THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

5 April ~ The uneasy truce which has existed between Sam Allardyce and many West Ham fans has become increasingly strained over the past few weeks. Defeat against Barnsley in the Good Friday clash could break it all together. After losing to Reading last Saturday, the Hammers’ hopes of automatic promotion are all but gone. Although a place in the play-offs is secure, the six matches between now and the end of the season could go a long way to defining the future of the club. The marriage between Allardyce and West Ham was always going to be a tricky one to manage for both sides. From the start it was clear that Allardyce was going to do things his own way and not play the "West Ham way".

That style of play is one that fans of the club have seen only in brief glimpses over the past 20 years. During his time at Upton Park, Allardyce has often played with just one striker and it is clear his players have been told to get the ball from back to front in the shortest time possible. While he was winning it didn’t matter. The problem was that Allardyce had no credit in the bank and when things started to go wrong, as they have in recent weeks – a slump in form coincided with Reading’s surge up the table – he had nothing to offer the fans that would buy him a bit of time.

As the season reaches its finale, Allardyce will have to contend with a volatile crowd as well as a squad that seems to struggle in the big matches. On at least five occasions this season the Hammers have gone into a match knowing victory would send them top of the table. They failed in all but one game. They have also developed a habit of conceding crucial goals in the dying moments of games. These factors make fans nervous at the prospects of the play-offs.

For West Ham to succeed in the end-of-season shootout it will be crucial to go into them on a decent run of form, starting at Oakwell. The Tykes appear safe from relegation and the Hammers’ form has been significantly better away from home this season, so three points should be achievable. But with play-off chasing Birmingham, Brighton and Hull all still to visit Upton Park, that end of season bounce which could propel the Hammers back into the Premier League might be hard to come by. Mark Segal

Comments (5)
Comment by geobra 2012-04-05 14:48:04

I know that times have changed, but when West Ham were in the old Division 2 between 1978 and 1981 they didn't alter their style. As a result, the fans had three enjoyable seasons, especially the last two, and the 1980-81 team that ran away with the league was arguably one of the best in the club's history - maybe as good as the one that finished third in Division 1 in 1985-86. Of course there wasn't the sense then that relegation was something to be ashamed of or a financial disaster. Somehow I don't think they would keep players like Brooking, Bonds, Devonshire and Martin today, nor do I think that a goalkeeper of Phil Parkes's quality would have dropped a division to join them.

Ms Brady says that if West Ham don't go up, Allardyce will not lose his job. The fans have every right to be worried if this is true.

Comment by Karlheinz Riedle 2012-04-05 19:27:39

I've seen West Ham play against Fulham about ohhhhh...seven times, and never seen this famous 'West Ham way'. All I remember is niggling fouls off the ball and absolutely brutal tackling from whoever was in centre midfield that day - mostly Scott Parker and Mark Noble both of whom are, in my opinion, two of the most thuggish players I have seen, barring Wilkinson, Shawcross and Co. at the Brittania. Grant's West Ham side, for instance, beat us (Fulham, I might point out, who in recent years have had a monopoly on attractive football if I do say so myself, until Swansea came along)3-1, with two goals coming from long balls pumped into the box, whilst a couple of seasons before that, Nolberto Solano scored the most illegal goal I have ever seen - he was offside by a yard, fouled the keeper and handballed it into the net! All in the 89th minute. And Howard Webb sent off our player for protesting.

Maybe I'm being spiteful, but do please excuse me if I find the phrase "West Ham Way"(tm) more than a little grating. As I see it is a marketing ploy that has little basis (in recent seasons at least) in reality.

Comment by geobra 2012-04-05 20:04:08

Only those who started watching West Ham in the 60s and have continued to do so ever since can say how much and for how long the so-called 'West Ham way' survived the sacking of John Lyall in 1989. I last saw them in a dreadful 2-0 home defeat to Wimbledon in 1993, so I'm hardly one to pass an opinion. However I will - I think Karlheinz Riedle is almost certainly right, and I'm pretty sure too that the label doesn't help the team one bit. Again I can only guess, but I suspect that only Zola of recent managers tried to get them to play the kind of football the club is supposedly famous for. And I still think that if he hadn't been sacked they would have had a better chance of staying up. How anybody could think that Avram Grant would be an improvement is beyond me.

Comment by nizza 2012-04-07 20:22:54

As a Bolton fan who saw the best and worst of Big Sam at the Reebok, it should be remembered that he was responsible for 4 consecutive top 8 finishes and qualification for europe twice.
Wheteher you like his style or not, you can't deny he gets a job done, when given the chance. At Newcastle he was not.
We are currently at the dog end of our 5th consecutive relegation battle since he left, and will be very lucky if we survive again.
I remember watching West Ham on TV as a kid. Mid week cup games. Martin Peters, Pop Robson etc and I enjoyed watching it. They were good to watch, but in those days we only saw the highlights anyway. I have seen very little when watching West Ham over the last few years to distinguish them from any other team. I have come to the conclusion that the 'West Ham Way' is either a road leading to the Boleyn Ground or an invention of the southern obsessed media, who were so appalled at the end of the 01/02 season, at the prospect of those uncouth Northerners (BWFC) staying in the top flight at the expense of the 'The academy of Football'.

Comment by geobra 2012-04-11 14:54:59

On the other hand those who are unhappy with Allardyce's style of play must be comparing it with something that for them was better. Maybe not 'The West Ham Way', but superior to 'The Allardyce Way'.

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