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West Ham’s Macca: No arguments, just heated debates!

West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce (left) with assistant manager Neil McDonald in the dugout West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce (left) with assistant manager Neil McDonald in the dugout

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
9:00 AM

Allardyce assistant lifts lid on life on West Ham

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Brian Clough had Peter Taylor, for Arsene Wenger it was Pat Rice, while Sir Alex Ferguson and Brian Kidd forged an important partnership too.

And it is the same at West Ham, where Sam Allardyce and assistant Neil McDonald seem inseperable.

Five years at Bolton, two at Blackburn and now in their third season at Upton Park, the pair have gone from strength to strength, but their partnership almost didn’t come about at all.

“I didn’t know him before I went to Bolton,” said the 48-year-old McDonald. “I had an interview to be first team coach and he always likes to tell me that I was rubbish and third on the list!

“Then he made the three coaches do a session with the lads and they were raving about me and so I got the job on coaching ability rather than interview skills.”

So how does it work between the two of them? Is it a dictatorship?

“I am certainly not a yes man,” said ‘Macca’.

“I have my own ideas and Sam encourages everyone to have their say and then he will decide.

“As a coach, you have your own philosophy, but at the same time there is only one philosophy and that is the manager’s.

“We don’t have arguments, maybe heated discussions!” he adds with a wry smile. “He has always said if you believe something, state your case and we have had discussions where I have stood my ground.

“You have to be careful sometimes and know your place, I certainly know he is the manager and makes the decisions.”

McDonald has had a varied coaching career. He was looking after a team in the north east called West Allotment Celtic when he was just 17, while his first job as Preston youth coach saw them reach the quarter-final of the FA Youth Cup.

After coaching at Bolton under Allardyce and Crystal Palace under Iain Dowie he became manager of Carlisle United.

But after a successful season, he was then sacked after just one game of the 2007/08 campaign.

“It was a strange one,” he said. “We had finished eighth in my first season, the attendances were the highest for 27 years, but after drawing 1-1 in the first game of the new season, I was sacked on the Monday.

“I have never really had that explained to me.”

A short and successful period at Swedish club Ostersunds was followed by spells with Peter Jackson at Lincoln City and Gary McAllister at Leeds United before he was reunited with Allardyce at Blackburn and then West Ham.

It is a partnership that seems to work, but just how long it will continue is unclear.

“I want to have another go at management,” he added. “I am capable of doing that, but I am really, really enjoying what I am doing at the moment.

“If Sam was to leave for any reason I would certainly want the West Ham job. Anybody would want to be a manager of such a fantastic football club.

“But I am happy in the position I am in at the moment. I am getting a lot of enjoyment working with these players alongside the gaffer and the other staff.”

Hammers fans are enjoying his contribution too. Long may it continue.

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