Has Big Sam's bubble burst at West Ham?
It's fair to say Sam Allardyce's reign as West Ham manager hasn't always been smooth. Whether it's criticism from fans about his style of football, to spending a club-record fee on an injury-prone player, "Big Sam" has had to fight tooth and nail at every turn during his time in the Hammers hot seat.
Through all his battles however, he has so far achieved what has been asked of him. Promotion in his first season and at the very first attempt followed by a stable mid-table finish in his first season back. It might not always have been pretty, but he did get the job done.
It was during the 2012/13 season though that West Ham could relax a little more and see what Allardyce could bring to a team when he was settled and allowed to be playful. Summer acquisitions of free agents Jussi Jaaskelainen and Mohammed Diame were to prove a success, as well as reigniting the career of England striker Andy Carroll. The Hammers also managed to claim a fair few scalps in their first season back. A well fought goalless draw against Premier League champions Manchester City, a priceless 3-1 victory over Chelsea and were close to a big victory against Manchester United and Allardyce's friend Sir Alex Ferguson until Robin Van Persie controversially scored a late equaliser.
He also brought back former academy graduate Joe Cole and managed to make defender Winston Reid the team's rock at the back, thus winning him player of the year last season.
However, for all his successes for the last two seasons, this current season has seen Allardyce come under severe pressure. The Hammers have achieve only two wins in twelve games and the cracks are beginning to show. Despite a tactically brilliant 3-0 away victory against high-flying rivals Tottenham and the emergence of young starlet Ravel Morrison, The boss's most expensive signing and last season's star striker Andy Carroll has failed to recover from an injury sustained at last seasons end.
Saturday night's defeat to Chelsea summed up just how much West Ham's form has changed for the worst. In the previous season West Ham had deservedly beaten Chelsea, whereas this time around the boys in blue had put the claret and blue's even more in the gutter. It was also the latest game in which Allardyce favoured his "false 9" formation, which hadn't produced a positive result since the hammering of Spurs.
The former Bolton Manager now has three vital games in which he needs to secure maximum points to ease the pressure on the owners, the players and especially the fans. If he does not muster at least six points then Big Sam's reign could soon come to an end.
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