West Ham manager’s execution turns into celebration
14:51 05 May 2014
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce may have been saved by his players after the superb win over Tottenham
To paraphrase William Shakespeare, ‘they came to bury Big Sam, not praise him’. The knives were out, the banners were undoubtedly ready and the scribes in the press box were poised to deliver the execution notice, but something strange happened at Upton Park on Saturday – West Ham were magnificent!
With the added spice of a clash with Tottenham, the Hammers attacked from the start. They won tackles, their passes found men in claret and blue, they took on their opponents and they looked as if they were going to score a hatful of goals.
That it was only 2-0 against 10-man Spurs is irrelevant, this is the performance that West Ham fans have been crying out for and by the end there was no chants of derision about manager Sam Allardyce, just cheers for him and the team as they went round on their lap to thank the fans.
What a difference a week is in football. Had the Hammers wavered on Saturday and perhaps gone behind then the wrath of the fans would have been unleashed on the under-fire manager and the owners may have crumbled under the pressure and finally removed him.
They still might, come the end of the season, but this performance gave Allardyce more than a stay of execution, it gave him huge credibility at his tactics and a fighting chance of leading West Ham into the promised land of the Olympic Stadium in 2016.
“One week it’s not so good when you’re not playing well and people sound their disapproval which they are entitled to do,” said a delighted Allardyce. “But they do get behind you when they’ve got something to get behind. They didn’t stop singing all the way through the game.”
How the manager got the players up for the battle on Saturday must be greatly to his credit. The decision to bring back Matt Taylor was a masterstroke as he and Mark Noble ran the midfield, but from the early sliding tackle by Noble, it was apparent that West Ham were not playing with any fear out there, despite four defeats on the trot.
“It was a great start,” he said. “I know they went down to 10 men, but to take full advantage of that made it a fantastic day.
“It was a great performance in our last home game and to send the fans home happy. They were right behind the team from start to finish because they knew the team was playing well and deserved victory.”
Younes Kaboul’s sending off after fouling Stewart Downing on the edge of the box was the correct decision, even to Spurs boss Tim Sherwood and West Ham took full advantage as first Andy Carroll’s header was diverted into his own net by Harry Kane and then Downing himself fired one through the wall to make it 2-0.
In truth, it could have been so many more. Taylor was twice denied by superb Hugo Lloris saves, Carroll saw his free kick spectacularly tipped over, Guy Demel hit the bar, Mo Diame’s stunning overhead kick was saved, Kevin Nolan saw another effort stopped at point-blank range, while even George McCartney went close at the far post.
“In the end, but for Lloris I think it would have been far more than 2-0,” said the manager. “But 2-0 is more than satisfying for us against a team who were fighting to be in the Champions League. To manage to beat them here again and do the double over them is a great thing for us.”
It certainly is. West Ham are safe in the Premier League and for the moment Allardyce is safe in the Upton Park hot-seat. As Shakespeare said: All’s well that ends well!