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Big Sam Allardyce a sumptuous 16/1 shot to be LMA Manager of the Year

Happy New Year to all Coral customers, and in recognition of the arrival of 2015, we’re offering our punters a sweet 16/1 on West Ham United boss Sam Allardyce being named LMA Manager of the Year.

Such an accolade winging its way to Big Sam would have seemed unthinkable 12 months ago. The Hammers were struggling in a relegation battle, with an injury-depleted squad, forcing their coach to play with a makeshift defence.

Berated and jeered by the Upton Park faithful for a brand of route one football, Allardyce subsequently pledged to play a more attractive, passing game and has stuck to his word.

It’s been a remarkable turnaround for West Ham, as they enter 2015 in the top six. Big Sam has supplemented faithful retainers Kevin Nolan, Joey O’Brien and Ricardo Vaz Te with clever signings like ex-Arsenal midfielder Alex Song and exciting attackers Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia.

Such is the change in Allaryce’s stock that Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, an old adversary who criticised him for playing ’19th Century football’ when their teams met last term, is now his biggest supporter.

“If West Ham finish top four, then Big Sam is manager of the season, West Ham team of the season,” said Mourinho recently. “It would be an amazing achievement comparing West Ham with the investment that other teams had to finish in the top four, but why not?

“Sam Allardyce has a big history in the Premier League. This season he is giving not just the image of a very competitive coach that plays in a certain way, he’s playing in a different way. I think that is what he deserves because he’s had a fantastic career in the Premier League.”

With the Hammers 4/1 shots to finish in the top six, and 25/1 chances to end the campaign in a Champions League place, either would be overachieving on the brief Big Sam was set by the club’s owners.

Co-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold wanted a top half finish, and are targeting European football in time for West Ham’s move to the Olympic Stadium in 2016. If Allardyce delivers this beforehand, and there are real signs that he might, then surely he will be a worthy winner of Manager of the Year.