West Ham United – Going long and backwards under Big Sam

by Mark Beegan

When football people talk about the great institutions of the British game, then the name of West Ham United deserves to be up there.  This is a club that is rooted in its community. You only have the walk around the East End and talk to the people to see the pride that West Ham fans take in their club.  They will tell you with a straight face that West Ham United won the World Cup for England.

When you take away the partisan and tribal nature of these fans comments, there is actually an element of truth about the claim. Geoff Hurst, a West Ham player, fired the hat trick that downed the Germans. Bobby Moore, of West Ham United, lifted the cup as captain of the victorious England team. Martin Peters a classy left side, who also scored in the final, was a integral part of Ramsey’s team. The club has also provided England with Trevor Brooking, a wonderful technical player, who sadly has not been able to bring the vision from his playing days to his job of technical director.

The production line didn’t stop in the eighties, however, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard came through in the 1990’s. Jack Collison, James Tomkins and Mark Noble have kept up the tradition recently.

They were all brought up the West Ham way, to cherish the ball, to express themselves and to bring joy to the punters who are parting with their hard earned cash to watch the match. All of these players Cole, Carrick, Lampard and Ferdinand have reached the top of the club game and representing England numerous times, all were schooled at West Ham. When you walk down the tunnel at the Boleyn ground, you cannot miss the sign, West Ham United- The Academy of Football.

It is for these reasons that it is just so wrong that Sam Allardyce is in the seat once occupied by Ron Greenwood and Billy Bonds. Allardyce was hired to get West Ham promoted and he did, just about. West Ham with a budget larger than not only every side in the division but also Athletic Bilbao and Newcastle United, scraped promotion through the playoffs after beating Blackpool in a game where they were out classed and out passed.

To be fair to Sam, he has always played this brand of kick and rush, so West Ham knew exactly what they were getting when they hired the Englishman. His Bolton side, brutally effective at times, were consistently awful to watch.

His brand of football, didn’t matter to Bolton fans, they have not the same culture of passing progressive football that West Ham have. He got a free pass because Bolton fans A)did not care and B) it led to success beyond the wildest dreams of your average Bolton fan. West Ham fans expect more, they expect stylish attacking football. It is for this reason and this reason alone that West Ham fans have not taken to Allardyce.

His spell at Newcastle showed that a big football club with a love for attacking football was only willing to tolerate his industrial style of football for so long. Can you imagine where Newcastle United would be if Sam Allardyce was the manager? Well it is safe to assume that neither Hatem Ben Arfa nor Yohan Cabaye would be wooing the Geordie nation as they currently are. They would not get into any side Sam manages.

The win on the opening day of the season showed that against a poor rigid Aston Villa side, that Sam will not encourage and urge his players to go out on the front foot to try and win the game. The game against Swansea, however, showed the flaw in Allardyce’s philosophy of playing the percentages and hoping to knick it on a set piece. West Ham constantly gave the ball away against Swansea who had the good sense to pass and pass and then pass some more until the opportunities for goals came.

What did Sam do? Did he go on tell his centre backs to move the ball quickly to midfield so they could in turn feed Matt Jarvis or Carlton Cole to feet? Did he tell them to have the courage to match Swansea pass for pass? No, on the rare occasion when West Ham actually had possession, Allardyce watched as his players punt ball after ball at Carlton Cole who either fell over or failed to control and hey presto Swansea had the ball.

It was clear from the numerous times they tried this both against Aston Villa and Swansea that this is Big Sam’s blue print for Premier League survival.

The Fulham game last weekend showed that this pattern is rigidly drummed into the players, with footballers such as Noble now reduced to playing quick long diagonals to the Andy Carroll in the hope of a knockdown to the on rushing Kevin Nolan.

The Fulham game illustrated that this tactic can be brutally effective when a team is unable to stand up to the aerial bombardment but the Fulham also showed that they are poor enough in possession to give their opponents plenty of the ball and numerous good chances.

While the season is only three games old, it is frankly depressing to see a club with West Ham’s tradition attempt to stay up this way. West Ham should have thanked Sam for promotion and then promptly sacked him. If they had moved for a Roberto Martinez or Ian Holloway type manager then West Ham would have tried to survive playing a style that is embedded in the soul of the football club.

Indeed clubs such as Wigan, Swansea and Norwich have proved that survival by style is possible. These clubs are nowhere near as iconic as the hammers yet have sustained themselves in the Premier League in a manner that Ron Greenwood and others would be proud of.

Wigan and Swansea have done football a great service by showing that strengths such as physical strength, tactical rigidity and set piece bombardment are not necessary to stay up in the top division. They have shown us that there is another way forward.

There is no doubting that Big Sam’s long ball tactics will be effective against disorganised and poorly set up teams when West Ham are at home but it is hard to see them having enough of the ball away from home to gain a foothold in these tricky away games. Sadly, it maybe their away record which is the difference between staying up and going down

The style of football one likes is purely a personal thing, you may be happy with your team lumping it, I on the other hand am not.  Should results, however, like the one against Swansea continue then it is hard to see a crowd as educated as West Ham’s tolerating Sam for too long.

The argument that Allardyce is ugly but effective will be blown out of the water this season. The two Davids may just have a decision to make come November/December time. I wonder what that Harry Redknapp chap is doing at the moment.

Author Info

Mark Beegan

Mark Beegan

Mark is a graduate of UCD. Mark is a freelance journalist with a love of attacking football and tiki taka. Weekly contributor to Back Page Football. Writes mostly on European, South American and Irish Football.

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39 Responses

  1. tIM O KEEFE says:

    Is this an article just to promote Harry Redknapp. How can such rubbish be written after 3 games that sam could be sacked by november or december. I have never seen after results stating “Oh played a very attacking game, made 3,600 completed passes but still lost 4 nill” Norwich played a good style but will that keep them up this season, No. Liverpool went for a change of style and look how its doing for them

  2. Wow, what a really poor piece, how many times have you seen West Ham play, or do you base your article on what the tabloids write.
    I dont think ive seen a worse piece of journalism, maybe you should apply to the Daily Mail.

  3. Peter Graham says:

    What an awful article and typical of someone who lazily jumps on the “lump it” Allardyce bandwagon. Did you see the Fulham game? It was the best attacking display I have seen from West Ham for years and it wasn’t down to lumping it long to Carroll. It was great football, mixing up with one touch and yes somethimes going long.What’s wrong with that? Harry said on MOTD that Tottenham having been knocking diagonal balls to Crouch for years but nothing was siad about their style of football!

  4. matt says:

    your article is just lazy journalism and made by assumptions and reading other articles and pub chit chat, rather than watching the football matches or looking at the stats.

    granted swansea was a shambles but

    “The Fulham game last weekend showed that this pattern is rigidly drummed into the players, with footballers such as Noble now reduced to playing quick long diagonals to the Andy Carroll in the hope of a knockdown to the on rushing Kevin Nolan.”

    this comment is total rubbish!

  5. Ironsman says:

    I’m going to try and say this in a mannered way so this does not get sensored. Your a complete cOck mate. We play the odd long ball up to the big guy up front.. Playing to our strengths yes. However nearly every team has a big man up front as redknapp himself said recently on MOTD. If a team plays the ball over the top to a fast forward is that hoff ball!? No it isn’t. Your jumping on the Alladyce band wagon because your an idi0t and u probably don’t watch any of our games. Alladyce has insatlled a gritty determined team that can win games, with nice fotball also, with occasional diagnal balls. We have the best side we have had for many many seasons and I for 1 am enjoying us winning games for a change. The west ham way died in the 90s and we have been poor ever since. So how about u stop listening to the biased media and actually talk to irons fans, and I’m sure they will echo my views. Poor, poor article and typical bad journalism. Get your own brain.

  6. Jon says:

    I don’t usually let myself get wound up by bloggers, but reading this this morning has really made me quite cross.

    You make it sound like Big Sam took a side who played beautiful flowing football and has turned them instantly into a brutal, long-ball team. And that they have no hope of continuing this way. You are completely wrong. We played much the same way under Grant and Zola in the years before Sam. But we were absolutely dreadful. We lacked unity and couldn’t pass the ball forward or form an attack to save our lives. We were worse at defending.

    Big Sam has changed all that and deserves a lot of credit for it. The team plays with urgency and tempo, something we never did before, and with confidence (OK, it’s a fairly direct style). And best of all with Big Sam, we press high up the pitch, up beyond the half way line, and right through the pitch. We never did that with Avram and kept getting torn open because of it.

    So consider that before dishing out your holier-than-thou lessons in how to play attractive football. Against Swansea we were fairly comfortable for the first 20-25 minutes, we pressed them very well and dispossessed them and forced them into mistakes. Then obviously we made some stupid defensive errors, they grew in confidence and we were never getting back in. It happens.

    We beat a toothless Villa side (you seem to suggest it’s a crime that we didn’t beat them 5-0). We might have had more goals another day. Carlton missed a free-header and had a clear penalty not given. We defended well and cohesively. We’ve kept two clean sheets in three games. When can you last say that about a West Ham side in the Premiership. And how is that possibly cause to criticise us?

    If the Fulham game taught you anything it’s that we’re not just a long ball team, another game which I think you’ve misconceived. Until the last half hour where we sat back on a big lead, we were all over them. We out-passed, out-played and out-thought them, and were miles better. You can’t just base your opinion on Match of the Day and try and sit on your perch all high and mighty and bellow at any team that doesn’t play tiki-taka. You at least have to watch their games. Against Fulham we played the best and most purposeful football I’ve seen from us in years. Snigger at that if you want, but I’m proud of us for it. And we’ve got 6 points from 2 home game against two long established Premier League sides. Does that mean we’re ‘going backwards’?

    OK, two of our three goals against Fulham came from dead-ball situations, outmuscling their defence. But here I ask why have a go at Sam for that? What on earth else is a team supposed to do with a set-piece?

    Southampton, for instance, take plaudits for playing an attacking passing game. But if you really watch them a lot of their game is based on using Lambert as a target-man. He’s a player Big Sam would love. They also scored so many of their goals last season from set-pieces, from their centre halves and Rickie. They haven’t defended well either. I’m not having a go at them, just saying that you should actually try and properly analyse Big Sam and hoofball before writing, rather than fall back into the media cliché.

    To conclude, I think that Big Sam brings much more to the table than just long ball, particularly the work the team does off the ball, and that there’s finally reason to be excited this season as a West Ham fan. We’ll comfortably stay up on this evidence. How on earth is that going backwards? How you can criticise us for being long ball after the performance against Fulham (with Vaz Te, Diame and Noble dominating the game on the floor) is beyond me. I also think that you are too ignorant about West Ham to write an informed analysis of the style of play Big Sam has imposed at the club.

  7. You Have no Idea says:

    Did you watch the game on Saturday or perhaps even the highlights?

    If you had you would have heard Harry Redknapp on Saturday night, he appeared with Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer on Match of the Day. In commenting on the West Ham vs Fulham match, Redknapp praised the Carroll deal and the quality of the Hammers’ performance. In particular, the way that West Ham mixed up their play, combining slick passing moves and hitting intelligent diagonal balls in to the box to exploit Andy Carroll’s ability in the air.

    In the course of his commentary, Redknapp made an interesting admission, that while he won widespread acclaim for the style of his Spurs team, they often utilised the diagonal (long) ball in to the box to find Crouch in the box and that Van der Vaart scored a number of goals by exploiting the so-called ‘second phase’ ball. He admitted that this was used frequently as a tactic, amidst the sharp passing football. Yet did that Spurs team ever get condemned for playing the so-called ‘long ball’ or being ‘direct?’ No of course not, all commentators saw was a passing team, who played the game the ‘right way.’

    This admission reinforces the conclusion that with Allardyce it is a case of ‘give a dog a bad name.’ The media narrative about Allardyce’s footballing style is built upon descriptions of long/direct and ugly but effective football. Even after the beauty of West Ham’s passing on Saturday, match reports still led with the all too familiar references to the long ball and a physical style. Yet, Harry Redknapp employed the same tactic with Crouch and there were no similiar observations, because the overriding narrative associated with Redknapp is one of passing football and attractive, attacking play. And there juxtaposed is the stereotypical and labelling manner in which the media and others think of the two managers and their respective styles of play.

    However, few things in life are that straightforward. Allardyce’s previous teams have played good football, particularly his later Bolton sides which included a number of technically gifted, quality footballers like Nicholas Anelka. As I have consistently argued, Allardyce’s West Ham side will look to mix up its style of play, combining both a direct style and short passing game. I believe that Allardyce is a pragmatist and the best style for him is essentially ‘what works’ to deliver the result. I also feel that we can play exciting and attractive football under Allardyce, although it will be built upon a foundation of an organised and hard working team unit. Two traits very rarely associated with past West Ham teams! No doubt, we will witness some dogged and functional displays this season, especially in matches away from home, against the top teams. Yet in others, we will see some excellent, expansive and attacking play, in the best traditions of West Ham Utd FC.

    What we probably need to is to attempt a deconstruction of the discourse of the ‘long ball.’ We should pose the question: when is a long ball not a long ball? Was Bobby Moore’s free kick for Geoff Hurst’s headed equaliser, in the 1966 World Cup Final, a long ball? Was Moore’s long pass for Hurst to run on to and score England’s fourth goal a prime example of being direct? Ron Greenwood preached hitting Hurst’s runs on to the near post and West Ham turned it in to a art form. Was Greenwood advocating direct football in adopting that tactic? In 1985-86, Devonshire and his fellow midfielders played numerous long balls forward in to space for Cottee and McAvennie’s to exploit with their pace. Was that the long ball tactic and was Lyall’s greatest side tainted by it? Of course not. In qualitative terms, the diference lies in the manner in which the ball is played and to what intent. How Greenwood and Lyall’s teams played and the tactics of, for example, the old Wimbldon FC is as different as the rapier and the cudgel! They are both weapons, they have that commonality, but one is about skill and finese and other is about raw, brute force; one precise and the other imprecise!

    The truth is that there is a subtle distinction to be made between long aimless balls continously pumped from the back and intelligent and skilful balls played in to the box. One can only be excited by the prospect of skillful players like Matt Javis and Matt Taylor hitting beautifully flighted diagonal balls in to strikers, with runners in to the box exploiting the knock down. Especially if it is deployed as a tactic to take advantage of the defensive weaknesses of opponents and co-exists alongside a more measured, fluid passing game. Saturday’s performance showed how Allardyce’s West Ham side can productively mix up these two approaches to produce a potent cocktail of attractive and very effective football.

    If Harry Redknapp, as a graduate of West Ham’s Academy, can deploy that tactic without being crudely labelled, then why not Sam Allardyce? Is it just a case of ‘give a dog a bad name’ or perhaps ‘mud sticks”.

  8. RoyNaldo says:

    I’ve been a regular at the Boleyn for 30+ years, so seen a lot of good and bad games in equal measure. Through it all we’ve always tried to play football, rooted in Greenwoods Hungarian influenced philosophy of the 60s.

    So Alladyce’s appointment did seem counter-intuitive to these beliefs. However, I believe he is here to do a job. The first part was to get West Ham back in the premier League at the first attempt.

    The second part is to consolidate our position in the first year. The fact that Alladyce is on a two year contract leads me to believe that he’s not here for the long haul.

    If he completes his task, I will be happy. I just hope our footballing reputation doesn’t suffer in the meantime.

  9. Stunaldo says:

    You clearly didn’t watch the fulham game, if you had been there you would know we played some outstanding football, not “kick and rush”, you are guilty of lazy, ignorant journalism!
    No team plays fluid passing football all the time, and sometimes you get outplayed by the opposition. We now play with steel, determination and style!…. Effective football is what is needed, when was the last time we played the West Ham way???….perhaps you’d Like Grant or Roeder back to deliver your style of football?…..poor article!

  10. Paolo Moore says:

    Lazy journalism..

    Listen to Harry Redknapp on MOTD from Saturday night. ‘arry was known for his attacking football at Spurs and yet he said that countless times they would pump it up to Crouch and VDV would work off his knockdowns. Indeed, that was how he scored many goals. Yet ‘arry plays slick passing football and Sam’s teams just hoof it. If you even watched the Fulham game, you would have seen that we mixed it up when we needed too and played quality (not aimless) balls into Andy Carroll when we needed to and played it on the ground as well.

  11. Nick says:

    How odd, there is a huge difference between Wimbeldon long ball when you lump it up and hope that 10% of the time someone will get on the end of it and what West Ham do. West Ham can pass as you will have seen at Fulham they passed them ragged at times, maybe not to the level of Swansea, but perfectly well, they also know when to ping it forward and hit their man, more long pass than long ball. Sam has this long ball thing associated with him and it’s going to be hard to shift however much of a half truth it is. It will always be plucked out by someone like Jol as an excuse because his team wasn’t up to it. Not making the best possible use of set pieces is near enough criminal, be they corners, free kicks or RVP penalties.

  12. sam says:

    I have not been a huge fan of the new manager but Saturday’s game was the best we have played for ages and the team mixed it up really well. If you look at the stats for the game it wasn’t all hoofing it up the pitch, there were a lot of passing and some decent football also !!

  13. YouTwat says:

    You’re a thicko. West Ham played very well against Fulham. You’re just another one with your tongue right up Redknapps arse.

  14. Stuart says:

    I have read some ill-informed drivel in my time, about my club West Ham United, but that has to be up there at the top of the list.
    Cliched, sweeping generalisations, and a slant on the article so steep even crampons wouldn’t make it any easier to read.
    For what it’s worth, I’m no Allardyce megafan. I have been sat on the fence pretty much since his arrival, occassionally swaying slightly to one side or the other, but I am still pretty much on the fence. I am sooooooooo bored of reading the same old tired cliches being spouted about my club, and Allardyce’s style of play.
    Sure, Allardyce’s teams are usually well-drilled, competitive, hard to beat. Sure, he does play the percentages. But he also plays a very English style of football, a style that relies on a traditional centre forward, and quality wing-play, quick passing to break out of defence quickly. My old man used to describe Pardew’s West Ham side as a “direct running” side. In that it would get the ball forwards as quickly as possible, but not through hoofing it, but by getting it up the pitch through pacey players running with it and playing one-two’s to open spaces to run into. I don’t see a lot of difference between what Allardyce is trying to set up, and our last successful side.
    Using last weekends game to make your argument just shows how lazy and inaccurate this article really is. Alan Shearer gave an excellent analysis of how we pulled Fulham apart on MOTD. Not least by highlighting how by not hoofing it to the big man, gave the likes of Vaz Te and Taylor space in key areas of the pitch. His point was that Fulham were expecting us to hoof it to Carroll, and didn’t really know what to do when that obviously wasn’t happening.
    Still, if the likes of Martin Jol are buying into the tired cliches about how we play the game, and setting his team up accordingly, it can only be a good thing for West Ham, when we turn up and catch them off guard, with our ability to play some decent stuff.
    Sure, we’re hardly an East End barca, but given what needed to be done to repair the shambles of the last few years, I’d say Sam has done exactly what was needed. We are a work in progress. He has built from the back, adopted a safety first, no nonsense stategy, given the side a much needed spine, and created the sort of platform you need if you want to push on. Sure, in an ideal world the next step is to use that solid platform and add more creativity, and only time will tell if Sam acheives that

  15. John Pritchard says:

    I am a West Ham fan of nearly 50 years standing – I remeber winning the ECWC with a wholly home grown team, the World Cup, brooking annd Devonshire, Cottee and McAvennie etc – I also remember the serial relegations and the appalling fiancial mess the Icelandics got us in – last season, having had our club saved by the Davids, promotion was of the essence. For 23 home games we were every club’s biggest away trip of the season and hence they lifted their game- for 23 away games we were every teams Cup Final and biggest gate of the season – the pressure was on us a darn site more than Southampton or Reading – equally in the final Blackpool had nothing to lose, all the immense pressure was on us – and we did it. Granted last year wasnt always pretty,the run of home games without a win hard to take,but it was a big ask – and when you are paying an inherited £30k plus a week to wasters like Piquionne and Carew then having spent all that money doesnt count for much – the guys who got us up were the home grown boys, Faye, Cole and Nolan, the latter ebing the only one on money. This so called WHU style has seen us fail for years and its a myth – you clearly equally didnt watch the first half v Fulham, we could have been 6 up, that wasnt the simplistic long ball game anymore than the days of old were masterclasses now copied by Barca or to a lsser degree by Arsenal or Swansea – nor do we kick lumps out of people like Stoke or the still lauded Paul Scholes to name one of many- Big Sam had a huge job to rebuild a ruined club and did it in a year when any realist would have expected it to take 2 or 3 – a lot of dead wood, negativity and bad press had to be overcome – now a new era and lets see how it pans out but it sure doesnt need the kind of inaccurate rubbish you write

  16. Frankiehammer says:

    Sorry Mark but you couldn’t have been at the Fulham game where the likes of Vaz Te, Demel & Diame were absolutely outstanding. They mezmerised Fulham with their passing & ball control.
    It appears that you are jumping on the band wagon with other critics. Don’t forget that last season Reading & southampton were playing with settled teams. We wern’t. Southampton were fortunate to have Ricky Lambert virtually injury free all season. Where do you think they’d have been without him. Look what happened when he was stupidly substituted against Man U at the weekend.
    Against Swansea, we made a couple of individual errors which gifted them two goals. They did play some good football but so did we & were unlucky not to score a couple ourselves.

  17. JMan43 says:

    I have never read such a load of rubbish in my life. So when Tottenham play a diagonal ball, when the likes of Chelsea et al do the same they are backward are they. It is about time you journalists did your homework, Allardyce is no more a long ball merchant than Redknapp, di Mateo, Moyes etc are. He will play practical football to be best able to beat the opposition in front of him. Your offensive denigration of some great interplay, on the floor, by West Ham against Fulham shows you do not have any idea of what you are talking about and are just one of those who has bought in to the false perception of Sam Allardyce that seems to pervade through journalist ranks. Try basing your articles on fact and the evidence in front of you in future rather than make believe. And by the way West Ham under Rong Greenwood often hit long diagonal balls up to the likes of Geoff Hurst and under Lyall David Cross.

  18. Max says:

    Appears the bulk of this article was written before the Fulham game, which has been tacked on after as in some ways it destroyed the argument. The play was certainly more mixed against Fulham, and 3-0 scorelines are rare indeed for West Ham, a promoted team lets not forget. Currently Hammers fans couldn’t be further from the doom and gloom that this article presents.

  19. Aaron says:

    What a load of rubbish. Im a life long hammer and have not seen the apparent “west ham way” in a very long time. If the west ham way is losing then yea, I have seen it!

    As for the fulham game, did you watch the same game?? It was not all long ball. We held possesion and passed the ball around well. This is just a tag BFS gets stuck with! Even Redknapp stated he played long ball at Spurs. Did he get tagged with it? NO. I know a lot of west ham supporters who are happy with same in the hot seat and are looking forward to a successful season. COYI

  20. Johntan says:

    Good article Mark. I am a hammer myself and while I would disagree that this weekend’s game was an example of Alardyce’s bludgeoning approach (I think that was actually some of the most attractive football that we have played under him) I would agree that in general we are probably the worst team to watch in the premier League. The way I see it is that football is changing for the better. With the newer rules that restrict the amount of contact in football it is becoming harder and harder for bully boy managers such as Big Sam to succeed in the game.
    Throughout the generations there have been teams that have revolutionised the way the game is played. The latest team to do this is Barcelona. There confidence in their game management borders on arrogance but having the technical proficiency to be able to do it is almost unbelievable. When I read on the West Ham blogs over the summer that ”Spain are so boring” i felt saddend. When you consider that West Ham fans are probably among the most cultured in England and they are not even appreciating football brilliance anymore, I think it shows that English football is about 20 years behind football in spain and especially cataluna.
    But back to my point on Allardyce. If he doesnt wake up and see that his way of playing football can only get you to finish about 10th in the table at absolute best (which I doubt he will) he will be left as obsolete as a football manager as a black and white television in this world of HD. But to balance this reply out I would say that towards the end of last season for about two months we were playing some really good football with hardly any long balls. So he has proved over a brief period of time that he is aware of the existance of another more beautiful style of play. Now with the signings of Jarvis and Benayoun who will need balls in to feet perhaps we will see that style of play adopted again. I just fear that he is more concerned with short term survival/mediocrity than long term potential success.

    1. Stunaldo says:

      Go and watch spurs if you’re that unhappy with your club, I don’t know what some people expect, who would you have in??? Grant, Roeder or Zola? How did you perceive our football then?

    2. Stuart says:

      The worst team to watch in the PL!!!!!!
      What a joke! And I’ll treat the rest of your opinion as such

      As for styles of football, well, the most successful side over the last 20 years, Manchester United, play with a very English style…. I seem to remember them finishing above 10 th in the table a few times……..

      1. Johntan says:

        Name a worse team to watch from a neutral point of view then. I would give you Stoke but just about every other team seeks to play a more progressive style than us.
        Are you trying to say that Man Utd play the same style of football as us? If so you are deluded. They play a quick counter attacking style much like we did under Pardew and when they do have a spell of solid possesion (not just transition possesion) they try to pass there way through teams. We get about 40% possesion Id say on average in most matches and that is not because we are soking up pressure and hitting quick on the break it is because when we get the ball we aimlessly lash it up the pitch.
        Look I am not trying to call for Allardyce’s head as I think what he is doing is probably the best thing for the club and I can actually see us finishing 10th ish this year. I just don’t see us ever really finishing higher than that in the future. I mean look at Stoke. They play the same way as us generally (Fulham game aside) but there about 3 years ahead of us with there project and can you ever really see them progressing from mid tableness? I can’t. In fact I find it easier to see them sliping down the league as teams who do attempt to play ball and not just stifle start to get there just rewards. I just fear that with Allardyce in charge for the long term that we have no hope of significantly progressing.

    3. Jamie says:

      Barcelona have always played this way, mate. Much longer than you’ve been alive probably.

      1. Johntan says:

        They put in to place the idea of it when Johan Cruyf was manager in 1988. The idea of total football. He made the every age group in the club play the same way. He said that maybe we wont see the benefits of this for 10 years but when that time comes barca will have the most technicly gifted players in the world. He was right. I agree that for a long time they have played total football but not until quite recently (last 6/7 years) have they attempted to control the game entirely and remove most of the risk of the opposition scoring by just nearly completely monopolising possesion. This is not just having say 60% this is more like 70%-80% every match. They also have a 7 second rule for getting back possesion. When they loose it, which is almost always in the opposition half, they pile on a huge press for seven seconds which will nearly always result in a tackle for possesion or a long punt up the field where their centre halfs or goal keeper will just deal with it. If the ball is retained for them seven seconds the press will become slighlty less intense. This method of defending was devised by Guardiola and has been a big key in them having such high percentages of possesion. I think it is too simplistic to just say that Barca play good football. They play extremely well thought out football. This is the type of football that will bring success in the future although I think there will always be room for other styles of football. That is what makes football interesting. Currently only Barca, a few other Spanish teams and Swansea are attempting to play this way and if they stick at it im sure they will have success. I would love if Allardyce would recognise this and start puting systems in place for our next generation to be up there with the barca youngsters tecnichly. I am however sure that Allardyce, who is a smart man, does recognise that playing the ball long predominently will only get you so far and then he’ll have to change it up after a couple of seasons of mid table. I am looking forward to seeing how/if he will do that.

  21. Ben says:

    Wow, worst piece of lazy journalism for a long time.

    You’ve just jumped on the anti-sam bandwagon and made no real effort to research the subject you’re writing on.

    Do you think if he was really that predictable and poor as a manager, only playing ‘kick and rush’, then would he be millionaire premier league manager? He is obviously doing something right, isn’t he?

    Redknapp said on MOTD on Saturday that he told his side to hit diagonal balls to Crouch, yet he is labelled long ball?

    Playing to your teams strengths is good management, did you see West Ham against Fulham? Tactical balls into Carroll (tactical as they are floated in, so if the defender wins the header, it’s harder for him to head it back 50yards) supplemented by pass and move on occasions. Fantastic.

    West Ham have not been this organised and hard to beat for years, credit to Sam where it’s due.

    I’m not saying he’s the best manager, he’s just nowhere near as bad as the press like to make out.

    He’s never been relegated, even Harry has.

    I’m not here to beat you with a stick, and I don’t know your history with football, but, and I don’t want to sound like a big time Charlie, but I have played professional football and shake my head every time I read an article like this, as current & ex footballers, and some fans, can see beyond the media stereo type.

    I’m a West Ham fan, I don’t want to see him leave.

    Give a dog a bad name and all that!

  22. Ka says:

    Lazy writing, for sure. Watch the Fulham game. West Ham had the ball on the floor more than in the air.

  23. Tim Tim says:

    A bit of research reveals that Mark Beegan, the lazy journalist the put together this drivel is a LFC fan – sour grapes methinks from a supporter of a team that has had it’s worse start in 50 years.

  24. James says:

    Completely agree with Ben. Big Sam’s ‘long-ball’ game is such a false stereotype stimulated by those in the media. Can’t fault your effort Mark, your article is very well written. It’s just that I don’t agree that Big Sam is taking us backwards.

    1. Stuart says:

      Exactly James
      Look at where we were when Sam took over, and look at where we are now….
      Seems to me like we’ve been moving in the right direction for pretty much all of his time at the helm, so to suggest he has taken us backwards, and in the title, says all you need to know about this article

  25. William says:

    @Johntan 11.49 football is a contact game and do you really enjoying watching the tika taka boys of Barcelona rolling around on the floor the second they get a tap? I know I don’t. It’s a man’s game for christsakes.

  26. Dave says:

    No doubts the author had decided to write this drivel long before Allardyce had even been in the job too long.

    One of the laziest, sloppiest, disrespectful pieces I have seen in a long time.

    … and that is going some.

  27. Gary says:

    I went horseracing last week. Standing by the winners enclosure the victorious horse was led in and had its saddle removed.

    As it did, from its steaming, sweaty backside came the biggest flatulant gas explsoion I have ever heard. I couldn’t put it into words.

    I am just commenting here to congratulate you because you just have in the above artcile.

    Total and utter ill-informed tripe. West Ham played plenty of football against Fulham, and tried to do so against Swansea, who did not even look like scoring until West ham gave them two goals.

    After that they were chasing the game.

    Villa parked the bus leaving Darren bent with just three touches on the ball the whole game.

    Fulham were passed off the park, as well as the threat from carroll and company.

    If you are using articles like this to help find yourself employment, I feel you really need to actually research your subject, rather than rehash old stereotypes.

    I am a West ham fan, and although I can’t say I was overly enamoured when Allardyce joined, I can honestly say i have been very pleasantly suprised.

    We have played better passing football than we did under Zola, Grant and even Curbishley.

  28. Marc says:

    What absolute drivel!

    I don’t know which West Ham / Fulham game you watched, but from where I was sat, that was the beautiful game and it’s prettiest. Pass, move, skills, pace, technique. The whole lot.

    Yes, there were times, when a diagonal to AC was pumped and/or floated up to the big man, but if you had a 6’4 striker (Who by the way, happens to be regarded as 1 of the best target men in the Premiership – possibly the world) and just signed as you’re “marquee” signing, why the hell wouldn’t you look to play to him??

    Lazy writing, lazy writer, pointless SA bashing that is certainly not coming from a West ham fan. Us fans, while we may not like everything he does, certainly respect Big Sam for (With the massive help of the Dave’s) sorting out a team that was going nowhere fast.

    If West Ham vs Fulham was us playing hoofball, I’ll take 35 more games of that please!!!

  29. Simon says:

    You are an idiot who clearly does not watch football or use their brain. Lazy inaccurate rubbish. You insult Bolton fans and are disrespectful to a successful manager. I guess you don’t watch live games except on TV. You need to try writing about something you know a little bit about. Also, what is this rag that actually published this?? Pathetic .

  30. Stevieray says:

    I can only assume the writer of this article did not bother to watch the Fulham game. He just jumped on board the juggernaut of lazy journalists who repeat the same old tired and false mantra which will please everyone except West Ham supporters and fans of the game that is football who can watch a game and treat it on it’s merit
    It has little resemblance to the truth.

    He will be a very successful journalist as the truth is hardly the realm of the majority of many journalists these days.

    Never let the truth get in the way of a good story is a notion which he has very much bought into.

  31. RexHammer says:

    This is lazy, generic journalism at its best. As many people have commented before, you have opted to jump on the anti-sam bandwagon and copy what your journalist brothers are saying.

    When Big Sam come to the club, it was in complete turmoil both on and off the field. The managers had completely lost the changing room and we collected so much dross along the way.

    Big Sam came in, got rid of all the dross and won the dressing room back, also the players look a lot fitter than before. We also have a proper captain in Kevin Nolan. Yes, he can go missing for large sections of the match, but he is our top goalscorer and is 10 times the captain that Matthew Upson ever was -not that you would know as you most probably thought it was Scott Parker like all your other buddies.

    Before writing another article bad-mouthing our club, why not have a look on West Ham forums/blogs and see what the FANS are saying, rather than taking the lazy route.

  32. Chris Snelling says:

    This, an article first published Septamber last year, is being rehashed now? Why? Lazy journalism to start with and even lazier publishing. Obviously not enough crap going on in the transfer window……oh and yes….what is that Redknap chap doing at the moment?

  33. Tom Burford says:

    I haven’t read so much dross for a long time.

    How on earth is this club going backwards? We have tried to play this so called “West Ham Way” for over a decade now with no success. And don’t forget that we were relegated with the Joe Coles, Michael Carricks and Jermain Defoes in 2003 adopting this supposed beutiful style of football. Under Zola and Grant we tried to play this attacking style and constantly let in more than we scored.

    Big Sam has introduced tactical prowess where previous managers this decade have failed. Everybody sings Pardews praises, but lets not forget we actually finished 6th the season we went up not 3rd. Last season we also broke a club record for away wins.

    When we go in front I am now confident we can win a game, a feeling I haven’t had for a long time.

    And with the backing of our chairman and looking to upsize to the Olympic stadium. This is a club going forwards, not backwards.

    Football is a changing game and for teams like west ham, their interest needs to be winning football matches. With the squad we have we’ve over achieved this season, in my opinion. Win matches, stay in the league, it’s that simple.

    When people talk about the flair players of the past, despite their rightfull place in West Ham folklore, there was a lot less pressure to win games, trying their best was enough and even losing was softened if they team played well. Because of the money in the game now teams can’t afford to be relegated, hence the reason we have to play winning tactical football. The have been a lot of games when Sam has been in charge where we have stolen the points when we haven’t been the better side, and would have gone home with nothing in previous years.

    I think back to games like QPR away this year where we won the game due to being solid at the back and seein the game out. Everyone knows how many winning positions we threw away under Zola an Grant, because as managers they were tactically inept.

    Lay off Big Sam, he was the best possible appointment for us last year. And he is going to lay the foundations for West Ham to be a massive club in the future.

    Come on you Irons

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