Upton Park

Next Game

West Ham v Chelsea

Wednesday, 04 March 2015, 19:45

Barclays Prem

Upton Park

Last Game

West Ham 1 - 3 C Palace

Saturday, 28 February 2015, 12:45

Barclays Prem

Big Sam is back

The West Ham boss has endured a miserable run but Matt Stanger saw positive signs at Cardiff.

Last Updated: 11/01/14 at 19:10

As West Ham fans boarded the away coaches for the long journey to Cardiff in the early hours of Saturday morning, they could have been forgiven for fearing the worst. Two heavy cup defeats in the space of a week had compounded the bleak mood around the club with the team floundering in 19th in the league and Sam Allardyce's future hanging in the balance. A third loss on the spin would surely have sealed the manager's fate.

But there is a reason Allardyce has been spared the sack despite the rest of the bottom five all removing their managers in the first half of the season. Were he available when West Ham's four rivals opted for change, he would surely have led the list of potential replacements given his renowned ability to win a relegation battle. Allardyce may have got West Ham into this mess, but he is also the best man to get them out of it.

That was evident in the 2-0 win on Saturday as Cardiff's hopes for an immediate recovery under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were quickly extinguished. There was none of the 'Allardici' nonsense about the Hammers' starting line-up on this occasion as a four-man defence was protected by a five-man midfield, with Carlton Cole selected as a lone target-man in attack. It was back to basics, backs to the wall and back to the sort of performance required to avoid the drop.

Cardiff had seven shots on target against West Ham but rarely tested Adrian

Never a man who is easy to love, Big Sam's biggest problem this season has been an emotional detachment from his role. Following Andre Villas-Boas' sacking at Spurs, Allardyce spoke of his reluctance to form a bond with the Hammers after his treatment by Newcastle and Blackburn, but the troubles of the past seven days have rekindled the fire in his belly. "You either come out fighting or you sink and die," he said after the defeat to Manchester City. "I come out fighting as a manager and my staff and players are the same."

The rallying cry certainly worked as the Hammers exhibited a battling spirit that has been missing in recent weeks and showed heartening resolve to resist Cardiff pressure in the second half. After a statuesque Allardyce barely blinked when Cole put the Hammers ahead before the break, co-commentator Trevor Francis said: "I think there would have been greater emotion if that goal had been scored in the 91st minute." It was a prophetic statement, as Mark Noble's injury-time strike left Allardyce jumping for joy on the touchline.

Andy Carroll's role in Mark Noble's late goal showed what an attacking outlet he can be for West Ham

There was much for the manager to celebrate, not least Andy Carroll's return from injury to make his first appearance of the season as a second-half substitute. In truth, it was a difficult cameo for the striker, but his involvement in Noble's goal underlined what the Hammers have been missing. Suddenly Matt Jarvis and Stewart Downing have a better option to aim at from the flanks, while Kevin Nolan, if he can be trusted to keep his cool, can return to sniffing out the knock-downs that enabled him to reach double figures in top-flight goals last season.

Allardyce will also have been encouraged to see his team return to the top of the Premier League clean sheets table with their ninth of the season and first in eight matches, but his defensive concerns were equally exacerbated by an injury to Guy Demel and James Tomkins' red card. With Winston Reid still on the sidelines with an ankle injury, the manager could be forced to dip into the transfer market again, this time hoping to capture more quality than the limited Roger Johnson.

If reports are to be believed, David Gold and David Sullivan will back Allardyce with funds in January to plug the gaps in his fragile squad, but the manager needed a performance to prove he is worthy of their faith. Not only was that achieved on the pitch at Cardiff, but Allardyce's renewed ebullience is certain to help him curry favour. This was the Big Sam of old, and it was exactly what the Hammers needed to ease their fears after a nightmare week.

Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

W

e'll be fine, no problem. If they do get relegated, he's definitely going to ask how anyone could ever have thought that Villa were going to be fine given their problems before he came.

treeman1
Premier League Winners And Losers

S

toke though. Hmn. I don't think it was defending that made people dislike Stoke so much as the out and out cheating/nastiness they regularly displayed. That, and they kept buying the odd flair player and then ruining them (Oh! Tuncay, what were you thinking?).

megabrow (cufc)
Being Defensive About Being Defensive...

W

ell that really inspires me with confidence. No point in training, deciding on a coherent formation, or playing players in their best positions, let's just hope we get lucky.

mumbo_jimbo
Van Gaal: Luck is key

Footer 365

Chelsea captain John Terry says he is fighting to earn a new contract at Stamford Bridge

John Terry says he is fighting to earn a new contract at Chelsea and does not see himself ever playing for another club.

FA planning to send men's and women's GB teams to 2016 Olympics

FA are planning to send men's and women's Great Britain teams to compete in the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio.

Tottenham announce that legend and former captain Dave Mackay has died

Tottenham have announced that their former captain Dave Mackay has died. He was 80.

Mail Box

Henderson The Best Midfielder In PL?

Jordan Henderson is named by two afternoon Mailboxers as the PL's best midfielder, while another suggests Man United are trying to emulate Barca...

Jose Settles Most Boring Team Debate...

There's lots of reaction to Chelsea and Liverpool's wins on Sunday, plus one Mailboxer asking: Who is the Premier League's best midfielder?

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company