Sam Allardyce: A West Ham United Love Story
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Up until that incredible victory over their local rivals and the Champions League holders Chelsea, some supporters still doubted if "Big Sam" was the right man for the job. On Saturday, he got emphatic thumbs up from all sides of the ground.
Whatever was said in the dressing room during the interval—though the majority of it probably cannot be repeated to a family audience—it lead to a rejuvenated West Ham side emerging victorious after dominating their multimillionaire London cousins.
Their second half-time performance will go down as one of the finest witnessed in the modern day history of this famous club, with the deafening roar at the final whistle sending a shiver down the spine of even the most hardened supporter.
And who was the man who masterminded that comeback and now deserves the respect of every West Ham fan? Sam Allardyce.
The West Ham Supporters/Allardyce love story has been a tempestuous one, with the latter attempting to win over the former.
When he was first announced as the new Hammers manager in 2011, some were concerned that his style of football would not suit the West Ham ethos. Despite just being relegated to The Championship, supporters greeted his appointment with a lukewarm reception, doubting Allardyce had the credentials to follow in the footsteps of Ron Greenwood and Harry Redknapp.
It was a taxing first season for the former Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle manager, during which he has felt the wrath of the club's fans for his playing style and erratic home results. Even successfully guiding West Ham back to the Premier League was apparently still not enough to gain acceptance.
He once said, "as a manager, you accept that you need a double skin: a rhino's skin and an elephant's skin to survive in the job," and that attitude allowed him to ride out the rough periods during his West Ham tenure. Whilst the fans voiced their concern about the short-term, the thick-skinned Big Sam looked beyond the jeers—a blueprint that culminated in Saturday's sensation victory against Chelsea.
It was just not the result, but the manner of victory, that meant Allardyce finally got to consummate his West Ham marriage.
Allardyce’s saga yet again proves that patience is a virtual in the world of football management. With the axe coming down on many of the managerial fraternity, Big Sam will not be divorcing his West Ham bride anytime soon—unless Real Madrid or Inter Milan come calling.
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