Talking Point

How do you solve a problem like Big Sam?

First of all let me start by saying I have the utmost respect for Big Sam. I have met him three times since he took over West ham and have always found him intelligent, witty and highly entertaining in person. I first met him at The London Business Forum in November 2011 and one of the first things he told an audience of business men was the average life of a premier league manager was 1 year 8 months with a championship manager life span just 1 year 2 months.

He survived his time as a Championship manager by getting us promoted at the first attempt of asking.Technically I guess he became a Premier league manager again on 19th May 2012 when we won the play off final at Wembley.

We finished a surprising 10th place last season but the second season syndrome has started to kick in and the West Ham natives are getting restless. Last Tuesday made it 1 year 6 months in charge so January 19th next year will make it the dreaded 1 year 8 months anniversary of a Premier League manager. Will he survive until then? David Gold seems quiet on twitter lately but I am sure Mr Allardyce has the full confidence of the board!

Some West Ham fans didn’t like Big Sam from day one, they complained about his direct football and pointed out he scraped Premier league promotion via the play offs. Even when we came 10th last season they complained the football wasn’t attractive enough and he doesn’t play the West Ham way.I have backed Sam since the beginning at West Ham and have always believed his organisation skills is just what the doctor ordered for the rebuilding of West Ham. Only a few weeks ago Sam was hailed as a tactical genius for the ‘false nine’ tactic that beat Spurs 3-0. My mantra on the West Ham podcast I co-host and my brief appearance on Talk Sport radio is “Sam’s teams do not go down!”

There has been a lot of water under the bridge since that brief moment of glory and the tactic of playing no striker is wearing very thin and expected by every team we play .

What was the point of signing Mladen Petric and Carlton Cole if we aren’t going to play a striker?

The news on Andy Carroll doesn’t appear good either. He has moved from his hotel & clinic in Antwerp, Belgium to Amsterdam. One can only imagine the club weren’t happy with the treatment in Antwerp and have moved clinics and country. I can’t see any way we can be insured for his continued injury as it was a pre existing condition when we signed him. That’s £80,000 plus out of the club each and every week.

However the water shed moment for me came on Saturday after the double substitution of Joe Cole and Jack Collison for Momo Diame and Miaga to the background of the crowd chanting “You don’t know what your doing!” Later on came more disquiet from the fans which I won’t repeat suggesting a reason why Kevin Nolan was still on the pitch. When Kevin did finally get pulled off he was booed by many in the angry crowd. I briefly joined in the knee jerk reaction after yesterday’s match by agreeing that it was time for Sam’s time to come to an end but in the cold light of day I asked myself who would want to take over the job? The whole team is set-up for Andy Carroll with no sign of Andy Carroll. any new manager would have to carry on with the cards dealt to us.

In Nov 2011 at the event where I first met him he was asked the question: What 3 things make a great Football manager?

His answers then were:

1) Ambition: He claimed his ambition is greater than any club he has managed.

2) Job Satisfaction: A team that delivers what has been targeted by owners and fans.

3) Publicity: Someone who feels comfortable in the lime light and media pressure.

So what do we do with a problem like Big Sam? In the short term we back him and hope our fortunes turn very soon.

I will be going to the Season Ticket Fans Forum on 10th December to meet Mr Allardyce for a fourth time along with 400 fellow season ticket holders. I think Big Sam and Kevin Nolan will be in for a hard time on the 10th unless we beat both Fulham and Palace and give a go at winning at Anfield.

Keep calm and carry on Supporting West Ham

Talking Point

Big Sam has us Baffled

One of the most baffling decisions during our loss to Chelsea was that Big Sam did not utilise Carlton Cole at any point during the game. Iain’s game summary on the 4/6/0 formation backed up my theory two weeks ago that the system is not a workable one to use when playing at home. We need to play a minimum of one up top and with Carroll, Vaz Te and Petric injured that only leaves Maiga, Carlton Cole and Lee to choose from? Enough has been seen of Maiga already to realise he is way out of his depth so to bring him on after 40 minutes was baffling. Lee has returned from his loan deal at Colchester and to be honest I haven’t seen enough of him to make an appraisal. The few minutes he played on debut at Old Trafford earlier this year at least gave the impression he is not a target man. So that leaves Carlton Cole, after all, isn’t that why we gave him a short term contract until the end of the year – despite not being fully match fit. I was never a Carlton Cole fan but the move to get him back was based on the fact we could not get anyone else. However, Big Sam keeps on saying he is not match fit – so why not give him half an hour or more against Chelsea when the match result had slipped away from us? Why, with ten minutes to go did he bring on Matty Jarvis instead of Carlton? How is Carlton going to get match fit when he can’t even get a run under Saturday’s circumstances? That’s three questions in a row and whilst we might like to try and answer some of them, I really think Sam should be answering them for us.

It has been suggested that bringing Carlton back to the club was not what Sam wanted and it was David Sullivan’s choice. If that is the case it is an even sadder decision not to be playing him. Any truth in that scenario suggests that cracks will be widening in the relationship between owners and manager. The other tactic Sam has tried is playing Kevin Nolan for brief spells leading the line. Again, playing with your back to goal is not something you want to start doing at the end of your career, and to be fair to Kevin, it is something that is hardly going to work for him or anyone else who is not used to it.

So, in a nutshell, for the interim Sam has to play Carlton – like him or not. Many things are drifting away from Sam at the moment which is a shame. He has had two very good years at the club. If Andy Carroll was available at present I am sure we would not be in this predicament. However, the past few weeks have seen a number of players starting to drop their heads and just as importantly, the crowd is now starting to vent their frustrations at matches. I have been a fan of Big Sam at West Ham and I hope he pulls it all together. We shall see?

Match Report

Let's End This 4-6-0 Farce Now!

Click HERE to rate the performances of the players who played against Chelsea.

I hate it when I have to miss a home game, but boy am I glad I missed this one. I suspect I would have been done for speeding on the way home, as I would have taken out my frustration on my car’s accelerator. Think back a year to when we beat Chelsea an dhow proud we were of our team and compare that to the misery we feel this evening. No pride, no passion, precious little skill from a team shackled by a formation which just doesn’t work. And it needs to stop. If we don’t play with a striker the number of goals we will score will very limited. Kevin Nolan is not a striker. He was an embarrassment today. Quite why Maiga was then preferred to Carlton Cole only Sam Allardyce can fathom. He makes Iain Dowie look prolific.

The only two bright spots today were Stewart Downing and Ravel Morrison. The driving run Morrison made at the beginning of the second half was a joy to watch. Like Gazza in his prime. Downing was the only other persistent threat.

So what now? What do we do to beat Fulham. I’ll tell you what we do. We play 4-4-2 with Carlton Cole up front and Ravel Morrison playing off him. Diame and Noble play in central midfield with Jarvis and Downing on the wings. It certainly can’t be any worse than what we witnessed today.

Can it?

Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Chelsea

Please use this thread to comment on the match as it progresses.

Here’s the lineup Jaaskelainen, Nolan, Tomkins, Collison, Morrison, Noble, O’Brien, Collins, Demel, Downing, J.Cole
Subs: Adrian, McCartney, Jarvis, Maiga, Taylor, Diame, C.Cole

Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Chelsea

Last year’s equivalent fixture was possibly one of our best performances of the season. We left Chelsea reeling. If memory serves me correctly Maiga scored two goals. I doubt he will even be on the pitch this afternoon. What an absolute disappointment he has proved to be this season. I suspect this will be another strikerless lineup, as Carlton Cole has failed so far to prove he is worth a place in the starting lineup. But how much longer can we really go on for without playing with a striker? At some point I think Sam is going to have to bite the bullet and make a choice and stick with it. The 4-6-0 lineup looked like a masterstroke after the Spurs game, but since then it hasn’t worked at all. Perhaps we are starting to realise that Vaz Te meant more to us than we thought.

Jussi will be looking to prove that he isn’t a Joe Hart, and that his errors against Norwich were a one off. If not, Adrian may well be licking his lips in anticipation. The main selection dilemma is at left back where Rat is out and Joey O’Brien may not be fit. I think therefore that George McCartney may well return to the starting lineup after far too long on the sidelines. George has been very unlucky with injuries and it will be good to see him back if he gets the nod.

Up front, if that’s the right expression, it will be interesting to see which two Sam picks from our three wingers. Personally I would definitely pick Joe Cole because at least he knows where the goal is, unlike Jarvis or Downing, neither of whom can be said to be prolific.

People keep saying this is a good time to be playing Chelsea. I’m not so sure.

UPDATE: Here’s the lineup Jaaskelainen, Nolan, Tomkins, Collison, Morrison, Noble, O’Brien, Collins, Demel, Downing, J.Cole
Subs: Adrian, McCartney, Jarvis, Maiga, Taylor, Diame, C.Cole

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