Saturday, 11 January 2014

Dear Sam

Sam Allardyce,

You recently mentioned in an article that you had received a letter from a fan backing you and was happy to have someone fight your corner, you also noted that you would not walk away from your position and were happy to have the Chairmen's backing at this time and are looking for every possible way to get the club out of the situation that is currently looming, of being in a horrid relegation battle.

Now don't get me wrong, although you are a manager I dislike, you do have credibility about you. As you always mention yourself, teams do not get relegated under you (although I feel if you do stay in your current position that may change), you did get us promoted back at the first time of asking and you did reach a good solid 10th place last season built on a superb home record where we were almost impossible to beat, my highlight of the year watching us come back from a goal down to win 3-1. So yes I will give you credit for that.

Here is where some of that credibility fails me though, the squad you managed to hold in the Championship, was hands down on paper, far too good for that league and a lot of people said even Premiership sides may have envied our midfield...yet this side only managed to finish 3rd and won the play-off final, which was a fantastic day, but the game itself was not convincing, sitting at Wembley I was fearful of Blackpool a lot. Then the first season back up and we did very well, possibly a high from getting promoted and on top of that the loan signing of Andy Carroll proved a big help. But then again, the team Alan Pardew had that won the playoff final, on paper was probably not as good as yours, on top of that, the following year Pardew guided us to 9th and also guided us to the FA Cup final, a game a lot of people felt we should win. He suffered a familiar feeling that I am getting now, the side struggled the next year and suffered one of our worst starts in our history, yet I was sad to see Pardew go at the time, yet yourself, I would be happy to see leave. Here's my reasons why, firstly the tradition of West Ham that I fell in love with when my brother first started showing me football was the way we played, not always the prettiest, but they wanted to pass the ball and play quick attacking football, no matter who we were against, be in Manchester United or a League Two minnow, we stuck to our ways, sometimes this could lead to a memorable victory, other times it could lead to awful shock defeats, but one thing always stood out, our fans no matter the outcome would sing and support the team as they always felt they were giving 100%. Under yourself, you have a much different tactic to this, you set the side up not to lose (although I've always heard the best form of defence is attack). You will almost always stick to your lone striker ruling, even when chasing a game and you aren't afraid to toughen a side and bully the opponents. I admit this can sometimes work very well, the problem I have though, is when we lose, we look like we just rollover and have no alternative. You seem to allow the team to stand off the opponents and let them come at you, which just puts a side into a tough position, you also promote a much more direct root of football, launching the ball in the general direction of a target man who will try to flick the ball onto a team mate or control the ball, which is not a brilliant style of play to watch at times. Don't get me wrong I don't mind winning ugly if you have to, but in recent performances especially, it doesn't look like our team are even comfortable attempting to pass it short or on the floor. Making the losses look even uglier than those wins when you can draw out.

Secondly, when I was growing up, West Ham had the nickname "The Academy of Football" and for very good reason, back then I saw the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and Frank Lampard come through, then later on we saw Jermain Defoe, Anton Ferdinand and Glen Johnson, then even later we saw the likes of Jordan Spence, Freddie Sears, Junior Stanislas, Frank Nouble and Zavon Hines come through (almost all of which you have shown the exit too), now I admit, the class of the earlier players was much higher than that of the latter, but they all had their talents to be given a chance, Sears for his scoring ability in the Development Squads, Stanislas for his wing play and delivery of the ball, Hines for his pace, Nouble for his strength and Spence I admit was thrown in at the deep end of a relegation battle, but he put in some promising performances at the time. Yet you seem adamant to never give our young players a chance and recently claimed none of them as good enough (and you wonder why Forest beat them after their own manager probably shattered their confidence to pieces). You have given the odd player a chance, Potts, who many admired and thought might push into the first team, Chambers and Ruddock in the cup, who both had put in reasonable performances (yet when we had a centre back crisis, you opted to play McCartney and O'Brien in centre back roles rather than possibly give one of these an opportunity in their natural position) and Spence has featured as a substitute a few times. Also you allowed Rob Hall to walk out the door, possibly against your wishes as he wanted first team football despite you saying he was one of our best prospects (surely you would have promised if he continued to impress he would get his chance and if he took it, then first team football would come his way. He still talks about West Ham and clearly loves them, so I feel you missed a trick there). So I would like to know, why not chance some of these players, you never know, they just might shine, take for instance when we seemed to not even be able to buy a goal, yet Elliott Lee was scoring for fun in the Dev Squad, surely he could have done no worse than our strikers at the time who were struggling to find the back of the net. Or why not build on Dan Potts' promise and try to make him into a confident and impressive future left back? All I'm saying, is you shouldn't rule out the players before first of all giving them a chance. The only players you seem to like from our academy are Noble and Tomkins, which I'm pleased you do, but we also have a very good midfielder in Collison who has also scored some vital goals for us, rarely ever getting a look in.

Lastly, is your transfer business, you spent a lot of money on one man, Andy Carroll. Now I am pleased you signed him as he did very well for us, but surely even you knew, he was going to need an operation, so would have signed a second striker in preparation or maybe had a different tactical plan for while he was out? It just seems you are still trying to play as if he is there, when Maiga for example, is quite clearly a very different type of player to him and Carlton Cole just hasn't quite be at the top of his game. Maybe risk them both together? Again it could pay off.

As you can see, I'm not the happiest of Hammers right now. I feel you're taking everything I knew about West Ham and are just ripping it to shreds, on top of that, the performances are not going your way, your so called hard to beat team now is leaking goals for fun (although I won't lie, a lot of that could be down to injuries and having to play players out of position...or maybe try the younger players who might well fit the bill and full the void until then). And our recent performances have just been horrible to watch, I don't doubt for a second they aren't giving it their all, but the tactics and style of play just look clueless, standing off opponents and letting them keep the ball, then every attack we seem to do is to launch it to the target man and hope they win a flick on or knock it out wide and hope one of Downing, Jarvis or J.Cole beat their man and get a cross in. Also when everyone else could see Nolan wasn't performing very well, you kept him in the side and never ever subbed him off. On top of that, in games we've been losing, you've swapped Maiga for C.Cole or vice versa when, maybe just once, we could do with using both of them.

It seems that you won't be walking away and you won't be getting sacked. So all I ask, is maybe to change some of your styles or views. It could just be the one gamble you need to survive in this league and I'm not saying this will happen, but maybe if you did change it, then some fans will warm to you, if you don't then I'm afraid, even if you do keep us up, then you will never be accepted by many of our fan base, as even when you did guide us to 10th last season, I knew a lot of people that were still very unhappy and all it takes is for a few bad performances for them fans to start getting louder again, you've heard it for yourself in the Championship, last season at times and especially, right this second. I just feel you should consider it.

Last of all, if you are staying, then good luck, as I feel you're going to need it, but if we do go down, then I'd like to be the first to say, I did warn you right at the start of this post.

James Bannister.

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