Big Sam was the man for me

  • by Staff Writer
  • Wednesday, 11th May 2022

He may not have been everyone's cup of tea when in charge of West Ham United between 2011 and 2015.

Yet Mark Noble has revealed he was a big fan of former manager Sam Allardyce, who led the Hammers back to the Premier League after just one season in the Championship back in 2012.

And he firmly believes that 'Big Sam', who is currently out of work, knew how to extract every ounce of talent from his players.

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Speaking ahead of what will be his final home game for the club, before he hangs up his boots for good, against Manchester City this weekend, Noble praised Allardyce for the influence he had in and around the changing room.

"I had a great relationship with Sam," said the midfielder, who was just 25 when the Hammers beat Blackpool at Wembley in May 2012 to win promotion to the Premier League.

"When he came in, I didn’t know if he’d like me as a player. On paper, I’m not really a Big Sam player, but he realised how to get the best out of me and I won Hammer of the Year in his first season and went from strength to strength.

We had some great times, won some great games and re-established the club in the Premier League after some really difficult seasons, which was no mean feat.

I can only speak positively of Sam. I love the football club and I only want the football club to do well - so for me, anyone who comes in and does what he did for the club, I fully respect that."

And even though there were no trophies or appearances at Wembley during Allardyce's reign following that memorable 2012 play-off final win against Blackpool, which came courtesy of Ricardo Vaz Te's 87th minute winning goal, Noble believes there were plenty of good times to remember during those four years.

"We played some good stuff at times," he recalled, "particularly in the first half of his final season as manager in 2014/15 when we were fourth at Christmas. We had a fantastic team spirit and did really well at certain times.

"I think the club and Sam came to a head in the end and the club decided to go in a different direction - but we should all respect what Sam did for West Ham, because he did a fantastic job when he was here.

"When his contract ran out in 2014 he knew he wasn’t going to get a knew deal here and he left with his head held high. And rightly so."

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