When is enough, enough?
That is the question that West Ham fans might be asking themselves this week, as their club stands on the brink of what looks set to become yet another barren Premier League campaign.
A faltering pre-season program has seen the Hammers visit Australia - and return with their tails firmly between their legs following comfortable defeats to both Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC.
And a week to forget was capped off with the news that Andy Carroll will miss at least four months of next season with an ankle injury.
The bottom line is that the fans are disgruntled. And they are becoming more and more vociferous in their criticism of boss Sam Allardyce.
I think that this West Ham debacle makes one thing patently clear: modern football - and the expectations of modern football fans - are changing.
Where 'survival' was once the word on everyone's lips, 'progress' has now taken its place.
Whilst the former is something that Big Sam offers in abundance, the latter has been missing at Upton Park for some time.
Let's face it, West Ham are going nowhere fast with his approach to football. There is no long term strategy here, and the fans are ridiculed and criticised for daring to want more.
He really needs to take a leaf out of Wenger's book that despite a trophy-less run of 9 years the ever faithful still believed in his long term vision and bought into it because of the brand of football that was being delivered.
Yes, they stayed up last season. But they achieved that feat wielding a brand of football which was at best uninspiring, and at worst, unpalatable - and that just doesn't wash with the modern football fan anymore.
Following a backs to the wall display against Chelsea in January, Jose Mourinho called Allardyce's tactics 'medieval', and it's becoming quickly apparent that the fanbase don't want this guy to be their knight in shining armour for much longer.
It's easy to look back in hindsight, but the club putting all of their eggs in a fragile, Andy Carroll shaped basket last year was a huge mistake, which did Sam no favours.
A club like West Ham is not in a position to invest tens of millions in one player - but, nevertheless, kudos to the chairmen for backing their manager in his request. One thing's for sure, Allardyce can never say that he's not had support.
Of course, we all know what happened next. Plagued by a succession of injuries, Carroll figured less and less, leaving the Hammers woefully short of attacking options - and cash.
Once bitten, twice shy, they say. But Sam battled on, stubbornly fielding the hapless Modibo Maïga up top on his own for the first half of the campaign - a run which yielded a single goal from 14 appearances.
Indeed, when the Malian was loaned out to QPR in January, he still only managed one notch in eight outings, a spell which indicates just how far out of his depth he was up to that point.
This season? Well, with the help of the club's owners, Allardyce has again been busy in the transfer market - bagging two new strikers from South America, a pair of full-backs, and bolstering his midfield with the capture of Diego Poyet, Gus' son, and a real talent who I know well from my time at Charlton.
But despite those additions, an opening half a dozen games consisting meetings with Spurs, Palace, Southampton, Hull, Liverpool and Manchester United is not an easy one - and could knock the wind out of the Hammers before they even get going.
Indeed, even the most optimistic Upton Park regular might question where the Hammers will find points before October.
But ask the man himself, and he'll no doubt laugh it off. That's Sam Allardyce for you. He will be supremely confident in his ability to keep his club from the drop.
But to what end? The guy talks a great game - statistics, ProZone, the dynamics of fitness - but ultimately it's worth nothing when paired up with hack-it tactics.
Indeed, I'm not even sure that the stay up at any cost attitude still rings true in football nowadays. After all, parachute payments have ensured that any club making a fleeting one-season cameo in the top tier will leave much, much better off than when it arrived.
That gives a certain freedom. Take Sean Dyche and his Burnley side, for instance.
The Clarets stormed into the Premier League promised land at the end of last season, serving up a brand of expansive and enthralling football - and you can bet your bottom dollar that they won't change that approach for anyone next campaign.
If that means going straight back down? So be it. Use the experience, brush yourselves down and go again.
Whether you're playing Millwall or Manchester City, modern fans expect to see a certain calibre of football - and Allardyce knows that. Heck, he used to play it.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who remembers his attacking Bolton Wanderers side of yesteryear. Packed full of flair and trickery, the likes of Jay Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff wowing fans at the Reebok Stadium.
So what changed? Allardyce is a clever bloke, and he has carved out a real niche for himself as a survival specialist - but I can't help but think that his reputation might be so tarnished by the time that he leaves Upton Park, he might struggle to get another job in the top flight.
Well, who would take him? One thing's for sure, he doesn't have an equivalent in any other league in Europe. Such a style of play simply wouldn't be tolerated anywhere else.
In Spain, for example, even the smaller sides play with more ambition. High up the field, pressing with intent.
Allardyce's attitude? Well, if you want free-flowing football, head to Arsenal, or Chelsea, or even Leyton Orient.
It's a throwback attitude - and by bullishly clinging on to a bygone era, Allardyce is damaging not only West Ham and the Premier League, but the English game as whole.
It's the same stubborn streak which saw him attract heaps of abuse at Newcastle United, the same abuse which is now beginning to gather pace within the West Ham faithful, too.
Losing the fans is one thing. But losing his chairman could have disastrous consequences for Big Sam - and there are signs of cracks in the foundations of his relationship with the Hammers hierarchy.
Cracks which are growing bigger by the day. To the outsider, it appears that his time at the East London club could well be slowly coming to an end - it's just a matter of time.
Whilst ever his players can grind out the necessary results on the pitch, Allardyce might, just about, keep his head above water.
But week after week, the question on Hammers fans lips will remain: when is enough, enough?Suggest a correction