Filed: Thursday, 19th April 2012
By: Richard Williams
As we begin our charge (ok flop) to the play-offs the resentment towards Sam Allardyce and his tactics appears to be growing on a daily basis. With a Premier League-standard squad and the inconsistency of all but two Championship challengers, the league SHOULD have been won weeks ago.
I have looked back at where it all went wrong and am not ashamed to admit that Allardyce is at the heart of it. Below are the five mistakes that single handedly ruined our season:
1) Long Ball Insistence. I’m not one of the very many Hammers who believe in 'the West Ham Way'. I fully agree with Allardyce that the West Ham way is losing football matches in a cloud of mediocrity while achieving nothing. I also understand Allardyce’s insistence on going direct to win football matches. He did it successfully with Bolton and Blackburn, achieving European football in the process.
The mistake made, was that this type of tactic cannot be used week in, week out and is easy to defend against unless you have the strongest and best target man in the league to hold up and win headers. We don’t. It proved in the Birmingham home draw recently that if you switch from passing to direct quickly you can score goals, pen the team back and exert pressure but if they are expecting it they will park the proverbial bus and swat us away like flies. It is an ABSOLUTE MUST that a team challenging for a title has a plan B. Throughout the season there has been no plan B.
2) The Wrong Personnel. Our owners were fantastic in backing Allardyce both before the season and during the January window. Allardyce showed them his targets, they succeeded in obtaining the signatures. The question I ask is, were they the right signings? With such a direct nature in style, why did we sign pacey strikers who like the ball to feet and get in behind the back four such as Baldock and Maynard? With Jason Roberts available on a free and scoring vital goals, surely he was a better target man (literally)?
Carew showed that signing players at the end of their career HAS to stop if we are to progress but more on that in a minute. Instead of buying four strikers, why were we not in the market for quick midfielders/wingers who can actually get to the by line, beat a man and deliver into the box? Allardyce appears to be signing the same players repeatedly which just backs up the claims of no plan B. Variety is the spice of life and our squad has none.
3) Lack of Youth. Rob Hall, Montano, Potts, Moncur, Spence, Nouble - and dare I say the name Ravel Morrison? If ever there was a chance to bring through the next Lampard or Joe Cole a season in the Championship was the time to do it. I am in agreement with those who would tell me you must have experience but surely there has to be a blend of the two? The youth, excitement, creativity, commitment and fitness has been lacking all season. We have a youth team of stars waiting for their opportunity to shine, why have we kept with the journeymen who have nothing to prove or play for? Carew, O’Neil, Taylor, Collins, Faye or Faubert would all leave in a heartbeat if offered more money or Premier League football.
Southampton were promoted from League One last season, did they panic-buy Stoke or Bolton’s cast offs? No. They had faith in their young players. Players who showed they would die for the shirt. The excitement as Sky Sports News informed us of Ravel Morrison’s signature was clear to see across the social media circles. This is a player who Paul Scholes quoted "Is the best talent to come from the [Manchester] United youth set up since Ryan Giggs". We all knew he came with baggage, but ask Maradona’s managers if that worried them? Where is he and why has he not been included when the team was CRYING out for creativity?
4) A Starting XI. Championship facts to date tell us that Reading and Southampton have made fewer changes to their starting XI than all but two teams in the league. Week in week out the players know exactly who is playing, what the tactics are and how to play to their strengths. Allardyce has shown how clueless he has been with regards to his squad and although we have had injuries all season, there has not been a consistent spine to the team. Our best player in Tomkins has been used at right back, centre back (his best and only position), holding midfielder and centre midfielder. Carlton Cole has been used as a target man, a secondary striker, on his own or with one of MANY strike partners. Faubert has been on the bench, then up front, then wide right then right back… You get the point.
The best managers keep it simple. They build a first XI, playing each player to their strengths and stick with it to create consistency and confidence. The fans have been on Carlton Cole’s back all season (In some instances it has been justified) but do you blame the guy? This guy was in the England set-up last year with an impressive debut, this season he has been in and out the team more than anyone! Does Brian McDermott rest Ian Harte every other week because he passed 30 years old? No, he plays him every week because he is the best left back at the club. As a result, Ian Harte scores goals and consistently provides an attacking threat for the team. He is one of many examples….
5) Bad Attitude. Sam is known for his 'No Nonsense' attitude and I have to admit I have always respected him for it. In his own words, he has a "thick skin" and will not listen to the negativity thrown at him by anyone. The issue this season is that you MUST back up a strong front with results. The above points have shown that he has continuously made mistakes all season. Our current position in the league shows that his way has not worked. Instead of insulting the fans with accusations of being "thick" and "deluded" a quality manager and motivator will use the media to the advantage of the team and ultimately get the fans onside.
You may not care what we think of you Mr Allardyce but it is us who pay your wages and ultimately provide the atmosphere on a match day at the Boleyn. Is it a coincidence that we have struggled at home all season and there has been a growing discontent towards the manager? Do you think Mr Mourinho or Ferguson would throw insults at their own fans? They would spin it like all good motivators would. They would ensure the fans left the televised or paper interview with renewed optimism that we were all working towards the same goal. When the fans turn on you, the writing’s on the wall.
With all of this being said, we still have a chance of promotion through the players and I for one will be behind the team as normal come rain or shine. For those of you using the "it's a tough league to get out of" excuse, ask yourself the following question;
"If it is SUCH a tough league, how have we got it wrong, continued to make mistakes and still have a very good chance of Premier League football next season?"
* You may contact the author via his blog at claretsweatandtears.co.uk or via Twitter at @CSAT_whufc.
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.
09:50PM 23rd Apr 2012
''"The issue this season is that you MUST back up a strong front with results." We have won 23 games and lost eight, scoring 79 goals in 45 games at an average of 1.75 goals per game. We are also on the verge of promotion. Judging by your remarks I take it you regard this as failure. Pray tell me what success would look like?''
by Richard Williams
12:33PM 23rd Apr 2012
''I wrote the article. Regarding some points made....
Jason Roberts v John Carew: I fully understand the comments made but it's not an age thing, it's more the transfer itself. Carew was signed almost as an afterthought! Jason Roberts was signed as the main man. I firmly believe that EVERY team needs a "main man" up front with the confidence he will play every week. Could Carew have been a Roberts? Probably yes, but to play him so sporadically does the man an injustice. Age has nothing to do with my point. Roberts has scored more goals, is more committed as well.
Premier League Squad: Noble, Tomkins, Green, Faye, McCartney, Taylor, Cole, Nolan, are all PL standard (if not a few more). I stand by that and I'm sure many others would.
In addition, the beauty of being a West Ham/football fan is the freedom to disagree and debate. COME ON YOU IRONS!''
09:22PM 20th Apr 2012
''You and others seem to forget BFS inherited an awful, disjointed team and at the same time also through no fault of anyone at the club lost our best two players as well ie Parker and Ba. He's managed to put a team/squad together that's had us challenging at the top the whole season, that's not failure that's progression. Our only failing has been being unable to break down teams at home when they park 11 men behind the ball and try and and hit us on the break. That's when we've tried long ball, when we've run out of ideas. We've lacked one player this season and that's someone who can make the killer pass, unfortunately there aint that many of them about.
I've actually enjoyed this season. I've enjoyed seeing us win more games away than ever before, I've enjoyed pushing for one of the top two spots all season unlike last time we were down when we played worse football and just scraped into the play offs. But then again I don't think we have a divine right to win every game we play and I don't think we have a divine right to be in the Premier League.
As for playing football the West Ham way, what is that? Because the last time I saw us play all-out attacking football was under Redknapp and even then it was in between the normal hammerings we took each season.
The worse thing about this season has been the fans because Sam had it spot on - we have got a lot of deluded fans who, I'm afraid to say, are now more fickle than a certain team from north London.
Whether we go up this season remains to be seen but it certainly aint all doom and gloom and with the majority of this squad kept and the youngsters we have coming through I daresay the bookies will have us as one of the faves to go up next season if we don't this season. That should be to BFS's credit, not his detriment.''
by g portugal
08:29PM 20th Apr 2012
''Everything you say here makes sense, especially concerning signings. The club made a number of poor signings, choosing players either too inexperienced or past their sell-by date. The owners and the manager have a lot to answer for on that note.''
04:48PM 20th Apr 2012
''Under Zola and Grant we were spiralling downwards. Big Sam has set up a regime which the players respect and support and he knows how to run a squad. I was never a supporter of him previously but he has turned the club around for the better, and we are now looking upwards with expectation.
I can't remember the last time we beat Bolton under his management. I accept that when teams come to the BG they raise their game, but we really do have the players to deal with them. Despite his vast experience, Big Sam does not seem to know how to change a game tactically when it's needed. The Palace match being one example. He likes tall powerful players so why hasn't he invested in wingers who can supply the right type of long balls? Bring back Matty.
It's been a frustrating season at the BG but I never understand the mentality of those fickle supporters who hurl abuse from the terraces at the manager and the players. When we win there are no complaints.''
by Chuck D
03:13PM 20th Apr 2012
''So you berate the signature of Carew, for being finished, but say we should have signed Roberts, who is older?''
by Darren Mitchell
02:31PM 20th Apr 2012
''"Carew showed that signing players at the end of their career HAS to stop if we are to progress."
In another quote you said "with Jason Roberts available on a free and scoring vital goals, surely he was a better target man (literally)?"
John Alieu Carew: DOB 5th September 1979 (age 32)
Jason Andre Davis Roberts: DOB 25th January 1978 (age 34)
is not Jason Robert nearer the end of his career than Carew?
And with Sam Allardyce's rotation system I'm surprised Vaz Te has scored as many goals as he has. The reason we are not winning games is every time we play the two or three up front, Sam changes it week in week out which does not help the players with consistency, Ricky Lambert is the first name on the Southampton team sheet and that's why he is top goal scorer in the dreaded Championship!
Oh - and Jason Roberts would never sign for West Ham United as he hates the ground we walk on! Check out a previous Soccer AM. Up the Hammers.''
11:52AM 20th Apr 2012
''I agree with many of the points that you have made.
With regards to the "long ball" style teams playing WHU know exactly what to expect. If you read the opposition manager's post-match interviews they all say "that WHU are a big strong team that they expected a physical game with a lot of balls into the box" etc. The opposition train all week to counteract this and as long as they get men behind the ball and compete physically they have more than a chance of denying WHU clear goalscoring opportunities.
Allardyce has reasonable success at Premier League level with average teams playing the direct style. As Stoke have proven this does work at Prem level as most teams in the Prem are not used to playing against this style week in week out. However, in the Championship they are and this is where Allardyce's lack of a Plan B has in my view cost us dearly.
When he came in his mind was set on playing the direct style regardless of the personel that we have hence his signing of Carew, Diop etc. At Championship level I believe that we had the players to outplay the opposition as has been proved more recently when I feel we have tried to play more football.
I agree that he has not kept a settled team and often plays players out of position. He has no interest in bringing in the youth. Evidence of this is that Potts came in as Allerdyce did not have another left back or anyone who could play there. He had some decent games but was then dropped once players returned from injury and has not been heard of since.
He also makes excuses everytime we do not win. It is either 1. the refs fault, 2. we were great but missed chances or 3. we were great but gave away sloppy goals. It is never his fault. He never says I picked the wrong team, made the wrong substitutions or got my tactics wrong.
The signings that Allardyce has made are average to say the least. How many will be able to hold their own in the Premier League? We can still do it through the play-offs. But with the squad that we ave we would need to spend £50 million to have a realistic chance of finishing in the top half of the Prem.
Hammers fans keep the faith. We might still reach the promised land (for a season at least).''
by John Pritchard
09:05AM 20th Apr 2012
''I can agee with a lot but first off, we had no divine right to win the League. Uunlike Reading and the Saints we will have played 46 Cup Finals, the biggest game home and away for all of our opponents and the one to raise the game for - it was always going to be tough. However, we have won more away games than in the previous five seasons put together. That is a fantastic achievement and those going away must have had a great time (my wife resents me going to home matches so no chance of the away ones sadly).
At home of course it has been very frustrating - those who spend all their time slagging off Carlton Cole need to think, as you intimate, what a thankless task he has had much of the year - Baldock or Maynard playing off him would have produced goals. I totally diasgree with your implied criticism of Faye who has been superb, totally agree that Tomkins should play only centre back where he has been player of the year. Some more guile at home would have worked wonders but only Noble has an eye for a pass and is the only one who can tackle. Nolan has only put a shift in the last two games at home, Faubert although much improved still pulls out of 50-50s as does Taylor and is still way too inconsistent with the final ball. Collison has been sh*t all season, Lansbury needs to give up Tweeting crap all day long and deliver the talent. Piq and Carew - total waste of money. O'Neil at least 101% effort as with Linda - can't fault that.
Our numerous coaches still havent taught the team how to take throw-ins, corners or free kicks - and why on earth when we make a sub does McDonald need to do a diagram for the player coming on - what do they practice? Given the injury list and seeming lack of fitness levels what do the fitness experts get up to?.
All year long the crowd have turned up in numbers yet been blamed - personally I think the support has been superb, all the more so after all we have put up with since Tevezgate and Iceland and BFS has been very wrong to criticise. The owners have played their part well this year. I dread the play-offs - clear third but we dont know how to play Birmingham, have beaten Blackpool 8-1 already but surely they will be wiser next time - and if it's Cardiff, they have all the Wembley experience.
I don't want to see Green, Tomkins and Noble go but that will be the real cost of missing out. I've actually enjoyed ths season, 3pm on a Saturday, a lot less cheating primadonnas and hype but with even worse refereeing as a downside - if we do get up there will be a lot of work to do. I think credit should go to BFS for steadying a very directionless ship and to him and Nolan for engendering a much better team spirit than we ever had under Grant and that waste of space non-skipper Upson. Let's hope we do get a great day out May 19 - and if we do, job done and a lot of the negative comments will need retracting. Then the real hard work must begin again.''
by Charles Flores
07:37AM 20th Apr 2012
''I have never been a Sam Allardyce admirer, but the truth is he was the ideal manager for a club wanting to get back to elite football immediately. The last time the Hammers faced the same situation, under Alan Pardew, they finished sixth! And Pardew had a lot more quality players then.
Mr Williams criticises Big Sam's attitude. There may be some truth there, but what did WHUFC achieve under the most positive, ever-smiling, attack-minded Gianfranco Zola, for example? A season of misery. So what do we really want in managers? People still talk about the "Redknapp days" as if Harry ever did anything sensational except rightly exploiting the Academy machine. Pardew got us back into the Premiership from an impossible sixth placing and an FA Cup Final that was literally robbed by a guy named Steve Gerard who, if he tried for a hundred years, would not score the wonder goal he scored to equalise for Liverpool during injury time.
Hammers fans need to get back to reality and the moral of the story is: stop criticising each and every one and up your support. We do not want to go through the misery that bigger and more successful clubs than us, like Leeds and Nottingham Forest, have been through.
Come on you Irons!
PS May I suggest to the club management to engage an exorcist? It seems that everything and everyone that comes to West Ham either instantly loses form or is injured. Voodoo may also do the trick!''
by Ian ( Worcs )
09:01PM 19th Apr 2012
''A very good article I am right behind you. Like most WHU fans we like to watch our team play with the ball, NOT lumping it up for the big man to hold up. I have followed WHU since '65 so have seen many highs and lows but win, lose or draw watching one and two-touch football opening defences is exciting.
To me the type of play is paramount, the wins are a bonus. So long as ALL players give 100 per cent I can forgive bad results but please clear out the journey men and give young, eager players from the Academy who will give blood for the team. Players need to realise how lucky and privileged they are to play football for a living; I am sure EVERY man and boy in the ground would love to be in their place.
You have cocked up automatic promotion, PLEASE don't cock up the play-offs. But if the worst happens and we end up still in the Championship we will still support you but I dare say some of the players will think themselves too good and move on, it's you that has got us here. Not the fans. COYI.''
07:29PM 19th Apr 2012
''I don't agree with the majority of your points. Given the dire state that we ended up in at the end of last season lets take stock for a moment and consider that to probably finish third is not all bad news.
Your point 1. We need to win football matches and for the majority of the season we have done this. With a big front man like Cole, if he was worth his salt he should have scored 20, 25, 30 goals this year.
Point 2. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, do you really rate Jason Roberts?
Point 3. Big Sam and his team obviously don't think they are good enough yet and Nouble aint full stop. Your point about Morrison is right however, as you know Man Utd dont sell good players for £500,000.
Point 4. Good teams pick themselves and we aint, however we have had many players spending long periods out injured.
Point 5. I am sure Big Sam will have wished he chose his words more carefully however you should give him some slack and give the fella some credit because to me, unlike the Roeders and Grants, this guy is a proper gaffer who has been round the block many times - and knows, from the opposition's dressing room, all about WHU's soft underbelly.
You will do for Big Sam; go on my son.''
05:51PM 19th Apr 2012
''I agree with a lot of what you say apart from the fact that our squad is certainly not a Premier League squad. The only PL player we really have is Green; Noble potentially, Tomkins potentially, and Faye could probably still handle himself - and Nolan could score goals in a good team, but that is all. So we are, to an extent, where we should be.''
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