West Ham practising penalties every day as nothing is left to chance
West Ham are looking to cover every eventuality in the play-off final on Saturday at Wembley, with daily practice of penalties on the training ground
The last time that Sam Allardyce went to Wembley, his Bolton team were beaten on penalties in the FA Cup semi-final against Aston Villa.
That’s why this time round he is taking nothing to chance.
“We are practising penalties every single day,” revealed the manager as West Ham build up to Saturday’s play-off final with Blackpool.
“We have a five in mind to take them and we will keep on practising, but of course, it is nothing like taking them under the pressure of a cup final at Wembley.
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“That sort of situation is as hard as it can get.”
Allardyce gave his players a few days off to recharge the batteries after the semi-final victory over Cardiff City and he has seen the benefit of that.
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“They have come back and they look relaxed which is what we wanted, though things have been a bit tentative on the training ground when it comes to tackling, which I suppose is understandable,” he said.
“We have to work out how we are going to play things on Saturday, look at what worked against Blackpool before and then later in the week decide on one or two players which way we are going to go. It will be a difficult choice.
“I have got most of the team in mind and the way we have been playing in recent weeks, most of it picks itself really.”
Allardyce was at St Andrew’s last week to see Blackpool book their place in the final at the expense of Birmingham City and he expects an exciting final.
“I think it could be a very open game on Saturday. We are scoring a lot of goals at the moment and Blackpool are certainly free-scoring as well so it could be really exciting,” said the manager.
“If it is open, I think it will suit both teams, but I am confident that we can come out on top.”
The experience of Allardyce will hopefully calm the younger players in the West Ham ranks this weekend, but the expectation on his team means it is not a game that he will enjoy.
“If you win at Wembley it is absolutely magnificent, but if you lose it is as devastating as anything in football,” he said.
“The difference between the two is so huge and it all rests on one day so it is not something I can enjoy.
“If we win, then I can reflect on a job well done, but on the day itself, in the build-up and during the game, it will be terrible for me.”
Hopefully it won’t be terrible for the fans too and if it comes to the dreaded penalties, then it seems West Ham will be fully prepared.