Allardyce holds future Hammers hope after ‘magical’ campaign
West Ham United enjoyed a sensational start to the Premier League campaign, previously flirting with a Champions League position, but under the guidance of Sam Allardyce, the East London club have dropped narrowly adrift of a targeted top 10 place, fuelling speculation surrounding the boss’ current contract situation.
In the first two months of the season, the Hammers impressively overcame Liverpool on home soil and also dispatched last term’s champions Manchester City at Upton Park, with Allardyce’s men then going on a five-game unbeaten run before the Winter period.
However, since that promising beginning last year, West Ham supporters were quickly brought back down to earth; following hopeful ambitions of Europe, and now attentions will switch to securing a top 10 position on the final day (2/1 with Coral), when the Hammers travel to St James’ Park.
Despite his side needing a substantial victory on the last day over a relegation-threatened Newcastle United outfit, Upton Park boss Allardyce has claimed nobody else but himself could do a better job at the club.
“I have had a great time here, I have enjoyed myself, I have enjoyed London and I have done what I was asked to do, which was deliver a team that, this time round, has not only been the most successful [of his tenure] but the most entertaining, the most thrilling,” stated Allardyce.
“It is the youngest squad we have put together since I have been here. If you want somebody else to do more than I have done then I think you will have to be calling for Houdini.”
Having led the Hammers to promotion form the Championship, via the play-offs, then has since finished 10th and 13th in the top-flight, Allardyce will likely need his side to earn a high-scoring triumph over John Carver’s torrid Toon in order to end this term in the top half, with Everton currently level on both points and goal-difference.
West Ham’s demanding hierarchy outlined a top 10 finish as the club’s target this term, but that may have been seen as the minimum requirement having previously climbed into the European spots, and Allardyce’s future is on the line nevertheless, with his current deal set to expire this summer.
A host of high-regarded managers have been tipped for the potential job at Upton Park, including Napoli boss Rafael Benitez, while extremely hopeful talk of Jurgen Klopp’s arrival has been rubbished by club officials and Eddie Howe ruled his services out by committing his long-term future to newly-promoted Bournemouth.
Allardyce initially signed a two-year contract when taking over from Avram Grant on East London in 2011, a deal which co-chairman David Sullivan implements on an annual basis. However, it remains unclear whether the confident 60-year-old coach will be offered an extension on these usual terms, which would see him overlook West Ham’s move to the Olympic Stadium the season after next.
“I don’t know until it comes but I wouldn’t have thought it will be any different to a two-year,” continued Allardyce.
“The owners have been pretty consistent – it has been a two-year and a two-year. So I would have thought that is where it will start.”
With that targeted top 10 position hanging in the balance going into the final day of the season, Allardyce is hopeful the situation can be resolved rapidly, especially if his side qualify for next season’s Europa League through England’s fair play table.
The Hammers presently sit second behind Liverpool in those standings, who will likely get in through their current Premier League position, and are marginally ahead of recent conquerors Everton.
“Particularly if we are in Europe, we need to be quick about that negotiation,” added Allardyce. “Our first game would be on 2 July and there’s a lot to finalise, planning and pre-season, on the basis of that.”
The Hammers boss’ fate could ironically depend on his current side’s result against Newcastle in their final fixture (10/3 to win), domestic decliners who Allardyce parted company with in 2009 after an under-fire campaign on Tyneside, but a decision based on recent form alone would undoubtedly infuriate the former Toon coach.
“Everybody in the world of football has very short memories,” slammed Allardyce. “It’s only what happened a couple of weeks ago or next week that matters. What happened four months ago is forgotten, whether that’s good, bad or indifferent. That’s football.
“I want to see it through, yes. That depends on a lot of anomalies in terms of negotiations – not just myself but those involved around me. And of course how we’re going to progress in terms of recruitment.”
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) May 17, 2015
Allardyce declared that it was “not inevitable” that the recent defeat to Roberto Martinez’s Toffees and key challengers for that coveted top 10 spot would be his final appearance in the Upton Park dugout.
“Whether I’m staying or going, that hasn’t been decided. I could do without this because of the speculation it causes but I’m not in control of it at the moment,” he continued.
West Ham are set to go through a transitional couple of seasons, with the Olympic Stadium soon to be their new home for blowing bubbles, but Allardyce’s reign as Hammers boss could swiftly fade and die, as his fortunes potentially rest on a final day showdown.
Betting tip: West Ham finish in the top 10 @ 2/1