Filed: Thursday, 10th May 2012
By: Richard Williams
With the final whistle ringing in the ears at St. Andrews, the Twitter consensus is that it was the result to suit West Ham in our quest for Premier League promotion. I have to say that I am in full agreement.
Over the season West Ham and Allardyce have shown that our resolve and tactics away from home have been instrumental in our push to Wembley. In addition to breaking the ‘away wins’ record, we have installed a steely confidence within the team not been seen away from Upton Park in recent history.
The obvious reason for this is the ‘home mentality’ adopted by teams fearful of sitting back and defending on their turf. Allardyce has a proven track record in pressing home teams high, getting people behind the ball and picking them off as they attack. His tactics ensure strength at the back and in midfield with an intensive work rate, pressuring mistakes in the opposition.
Where we have failed to spark is at home. Why? Simply because we have failed to adopt a Barcelona style patience and speed of passing to break down teams who have banks of players behind the ball intent on the destruction of play. The proverbial ‘Cup Final’ at Upton Park has frustrated the faithful and inevitably ruined our automatic promotion following a run of draws where a single goal in any game MAY have been enough.
What this tells us about our play off Final opponents is that we suit the playing style of a team set out to attack us and take risk. Birmingham have shown in recent years that they are extremely hard to break down and very well set up.
Last year's Carling Cup and twice this season, we have struggled to overcome the defensive nature of a strong Birmingham team. Contrast that with the 11 goals scored against Blackpool in our last three encounters (including a 4-0 and 4-1 this season) and only the most negative of Hammer would doubt our 'favourite' status.
I’m a firm believer in confidence and a positive mindset. The very positivity our boys will have with the hindsight of results this season should prove fruitful at Wembley.
Ian Holloway has been continuously praised for his attacking, risk taking playing style but we must remember that he was relegated with one of the highest ‘goals conceded’ totals in recent years and his Blackpool side finished this season conceding more goals than anyone in the top ten (they finished fifth!)
If Allardyce wants to set out his stall for Wembley he must continue with the work rate in midfield, the high pressing and picking off a very attacking Blackpool side. If all else fails, it will simply be a case of scoring one more than them!
Whatever happens, I’ll be there with the claret and blue army... I predict goals!
* Richard Williams is the host of the claretsweatandtears.co.uk blog. Richard may also be found on 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.
08:39PM 12th May 2012
''Can I just say, all you Hammers who wanted Blackpool well you got us and ome of you on here your arrogance stinks. What gives you the right to underestimate us and think you've won already? Some of you happy Hammers won't be so arrogant next Saturday and I can't wait to see fat Sam's double chin hit the floor!''
by tony hanna
01:02AM 11th May 2012
''This is one game I am not looking forward too - it is the Holy Grail for the winner and another winter in Siberia for the loser. My opinion is that there should two up and two down. Replacing three Premier League teams every season only makes the top four/six clubs in the PL stronger and stronger every year - if QPR stay up 25% of the PL teams would have been replaced since two seasons ago - and if Cardiff had gained promotion that stat would read 30%.
The top clubs are laughing all the way to the bank with this process. Good luck to the Hammers.''
01:01PM 10th May 2012
''Thanks for the tip-off.
10:46AM 10th May 2012
''Good positive article. Remember we finished above you last season, it's our fifth play off final W4 L1, and we owe you one. I'm sure Ollie will find enough positives for our boys. Hope that it's a great game between two teams who will add a lot to the Premier League. UTMP.''
10:20AM 10th May 2012
''That's exactly the kind of attitude we like our play-off final opponents to take. ;-)''
by Clyde Whiting
09:51AM 10th May 2012
''I fully agree with the above but offer a slightly more "shop floor" slant.
We struggled at home because we don't have a natural playmaker that can unlock 10-man defenses. Once a team "parks the bus" we are clueless.
Away from home, when the home team has to do the attacking, we have showed that we can play around and over teams, we just can't play through them.
Home to Cardiff, they had to score, we were never going to lose because they had to come after us.
Blackpool, I love Ian Holloway, he makes me laugh and I love the way he gets his teams to play. Unfortunately for them, is that thier style of play will suit us more than it suits them.
Expect a thrilling final, but also expect the biggest winning margin in play-off history.''
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