Allardyce: Doncaster will not be a culture shock for West Ham stars
West Ham’s Premier League stars must get over the culture shock of travelling to Doncaster Rovers rather than beginning a Premier League campaign on Saturday if they are to get the result they need.
That is the view of manager Sam Allardyce, who tasted victory with Bolton Wanderers at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium back in 2007 when they thumped them 4-0 in the FA Cup.
The legend has it that West Ham’s trip to Rotherham back at the start of the 2003 season was such a culture shock that the Hammers players chose to change on the coach rather than risk the portakabins that had been put up at Millmoor.
But Allarcyce believes that this trip to south Yorkshire on Saturday will not be as big an eye-opener for the Hammers stars as it might have been.
“Going to Doncaster is about your mentality,” said the manager. “We are at a smaller venue, but it is a very nice one. It’s not as if you are going to some of the old grounds that used to be there, particularly like Doncaster a few years ago where they had one stand boarded up because it had been deemed unfit for supporters.
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“That would be difficult for a player who has been in the Premier League to motivate themselves to play at, but the Doncaster stadium will be nearly full, it is a very well designed ground, the pitch is good this time of year, so you’ve really got no excuses.”
West Ham go into the game having lost their opening encounter last Sunday against Cardiff City and the manager admitted that has put added pressure on the team.
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“What we have done is put a huge amount of pressure on us to get three points as early as game two after losing to Cardiff,” said Allardyce.
“I think the players had a good learning curve on what life is going to be like on Sunday with the fact that Championship teams generally spend a huge amount of time and energy making sure you can’t play compared with the Premier League.
“I always think that because we are West Ham with our reputation, that all players who play against us try their very hardest and that is something we have to deal with as well.”
Another thing Allardyce must do is solve the problems West Ham have had with their away form in recent seasons.
“The away form has been worse than poor,” he admitted. “We do have to overcome the away day blues at West Ham. It has been a big, big problem over the last couple of years, though that was in the Premier League, but we still have to address it.”
West Ham will be hot favourites to win the match, but Allardyce knows that it will not be easy.
“The chairman and Sean O’Driscoll have done an outstanding job and as always do not get the credit they actually deserve,” he said. “For such a small club to stay in the Championship for as long as they have is a regular and constant overachievement.
“I watched them at Brighton on Saturday and, a bit like us really, they were very unfortunate to lose that game.”