Filed: Wednesday, 29th February 2012
By: Lee Kelly
Sam Allardyce is currently in Dubai along with his first team squad for a few days' warm-weather training ahead of a busy March schedule.
Last night he was the subject of a Q&A session, hosted by former Sky Sports presenter Rob McCaffrey, during which the current Hammers boss answered a number of questions relating to both his playing and management career.
A summary of the main points discussed follow; our thanks to Lee Kelly for providing the details...
The Current Squad
Jack Collison, James Tomkins and Mark Noble, in particular, have huge affection for West Ham. When Allardyce joined he spoke to them all and stated: "You love this club, you need to get it back into the Premier League".
Kevin Nolan is a great captain. He's not the same player as Scott Parker, which some West Ham fans are critical of - his words - but he does bring you goals unlike Parker who is perhaps better on the ball. Nolan is also the first contact for any dressing room unrest; if it gets as far as Sam, he knows that something is wrong.
Julien Faubert was desperate to leave West Ham last summer but no club came in for him. Allardyce put his arm around his shoulder and said: "If you play well I'll put you back in the team - if you keep playing well, you can stay there." Sam said the Frenchman has had a good season, so much so that he now wants a new contract.
Ravel Morrison is a star in the making, but has been practically dragged up in Manchester. They club can't change his background but are happy to let him mature a bit, whereas Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson wasn't standing for it.
Robert Green is a big believer in his own ability and Allardyce insisted that the goalkeeper should never have been dropped from the England squad and has rightly been recalled. He maintained that selection for the squad shouldn't depend on playing in the Premier League, as long as the player is in good form.
The general feeling about players wanting to leave is that if they want to go, they can leave - adding that there's no point having them sulking about the place, or not wanting to play for the team.
The Board and the Media
Allardyce said that when he joined West Ham, one of his first requests was to be the main media representative as the Board got some things wrong in the press last season. He suggested they have a tendency to bite when a journalist tries to wind them up, or asks the wrong questions, adding that there were some disasters in the press last year. Sometimes they still talk to the press, but that's just the way they are.
Sam seemed to be quite happy that Karren Brady deals only with corporate issues instead of the football; my impression was that he isn't her biggest fan.
When Allardyce joined West Ham last summer, morale was really low. He firmly believes had he got the job in January 2011, he would have kept the club in the Premier League. He mentioned that Demba Ba's goals alone should have been enough, but the defence was terrible.
Robert Green keeps his own statistics and the first thing he mentioned to Allardyce when he arrived was that he had to face between 15 and 20 shots every game.
My impression was that he was unhappy at being overlooked for the position in January 2011 (when Martin O'Neill was the Board's number one choice), but is currently happy with life in London.
The Olympic Stadium
Sam didn't sound too keen on the Olympic Stadium whilst the running track remains in place. He referred to Manchester City, stating that they had a stadium that was easily transferable to football when the Commonwealth Games were over - although it's not as easy as that with the OS as it also needs to host athletic events.
He learnt all about the scientific side of football when he played in the USA in the latter stages of his playing career. Allardyce's team shared a training ground with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and they had several physios, coaches, sports scientists, masseurs and sports therapists. He took some of that on board when he started managing.
When he was last interviewed for the England job, Allardyce met David Beckham and had a conversation regarding what needed to be done to improve England. Beckham said that the players needed more protection from the press - which I thought was quite ironic given how certain players love nothing more than having the press follow them around!
Sam spoke to Brian Barwick from the FA after his interview and they told him they would get back to him by the following Thursday. Bolton were playing Middlesbrough, managed by Steve McClaren - the only other candidate at the time - on the Wednesday and when he didn't hear from Barwick that night, he put a bet on McClaren to get the job - which he did.
He believes Harry Redknapp is a shoo-in for the current vacancy.
He claimed that Daniel Levy didn't want Tottenham to sign Scott Parker as he felt he was too old, but Harry Redknapp wanted him desperately and Levy acquiesced. The feeling at West Ham was that Parker had been told by other people that he wouldn't get in the England squad whilst he played in the Championship.
Allardyce disclosed that he wasn't very fond of Newcastle, adding that the club were living in the shadow of Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer during his time there. Every time he failed to get a result the fans were calling for Keegan or Shearer and they ended up taking them down. Now that the Toon Army would never take them back, he feels that the shadow has been lifted.
Without that pressure, Alan Pardew has got them playing well and got some good results. He added that it was a big surprise Pardew got the job and laughed when someone mentioned Pards' five-year contract - given that he had just been sacked by a League One club. "He obviously has good contacts in London", commented Allardyce.
Sam has little time for Arsene Wenger and Rafa Benitez as they were always happy to shake his hand when they beat his teams but always less than forthcoming when he beat them. "They don't like it up 'em!" he quipped. He is good friends with a number of managers who were playing around the same time as he did, but only mentioned Wenger and Benitez as those he didn't get on with.
Should West Ham achieve promotion this season, Allardyce believes that the first season back in the Premier League will be one of consolidation, not of struggle. Although he has spent circa £10million on players this year he also recouped a similar figure, so would hope to have money for players to improve the squad as a whole rather than just big money players for the sake of it.
Although there are no guarantees, he is confident that this can be achieved at the first time of asking.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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