Big Sam and the glass ceiling

  • by Anjado
  • Filed: Monday, 13th April 2015

Sam Allardyce for me is a good manager who could have been a great manager.

It is a malaise which effects English/British managers they hit the glass ceiling. If Moyes and Allardyce were Spanish or Italian they would have been given the opportunity to manage at top clubs ten years ago.

In England, because of a general mistrust of British talent and Ferguson and Wenger being in their jobs for decades. English managers look purely for results rather than trying to build teams and providing entertainment for the fans.

Allardyce for West Ham has been at his best when he has been forced to abandon the pragmatic style of football which he loves. His two best spells as West Ham manager were the last two-to-three months of the Championship season when we needed to win every game to stand a possibility of automatic promotion.

His other good spell was at the start of this season when his job was on the line after a terribly tedious season and a not so great start to this season. Both of these spells coincided with us playing a midfield diamond system with two strikers up front which could also be adapted into a 4-3-3 also. We play our best football using a diamond system going all the way back to when Zola was manager.

Unfortunately both times he decided to abandon this system for a more defensive one and results and performances got increasingly worse. It is no surprise that the tactics he used which failed to break down Doncaster Rovers at home in the Championship also fail more times than not in the Premier League.

I think his main problem is that he is too stubborn to change his ways and abandon his principles. The way he likes to play the game doesn't work as effectively now as it did at Bolton. People will say this is down to having the likes of Djorkaeff and Okocha, but i don't think it is solely down to that.

Football has changed a lot since the heyday of his Bolton side. When Bolton were at their best, Allardyce was ahead of the game. Greece won the European Championships playing similar football and Porto were also a defensive team when they won the Champions League. He was ahead in sports science and even tactically for the time.

The problem is, it was Allardyce being ahead of the game and not his actual system which was why he was successful. When he changes it up for us and move away from his Bolton system, we look so much better and ahead of the game.

Modern football is all about attacking with pace and we did that at the beginning of the season. Yes, the board deserves blame for not spending money and I said at the time that the club lacks ambition.

But the malaise we currently find ourselves in is more the manager's fault than the boardroom. I think most people would have understood our results slipping a bit but to be performing worse than nearly every other team since the start of the year is both poor and unacceptable.

Some of his team selections have been frankly bizarre since the Chelsea game. Kevin Nolan gets a lot of stick even though he has done well for the club. But he has been finished as a starting player for a top flight club for nearly two years now and I'm not sure if he offers enough from the bench either to justify his position on the pitch.

Mark Noble was playing his best football screening the back four and now he has been moved forward, for some reason. Downing was brilliant in behind the strikers but he was moved out to the wing to accommodate Nolan.

Song has one weakness as a player which is that he dallies on the ball, so playing him in front of the defence makes little sense. If we had blooded Burke, Henry or Oxford we could have kept Kouyate in midfield rather than making our team worse by having him fill in at centre half.

Amalfitano doesn't get to start because apparently he doesn't play as well. (That didn't seem to be the case against Manchester City though.) Meanwhile Sakho and Valencia were broken up as soon as Carroll was about 75 per cent fit - instead of using Nene and Zarate, both of whom have provided a spark for us.

If it wasn't for Zarate's performance against Palace, Allardyce might well have been sacked by the third game of this season. He played well for us when he was used and I would argue his worst game was against Southampton, when everyone was equally poor. He was arguably our best player in two matches this season.

Nene has only played for 52 minutes in total; he has hit the post, forced the opposition goalkeeper into a couple of good saves and had a hand in Sakho's winner against Sunderland.

Matt Jarvis, a player he spent a club record fee on two seasons previously has only started twice this season. Diego Poyet, a player who could have been brought on when defending a lead to give the likes of Downing, Noble, Song a rest has only been used twice all season. He looks a capable player, but hasn't been used at all.

Recently we have had both Guy Demel and Joey O'Brien on the bench, both of whom are right backs, instead of having a central defender on there.

He rushed Andy Carroll back against Southampton and brought him on to the right wing rather than resting him for the West Brom game, which was the biggest of the season. He could have also brought Elliot Lee on for 30 minutes.

On Saturday we had our strongest starting XI, with the exception of Tomkins. The same team that played at our best points during the season.

Instead of picking the obvious side and formation, we picked the same bizarre formation we did against Leicester and then changed it after we scored to a 4-6-0 until half time (and then back to the Leicester formation after half time). We didn't play with two up front for any period of the game yesterday despite having the personnel - and it led to a poor performance.

Allardyce bought himself a lot of good will with the way we started the season and we played well against Spurs, Manchester United and Chelsea this year. But his negativity and favourtism to certain styles and players makes it difficult to back him. Perhaps if he was ten years younger he would be worth persevering with.

The only reason I would keep him now is due to a lack of trust in the Board's ambition. It's basically the same situation as last season; if we could get someone better or with potential, I would think about changing it.

If we kept Allardyce I really couldn't see him lasting the duration of his next contract. He has provided a few great moments and has done well generally, but his main problems has been Kevin Nolan - who he has been far too loyal too - and a system he should have pretty much abandoned three years ago.

For all the good he has done for the club - and he has done a lot - minor complaints have built and built and when results don't go our way, then people aren't going to be happy.

It's a shame he will probably be leaving at the end of the season, but I feel it is less of a missed opportunity for us and more a missed opportunity for him. He definitely had the chance to lead us to the new stadium and become the manager he always says he is. Unfortunately, his negativity and stubbornness has held him back from his goals.

It's a shame because Allardyce does come up with some brilliant ideas, but he lets himself down with a lack of ambition. Since he is now in his 60s he isn't going to learn or change his ways. His style of play does work, but only to a point - and since we are going to be trying to move to the next level, I'm not sure he can take us any further anymore.

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