|An archive of Cockney Hammer's West Ham-related daily news digests.
West Ham's labour of love with long passes is holding forwards back
The crudeness of the team's build-ups under Sam Allardyce reduces the chances of finishing with finesse
"It's not about results, it's about entertainment," says Sam Allarydce. Pause a moment to take that in. The man often portrayed as the ultimate no-frills manager announcing that, actually, he quite fancies frills and thrills. Except that's not exactly what he's saying. Because it is clear that, for Allardyce, entertainment means getting good results and getting good results means entertainment. All else is whimsy and piffle.
Results are certainly all Allardyce's employers wanted when they hired him last summer to replace Avram Grant following West Ham's relegation from the Premier League. Of the 36 teams to have been relegated from the top-flight since the turn of the century, only seven have gone straight back up. "Bouncing straight back is one of the most difficult tasks in football because the catastrophic fall-out of relegation devastates clubs," says Allardyce. "Normally it can't happen in just one season because of the difficulty of having to adjust."
The last time West Ham went down, in 2003, it took them two campaigns to return but the club's co-owners, David Sullivan and David Gold, can ill-afford to wait that long this time so have taken an expensive gamble on getting back at the first attempt. West Ham may have shed 14 players since relegation, with the likes of Demba Ba, Matthew Upson and Scott Parker leaving, but they have recruited almost as many and Sullivan puts their trading loss this season at £17m – and, given the scale of the debts that he and his business partner inherited when they took over the club in 2010, failure to secure promotion would severely endanger West Ham's future.
Over the next few weeks the owners will find out whether their gamble has paid off. Indeed, Saturday will give a strong pointer. If West Ham beat Reading at Upton Park they will leapfrog Brian McDermott's team into the automatic promotion spots. If they lose, well, boos are sure to resound around Upton Park. Again.
Allardyce cannot understand the boos. Yes, West Ham have disappointed by drawing their last five matches at home to slip from in front of Reading to chasing them but, reasons the manager, they still have their destiny in their own hands thanks mainly to outstanding away form – their 11 league victories on the road this season has equalled a club record that has stood since 1958. "We have created a winning environment at this club for the first time in donkey's years," says Allardyce. "Last time West Ham got up [in 2005] they had to do it by scraping into sixth spot and then going through the play-offs. So I don't know why people listen to the small minority who are discontent with this season."
The Middlesbrough manager, Tony Mowbray, suggested two weeks ago, after his side's draw at Upton Park triggered another outburst of booing from the locals, that the discontent was down to the West Ham fans having ideas above their station and "thinking it is an insult to be in the Championship". Another factor, however, is West Ham fans' traditional fondness for the sort of slick and exciting football with which Allardyce is not commonly associated. The 57-year-old does not believe West Ham are associated with it either. "When did they play like that?" he asks. "I don't remember it. Is outpassing teams and losing matches entertaining?"
He has a point. But so do his detractors. At times this season West Ham have been gruelling to watch. They defend well, as Rob Green has enjoyed a fine season, Allardyce has resolved the long-standing full-back problems and the centre-back Abdoulaye Faye has proved a canny signing. He will be sorely missed against Reading if he does not recover from the concussion from which he suffered during the mid-week win at Peterborough, although the blossoming James Tomkins could revert to defence from the holding midfield berth that he has filled with distinction in recent weeks.
It is going forward where West Ham have laboured. The much-vaunted Ravel Morrison has been entrusted with just nine minutes of action since his January arrival from Manchester United, Ricardo Vaz Tê has, in fairness, injected a dash of trickery but the team's preferred method of attack remains long diagonal passes into the fabled Position of Maximum Opportunity. In a sense, this campaign has been about automatic Pomo-tion.
It is not an approach that appears to suit the side's forwards. Carlton Cole is big and strong yet has looked nowhere near the force that he had threatened to become under Gianfranco Zola. John Carew has been a flop. Sam Baldock and Nicky Maynard look lost. Midfielder Kevin Nolan, though on the wane, can still read knock-downs and is the club's top scorer in the league with 10 goals. There is a feeling that the crudeness of the team's build-ups reduces the chances of finishing with finesse. West Ham have hit more shots off target (233) in the Championship this season than anyone bar Burnley (243). Allardyce suggests the blame does not lie with the build-up, but with the strikers.
"The simple facts are we have created the chances and delivered what we've needed to deliver but the one thing we haven't done often enough is put the ball in the back of the net," he says. "The achilles heel is the goalscorers and that's why we've drawn so many because you can't always ask your defenders to keep clean sheets." Allardyce would love one of his forwards to come up with a cutting reply to that criticism on Saturday today.
sorry just done this doing the round up again as when i do it some papers have not updated yet
had to go to the opticians again yesteday told i now have to hospital as i have cataracts because i am on here a lot of time to get away from the noise my hearing is rank now because i have to have the headphones on all the time that is with the nasty headaches i get
been getting two or three hours sleep the lat month or two ohy well it is only house hold noise i will be brown bread with this soon
CH , I would phone Citizens Advice to see if they can help [ I suppose you've thought of that ] , I feel so sorry for you , it must be hell .
Thank you for your daily round up , no newspaper could compare .
Good to hear that Sam is man manager , it makes a lot of difference .
The very best of luck to the lads today , and I hope the fans don't stop singing .
mate we have been down every road in the last 8 years as i said it is the bent newham couci;
Expecting a lot of trouble?
So true what Taylor said, the players should have the drive to turn any boo's into cheers. Whether they think we are right to boo or not!!
Stop hiding and walk the walk!!
Carlton with a brace today, feeling confident.
THE SUN: Sergio Aguero has a seriously blistered foot after a "stupid" training-ground blunder that furious Roberto Mancini fears could cost his side the title. Also: Arsene Wenger slammed UEFA after vowing to appeal a three-match Euro ban and a £33,000 fine...Andy Carroll has begged Newcastle fans: Don't hate me.
DAILY MIRROR: Alex McLeish is urging Aston Villa's players to beat Chelsea today for their seriously-ill skipper Stiliyan Petrov. Also: Arsene Wenger accused European football chiefs of "injustice" after banning him yesterday...Chelsea's hopes of silverware this season are in danger of being sunk by the Titanic...Sergio Aguero has put Manchester City's Premier League title hopes in jeopardy - after damaging his foot on his child's motorbike.
DAILY STAR: Stunned Aston Villa star Stiliyan Petrov last night vowed to win his fight for life after being diagnosed with leukaemia. Also: Manchester City's title hopes have suffered a new blow following a bizarre injury to star striker Sergio Aguero...Roberto Di Matteo has accused the FA of taking the mickey out of Chelsea.
DAILY EXPRESS: Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish says Stiliyan Petrov is "fighting like a captain" after the shock news he has leukaemia. Also: Roberto Mancini admits he cannot rely on Mario Balotelli to salvage Manchester City's title hopes after Sergio Aguero was ruled out for up to a month following a bizarre accident...Chelsea were left fuming last night after being forced to play their FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham at 6pm on a Sunday night - less than 72 hours before a possible Champions League semi-final against Barcelona.
DAILY MAIL: Aston Villa were in shock yesterday after captain Stiliyan Petrov was diagnosed with acute leukaemia. Also: Chelsea are livid they will have to play their FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham at 6pm - just three days before a potential Champions League last-four clash with Barcelona or AC Milan...
THE TIMES: Stiliyan Petrov, the Aston Villa captain, has had acute leukaemia diagnosed. Also: Roberto Di Matteo has expressed anger and disappointment at the decision to stage Chelsea's FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur at 6pm on Sunday, April 15.
THE GUARDIAN: Sergio Aguero will be missing from Manchester City's game against Sunderland today after a freakish injury that has infuriated Roberto Mancini and may also keep the Argentinian out of the game at Arsenal next weekend. Also: Rio Ferdinand is considering an offer to move to club football in China when his contract at Manchester United finishes at the end of next season.
THE INDEPENDENT: Perhaps it is because he doesn't know how long the pay cheques will last that Roberto Mancini calls in at his newsagent in Alderley Edge each Friday morning and hands over £20 for a EuroMillions lottery ticket. The Manchester City manager could use a change of luck, given that Sergio Aguero will miss today's critical home match against Sunderland because of a severe reaction to a chemical spray which is understood to have left his foot badly blistered and burnt. Also: Harry Redknapp suggested yesterday that Luka Modric could be interested in a lucrative move this summer, with Roberto Mancini admitting his admiration for the Tottenham midfielder.
DAILY TELEGRAPH: While Sir Alex Ferguson treats his Manchester United squad to a weekend of golf and relaxation at St Andrews, Roberto Mancini must overcome the freak injury sustained by leading scorer Sergio Aguero and a loss of trust in Mario Balotelli to keep Manchester City's title hopes alive. Also: Stiliyan Petrov, Aston Villa's Bulgarian international, has been diagnosed with acute leukaemia.
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