Sam Allardyce and West Ham have been a surprising package this season in the Barclays Premier League. The Hammers were relegated from the top flight two seasons ago but returned to the Premiership at the first time of asking, via the play-offs. Sam Allardyce was deemed the man for the job by the board – although the plan was to win the Championship – not come third.
Nevertheless, West Ham are back in the Premier League were they belong – Allardyce delivered, but he still had his fair share of misanthropes come the start of the season.
Fact is, Allardyce had been sacked by Bolton, Newcastle and Blackburn, was unemployed for 11 months before taking over the reigns at West Ham.
But lets take a further read into this. After Allardyce left all the clubs they were relegated. Allardyce took Bolton to fifth before he was removed – Blackburn were relegated a year late under the tenure of Steve Kean. Newcastle have done well under Pardew, but still suffered the fate of relegation after Big Sam was deemed surplus to requirements by Ashley and the board.
A key fact in Allardyce's revival of West Ham was the astute signing of Kevin Nolan. Allardyce worked with Nolan at Bolton and knew what his new skipper was all about. A proven performer at the highest level, Nolan took what was considered a step down when he arrived from Tyneside. Installed as captain, Nolan had an instant effect on the team.
Allardyce said: “He changed the dressing room. He can galvanise a group of players, which is a massive responsibility taken away from me because you don't know what's going on in the dressing room, you've got no idea.”
“Not that he comes telling tales to me, but you know he's going to promote the fact that he's not come down here to mess about: “I ain't left Newcastle United to come down here and mess about at West Ham. I've come down here to get back up.”
This sort of attitude has proved crucial to West Ham's season. Their never say die attitude has served them well – most notably the captain Kevin Nolan himself scoring a 93rd minute header to rescue a point against Sunderland – at such a crucial part of the season.
Allardyce brought Nolan to not only get West Ham into the Premier League, but to say there.
Allardyce should take credit for the way he handled his business in the transfer market. The likes of James Collins, Alou Diarra, Matt Jarvis, Andy Carroll and Mohamed Diame, to name a few – all arrived for £20.5million.
Allardyce has transformed West Ham into a Premier League team – a team that will give every team in the league a game.
The Hammers currently sit 11th in the league and face a difficult spell. West Brom and Arsenal away, along with Everton and Norwich at home. Allardyce will install into all of his players that no game is easy in the Premier League. Something they will need to take in if they are to remain.
Allardyce and Nolan will have to rally the troops for the difficult fixtures that lie ahead in their quest for Premier League survival. Sam Allardyce has experience in the Premier League, he knows how to survive. Something that the likes of Nigel Adkins and Brian McDermott do not.