Whenever West Ham lose a game, Sam Allardyce's critics come out in force, criticising his direct tactics and lack of a Plan B. It may seem harsh to want Big Sam out after guiding the Hammers back to the Premier League at the first time of asking and lifting them to 10th last season, but it is becoming abundantly clear that it may be even more difficult for the East London club if he doesn't go sooner rather than later.
Records show that the season after Allardyce left his former clubs, Bolton, Blackburn and Newcastle, was far worse than when he was in charge and this could happen again at West Ham if he stays too long.
The capture of Andy Carroll last summer was seen as an excellent piece of business and there is no doubting the big number 9's ability. He is unplayable in the air, has incredible control with his chest and can give even the best of defenders a hard time. The inclusion of Matt Jarvis and Stuart Downing made fans drool at the thought of every cross being headed in by their £15m target man. This, however, has not been the case.
The direct style of play can be very effective, you only have to look at Stoke to see that a team can become an established Premier League side with a similar style of play to that which Allardyce implements, but West Ham fans share far more ambition than sitting mid-table for years on end.
The longer Big Sam is in charge, the worse it is for the Hammers as he will continue to purchase players and train individuals to play in this set-up. If he does leave after an extended period of time, then the players will need a long transitional period as they attempt to forget the style of play that was forced upon them. It is difficult to see how Carroll will succeed if a more intricate passing game is introduced, but the longer he plays in this one up front system, the harder it will be to undo it. Furthermore, if youth players are introduced, the promising talent that we have seen in our development side will grow up playing a very specific style of football, something that they may never be able to recover from. We only have to look at Ravel Morrison this season. He was turning out to be one of West Ham's top players before being loaned out to QPR as if it was nothing. He simply didn't fit into Allardyce's style.
The Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll pairing that Allardyce swears by is clearly far less effective than expected and perhaps a smaller, more agile striker would be more fitting to play alongside Carroll as most of his flick-ons this season have ended up at the feet of the opposition.
Tactics aside, it is fair to say that Allardyce has almost entirely lost the support of the Upton Park faithful, with fans even booing a victory against Hull due to an aesthetically poor display. The lack of respect Big Sam often shows the fans will not help his cause, cupping his ear in response to the boos and calling them deluded earlier in the season.
Allardyce is a stubborn man and if something works in his head, then he will implement it on the pitch. Of course, it is completely ridiculous to expect an established manager to dramatically alter his tactics because fans are upset with how 'pretty' the football may or may not be, but if he stays in charge the fans will continue to grow frustrated.
With the London club due to move into the Olympic Stadium in two seasons, West Ham need to have all of the fans on their side, as an empty stadium will do nothing for the club's reputation or financial status. David Gold and David Sullivan have made their support for Allardyce very clear, but respect for them has declined as a result.
Unfortunately, if Allardyce leaves then a number of players he has brought in, Matty Taylor, George McCartney, Kevin Nolan, would probably follow him when a new manager comes in. The fans might want a change in personnel, but with such a dramatic change, do the club have the funds to replace all of the positions vacated?
Ultimately, there will always be a for and against argument regarding whether Sam Allardyce should stay or go, but the potential problems that would worsen the longer he stays, mean that those who oppose him have very valid grounds for concern. He will continue to lose support from the all important 12th man and the transition period will be greater the longer he is in charge. It is a very important few months for West Ham as it appears unlikely that he will leave, but if the chairmen listen to the fans as they have always stated they would, perhaps they will see sense before it is too late.
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