one of the best teams in England.
Although there have been points where the Hammers have struggled this season, they still look like a very solid outfit that are hard to beat, a trait typically associated with Sam Allardyce’s managerial philosophy. Another injury to Andy Carroll and the continued demise of Kevin Nolan has almost forced the manager to change things at Upton Park and on the whole, West Ham play good football without the former Newcastle United teammates. If Allardyce continues to embrace the attacking, entertaining style of play that was so prominent at Upton Park in the earlier stages of the season then he should be rewarded with a new contract. In fact, even if Allardyce doesn’t produce excellent attacking football, isn’t it wise to stick with him in the last season before the move to the Olympic Stadium, just to make sure the Hammers are playing Premier League football in 2016/17 and beyond?
The key to a long-term success at a club like West Ham is stability. Bringing in a new manager at the end of the season could be something some West Ham fans want but it is clearly an unnecessary risk. If Allardyce dragged West Ham through this current season, battling relegation and playing negative football, it would be understandable that fans may be calling for his head at the end of it all.
However, the irony of the situation is that Allardyce has, yet again, done everything that was asked of him in pre-season. West Ham can become the club they want to be under Allardyce’s leadership as they are showing a steady improvement under the manager’s leadership. Although there are times when the former Bolton boss’ tactics are questioned, there are also games when West Ham overachieve and play fantastic football.
The manager will never be lauded at the club but he should never be disrespected considering the job he has carried out in East London so far. If he is moved on at the end of the season, it is a bold move from the owners and it is one that needs a lot of thought and care before any rash decisions are made.
The board stood by their man last summer when things were looking bleak for Allardyce and they should stick with him again at the end of this season. West Ham fans may think that a new manager could change things for the better but parting company with Allardyce could be one of the biggest mistakes the club could make amidst the impending move to the Olympic Stadium.
Forget the romantic, ‘final season at the Boleyn’ managerial appointment, Allardyce is still the right man for West Ham United.