Early this week, recently relegated West Ham United signed former Bolton and Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce with hopes of returning to the EPL as quickly as possible.
Big Sam lost his position at Blackburn on December 13 of 2010 amidst controversy and speculation. The team sat 13th in the table, not the best position, but certainly better than where the Rovers finished the 2010-11 season.
Perhaps Allardyce’s style proved too much for the new owners. A noted presence, Allardyce does not tolerate meddling or interference on the part of any party beyond the reach of a club’s players and coaching and managerial staff. This includes the owners.
Sam is also noted for being a strong proponent of the long ball game and traditionally physical English football. While detractors like sourpuss Arsene Wenger feel this ruins the aesthetics of the beautiful game, Allardyce has had noted success. He lead Bolton to its first UEFA cup qualification.
All that said and done, is Big Sam a smart match for West Ham? Let’s break things down here a little bit and have a look and what he’ll bring to the club.
Allardyce’s tendency to disallow the board and majority owners from making decisions that directly influence a club’s style of play or the players on the pitch at any given time is just what West Ham needs.
Davids Sullivan and Gold, West Ham majority owners, have done much to torpedo the confidence and composition of the club in recent seasons. After sacking Gianfranco Zola, the pair thought it would be smart to offer every player on the squad other than Scott Parker for sale.
While we’ll never know exactly what went wrong during the 2010-11 season, it’s easy to see the very apparent lack of effort and passion on the part of Hammers stalwarts like Carlton Cole as a direct result of Sullivan and Gold’s clear disdain for the club’s traditions and players.
Having complete control will help Allardyce rebuild West Ham from the ground up without interference, while creating a fierce, winning mentality. He will serve as his players’ protector, and thus gain their respect and inspire their best.
Of course, Sam might not actually come to dealing with Sullivan and Gold directly next season, as reports have surfaced that the pair of buffoons have offered to sell the club to Malaysian entrepreneur and millionaire Tony Fernandes.
Fernandes owns Air Asia and is apparently looking to be West Ham's version of Roman Abramovich, which is fitting because his net worth is a fraction of that of Stamford Bridge's resident madman.
The Long Ball
The long-ball game: Allardyce swears by it. While it’s all well and good for people like Wenger to deride a team for playing this purportedly ugly style of football, not every team is Arsenal or Barcelona or even Everton.
West Ham is not a club stacked with the type of talented, experienced and world class players capable of playing 90 minutes of short, controlled passing and pressing.
The team has youngsters with great potential, such as Jordan Spence and Blair Turgott, but it needs many years of development before it can play this type of football.
If Allardyce helps West Ham find success with the long ball game, if he helps the team reorganize and find a renewed purpose in the art of hoofing, good for him. And here’s thinking he will.
What Else Ya Got, Sammy?
Big Sam is a fierce man. He yells, he spits, he turns red as a beet on the touchline. Allardyce is shot through with an undying passion and desire to win. And he doesn’t take crap from anyone.
This no b.s. attitude and never-say-die madness is just what West Ham needs after a season under the charge of the completely unflappable, at times comatose Avram Grant.
Grant might not be the worst manager in the world, but he’s not a terribly inspirational man, and inspiration is what West Ham desperately needs.
Allardyce's all-consuming passion for successful football may also inspire some old hands to stay on, rather than jumping ship. His first job entails sitting down with Scott Parker, Carlton Cole, Demba Ban and more and convincing them to hang around.
Robert Green, if rumors are to be believed, is a lost cause, unfortunately. Though Green deserves to play in the EPL, so best of luck to him.
And of course, it’s a great bonus that Allardyce and Wenger hate each other.
So Is Sam the Man We Want?
Ultimately, yes. Sure, it probably would’ve been a better idea to bring in Roy Hodgson just after Liverpool sacked him, but let’s not lament what can’t be changed.
Big Sam has presence and a very clear vision of football. He has a winning mentality and a fierce passion for the game. These are the four essential things West Ham has completely lacked in its previous two campaigns, and exactly what the Hammers need right now.