Following a magnificent victory over Premier League runners-up Liverpool last weekend, West Ham fans were on a high. Not only were they happy that their new signings have hit the ground running, but also, somewhat surprisingly, with Sam Allardyce.
However, ever since his introduction a few years back, when the Hammers were relegated to the Championship and desperate for an immediate return, fans were concerned that their beloved side would fall victim to Big Sam's 'ugly' style of football.
He did win promotion, albeit via the play-offs and finished 10th in his first season back in the top flight. West Ham fans might not have been enjoying the football, but they were more than happy with the way in which they recovered from relegation and what was almost administration.
The problems came about last season when West Ham finished 13th, a position that does not fully reflect how close the East London side came to relegation. Allardyce constantly stated that results were more important than entertainment, but when neither seemed even the slightest bit plausible, fans wanted him out and rightly so.
He brought in a wealth of players over the summer, all of whom have hit the ground running in their first few games in claret and blue, the likes of Diafra Sakho and Cheikhou Kouyate particularly impressing.
Pre-season was embarrassing, there is no other word for it. Losses to sides who struggle in the Australian League and a severe lack of goals left fans concerned that they would have to endure another hair-greying season. However, pre-season is only pre-season, as they say and five games in that is abundantly clear.
West Ham have been a joy to watch for most of the new season, bar one hiccup against Southampton, who have also been excellent. What is even more surprising, is that even neutral fans have taken notice at how a manager with such outdated ways has been able to rally his squad to play some genuinely thrilling football.
The biggest changes are those that only long-suffering fans may have noticed. The way that defensive duo James Tomkins and Winston Reid desperately try to pass the ball out of defence rather than hoofing it away and thinking after. The drastic increase in movement off the ball, allowing creative midfielders Mark Noble and Stewart Downing to play fantastic through passes. And possibly most significantly, the link-up play between more than one forward, allowing the likes of Sakho, Enner Valencia and Mauro Zarate freedom in a previously rigid front line that was centered around a big target man.
The squad is clearly much improved from that of the last few seasons, but much of the credit, although it pains many to admit, must go to Sam Allardyce. Bringing in an attacking coach in Teddy Sheringham, although likely suggested by David Gold and David Sullivan, was a master-stroke.
He has received somewhat of a blessing in disguise in Andy Carroll's thousandth injury, as he has had to change the system, allowing him to restore faith, excitement and joy to a lacklustre side that was destined to remain teetering on the brink of relegation until his sacking.
The summer signings have been arguably some of the best in the Premier League if you consider their price and contribution so far. The win against Liverpool capped off a number of performances where West Ham have been the better side, but maybe haven't got the result they were after.
The question is, can the Hammers continue to impress and if so, will fans get behind their manager as a collective?
Sam Allardyce is an easy man to hate. He has lacked respect for the West Ham fans over the past two seasons, even calling them deluded at one stage, but there is no denying that he looks to have pulled off the impossible at the London club.
Big Sam has done exactly what has been asked of him and fans can now look forward to every game, something that has not been true for a long time.
So after all of this, has he done enough to win over even his biggest critics, or is it still too early to tell?
For mroe fan views and opinion visit www.ftbpro.comSuggest a correction