‘Outstanding’ West Ham led by new King of spin!
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce was adamant that West Ham were outstanding on Tuesday night, despite their 0-0 draw with lowly Bristol City
There are times when you wonder whether you have been to the same match as some people.
When Avram Grant spoke of all things West Ham last season you knew you had to take everything he said with a huge pinch of salt.
No-one was really sure whether he even believed what he was saying himself and his endless speeches claiming that all will come right in the end eventually led to the Hammers sleepwalking to relegation.
But not so big Sam Allardyce, surely? Surely we can trust the blunt Englishman to tell it how it is?
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The boos that rang out at Upton Park at the end of Tuesday night's dismal 0-0 draw against Bristol City were ridiculously harsh considering the position that West Ham are in and the injuries that have mounted.
But for the manager to then come into his press conference and tell everyone how magnificent his team was would rival anything that former Labour Party spin doctor Alastair Campbell has tried to convince the country of.
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"Was it harsh for the team to get booed? Absolutely 100 per cent yes," said Allardyce after the match. "I'm not hurt because that is what fans can do if we haven’t won a game they think we should, but they can't be disappointed in the performance.
"They can be disappointed with the result, but they can't be disappointed with the performance," he repeated.
Cant they? Too often during this game West Ham attempted to play the killer ball instead of playing the percentages and most of the time it saw them lose possession.
Mark Noble, the star of the previous two games, seemed convinced that every pass had to be slotted through the eye of a needle, while striker Sam Baldock hardly received a decent pass all night and Freddie Piquionne spent much of the evening either in midfield or on the wing.
Was it any wonder that the fans were frustrated? And not just because of the result.
"We played far better today than we did against Leicester, far, far better," insisted the manager. "That one we won 3-2, this one has ended 0-0.
"If you get 19 attempts on goal and 10 are on target, you would ultimately expect to win the game, but we haven't and that is frustrating.
"Nobody should deflect from the fact that if performances continue like that then we won’t lose many matches and we will win far more than we draw or lose."
Statistics are a big part of the Allardyce strategy, much as it was with Mr Campbell. Of course, statistics can be interpreted in many ways.
Those 10 shots on target – our Recorder statistician counted seven – included such efforts as Freddie Sears' trickle to the keeper and James Tomkins’ tame header.
There is also no mention of the fact that Bristol City came just as close with four shots on target and 14 efforts in all on the night.
"Today wasn’t an outstanding result because we deserved to win, but it was an outstanding performance," said Allardyce.
Few walking up Green Street on Tuesday night could have agreed with those sentiments. Victory at Brighton last week showed Allardyce at his tactical best, but he seemed unable to find the answer here.
"The Brighton game was away from home," said the manager.
"That's tactically sucking the opposition in and punishing them. Part of my job is weighing up the opposition and setting the team up so we can be tactically better than they are.
"That’s why I have been here for 20 years doing this job, because I'm good at it."
Few would disagree with that and fans are delighted with the way things have gone so far this season.
The team sit in second place, have a squad that has strength in depth and the ability to take this title.
But the supporters are also not stupid. Boos may have been misplaced on Tuesday night, but the fans know when their team have not performed well and that was the case against Bristol City.
If the manager thinks that performance was 'outstanding' what superlative will he look for when they actually do put on a show?