Talking Point

The Time is Now For a Decision on Big Sam

For those of you that follow me on Twitter, you will know I have regularly backed Sam. I have written articles on it and have tweeted how I think he is has done a good job for us. He got us promoted in our first season down with a squad that had all its confidence and unity destroyed by the previous management. He then got us a 10th place finish in the premiership which was great for our first season back but perhaps it was this overachievement which lead to some of the problems this season.

I really am losing my faith at the moment and think we have to act fast. If we are to dismiss the manager it has to be now at the start of the window where a new man can come in and make a difference to the squad and bring in his own players. I am really worried that this season is beginning to replicate the disastrous Avram Grant reign. There are many similarities: beating Tottenham, Semi Finals of the League Cup, our main summer signing picking up a long term injury and the underperformance of the club captain being one of many.

I really hope I am not over reacting on the back of the defeat against Fulham but I have been thinking this for a while. Firstly we played a team who had just lost their last game 6-0 to Hull. I accept it was a changed line up but this is the sort of team we should really be going out to attack right from the start as their confidence would be very fragile. Let’s also take into account that we didn’t have any fit central defenders anyway so we couldn’t really hope to defend too well, so attack was the best form of defence. So for me he had to go with two up front in this game and he didn’t. We have a complete over reliance on one tactic which is largely based around a fit Andy Carroll of course which we don’t have!

Carlton Cole should have started this game. We all know he has dodgy knees and that fitness can be an issue for him. He was however subbed off against WBA and so could have been started today. He has a great scoring record against Fulham, which their defenders and fans would have been aware of, so they were probably delighted he was on the bench. I would have started with him and Maiga up top.

The other concerning issue for me to come out of the Fulham game is the Kevin Nolan situation. Our captain had a good game against WBA and I hoped he would build on it. This season he has really struggled, admittedly he plays better off a big target man but the bottom line is there has been games when he should not have been selected to start or should have been subbed off earlier. Sam clearly sees Nolan has his most important player and his voice on the pitch. I saw someone on twitter describe him as “a manager in a kit” which I thought did sum up a lot of his games this season. Sam and the club have been badly let down by our “leader” today. What Kevin Nolan did today is quite simply appalling from a club captain in such a crucial game! When the manager is let down that badly by his captain you have to question what is actually going on at the club.

We then have the off pitch problem with James Tomkins and apparent bust ups with players, the latest apparently being Ravel Morrison. How much of this is Sam’s fault?!, I don’t know, but one thing for certain at the moment is that there is a lot of negative press going around about the club at the moment. A new man could certainly change that in the short term.

There is the summer gamble of putting “all our eggs in one basket” – a quote attributed to David Gold when buying Andy Carroll. I wanted us to sign him and was delighted when we did. What I don’t understand is how he passed a medical when he was apparently injured in the last game of the season! This is not necessarily Sam’s fault but our failure to land another striker has been a huge problem. I love Carlton Cole and am delighted he is back and scoring but the whole situation of him being released and then being brought back was a bit embarrassing for everyone involved.

Sam has been extremely unlucky with injuries without doubt, some referring decisions and players underperforming. Not all the blame can be put solely at Sam’s feet and I do feel for him at times and I am not really convinced on what the alternative is.

It just seems to me that in recent weeks it appears it is going to be very hard to turn this situation around. The keeper rotation of recent weeks was very odd in my opinion too as neither’s confidence could have been particularly helped by being dropped for games. I am not sure what was really gained by those decisions. I have already mentioned the defensive tactic today was a surprise but the team sheet was too. The midfield just didn’t set up right for me today and in my opinion Jarvis had a great game against WBA. He should have started today to build on the last performance.

I am probably speaking from my heart and not my head here. I think Sam has done a very good job for us and if he leaves tomorrow I will be grateful for what he has done for the club. I just feel the chairmen have a very important decision to make now and hiding behind “it will cost too much to sack him” is not an acceptable excuse. It will cost us far more if we get relegated I can assure them of that! One things for certain I couldn’t have predicted we would be in such a bad way at this point of the season, I had us down to finish 8th!! I hate speaking about the club I love in such a negative way but I really needed a medium to vent my frustrations and hope to report on more positive things in future weeks on here and my twitter account where I try to bring up to date transfer news!

Player Analysis

What Should Be Done About Kevin Nolan?

Click HERE to rate the performances of the players who played at Fulham.

Let us remind ourselves that in their last match Fulham lost 6-0 to Hull. We scored after 7 minutes. And then…

This is what I tweeted after 44 minutes of the match…

What on earth was he thinking? This was only his second match after coming back from a three match ban having been sent off against Liverpool for another needless attack on a Liverpool player. As a 31 year old and as team captain, should he not know better?

That tweet got a massive reaction and was retweeted several hundred times. And this was on my normal twitter feed – @IainDale -, not just my West Ham one – @IainDaleWestHam. Many people are calling for him to be stripped of the captaincy and even for him never to play for the club again.

That reaction is understandable not least because this was a game we should have won, even with a makeshift side. Credit to the players for the way they rallied in the second half, but the fact remains that we remain second from bottom.

There are of course also calls again for Sam Allardyce to be sacked. We are told that he is the best man to get us out of our difficulties, but the fact is, he is the manager who put us there in the first place. If you want to sack a manager you have to be pretty sure there is someone better out there to put in his place. Remember what happened when Terry Brown got rid of Harry Redknapp? We ended up with Glen Roeder. I don’t see an obvious replacement out there, much as though I’d like there to be.

Kevin Nolan should be fined the maximum amount possible and be publicly rebuked by his manager. He should issue a televised abject apology and the captaincy should now be transferred to Mark Noble. Except that it seems Mark will now be out for a while too, having picked up a calf injury. This season just gets worse and worse…

UPDATE: Watch Sam Allardyce’s post match interview with Sky. He labels Nolan “irresponsible to say the very least”.

Player Performance - Vote

Vote: Player Performances v Fulham

Click HERE to rate the performances of the players who played at Fulham.

Match Thread

Match Thread: Fulham v West Ham

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

Jaaskelainen, McCartney, Nolan ©, Collison, Maiga, Taylor, Noble, O’Brien, Diarra, Demel, Diame
Subs Adrian, Jarvis, Rat, Downing. C.Cole, J.Cole, Potts

I’m assuming this is how they will line up. Weird team.

Demel, Diarra, McCartney, O’Brien
Noble, Nolan, Collison
Diame, Maiga, Taylor

Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v West Bromwich Albion

Upton Park
K.O 3pm
Referee: Jonathan Moss
TV: None
Radio: BBC Radio London

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

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