The moment I believe it all went wrong!


By Hugh Southon

It is impossible for me to forget the moment back in the summer when I was told: “He’s given up on finding a striker and bought Stewart Downing with the last £5 million.”

Okay, don’t worry, I’m not going to dwell on it. I can’t because every time I do I feel like throwing up…it really was the most absurd moment I can recall in a near lifetime of writing about this game.

How can you as a ‘big man up front’ manager decide that instead of getting a Salomon  Kalou, or someone like him you instead employa bloke who has nothing like the physical presence of him or Andy Carroll – the unfortunate Modibo Maiga.

Poor MM – he was asked to adopt a role which only one player in the club can play – and he’s injured. It’s wasn’t fair but demonstrated once again that we have a one dimensional manager who cannot adjust his thinking.

Even worse is that despite having only one way of playing he chose not to given himself a chance of doing so when spending what was left of his dough on a winger.

Maybe one of the Davids or both should have told him he was wrong and that they wouldn’t allow it.

That wouldn’t be my chosen route because the manager is paid to manage and has to be given the freedom to decide his own squad.

What I do know is that Sam Allardyce’s chosen way of playing is unlike that employed at any TOP club or indeed most others .

The £15 million spent of Carroll was paid out despite several players – and unlike Sam, I won’t name names –  clearly not being up to the job as is now being shown.

The West Ham team of 2013/14 was built solely around Carroll. I recall being told: “We must get him in early so we have him in the whole build-up to the new season. We are building a side around him. He is the key man.”

And that is why we are where we are! The player is still not ready for action (how the hell DID that happen?) yet Sam is still telling us when he gets him and the others back, things will improve.

The system doesn’t wash, the excuses don’t wash and the explanation that returning players will turn it round doesn’t wash with so many of them so far away from fitness.

It’s time – at the very least – for Sam to put his hands in the air and admit: “All of this is down to me…I’ve failed!”

We then sort out the best possible replacement until the end of the season – Steve Clarke, maybe,  and grab Malky Mackay the minute he becomes avaialable which won’t be long.

It’s been a disaster and for my money it’s down to the fact that we have a man at the helm who won’t change simply because he doesn’t know how to.

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Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!"

Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon


  • adamhammer says:

    Must be getting serious if you think Sam should be gone Hugh. What your reckon the chances are of him going anytime soon? I do like your suggestions though on possible replacements. Maybe throw Redknapp in there?

    • Hugh5outhon1895 says:

      They won’t have Redknapp Adam

      • adamhammer says:

        Didnt think So hugh. Would definatly take Malky or CLark though. Both play good football and have plan B’s. Sams time must be running out though dont you think?

    • Ruffellite says:

      I agree with Hugh in his understanding of the ‘moment it all went wrong’. The devil is in the detail though. Big Sam’s tactical plan for Hammer’s survival this year amounted to Carroll knocking balls on/down and thus enabling Nolan and Diame, maybe Vaz te , to feed off the scraps. As we are learning, tactical wisdom that rests on a single player – Andy C. – seems to be questionable wisdom, indeed. And, Big Sam apparently has big cojones ( or equally large ego = arrogance) in convincing the Board to invest their credibility, not to mention money, in his ‘tactical wisdom’. The risk seems to have been very costly though. With significant players injured in what is a depleted and inadequate squad, woefully weak for Premiership survival (I do not believe we are ‘too good’ for relegation!), there has been no money available for a ‘contingency plan’ to ease the failure of Big Sam’s Plan ‘A’.

      I’m not an apologist for Big Sam, rather I’m a Hammers-loving realist. So, my response to Adam is that my preference is to see a ‘proven’ Permiership manager who has ‘survived’ and even thrived a little with another club at the coaching helm at the Boleyn. I believe Hammers players as well as Fans deserve better than Malky Mackay (unproven at this level, and clearly incapable of managerial diplomacy with his Guv’nors) Di Matteo, and Steve Clarke. And, when we cast a beady eye about for such a creature with some track-record of note, guess what? – there’s little or now’t about.

      My assessment is this: the problem at Upton Park is systemic. It’s much bigger than Big Sam’s high risk gamble floundering, or Andy Carroll’s physiological challenges. My view is that quite apart from a ‘proven Premiership’ manager, the Hammers need no less than a ‘proven Premiership’ Board who can fund short-term survival as well as strategise a long-term business future for the Hammers ‘brand’.

      The Hammers have a squad that is not of recognisable Premiership quality – with some notable exceptions: Reid, Noble, Diame, Jaaskelainen and Collins (Nolan & Jarvis on a good day) – that is simply not up to the challenge, and yet gobbles up the wages bill!

      In fairness, Andy Carroll has been unable to prove himself through no fault of his own. If Andy Carroll is a ‘sick note’ then the medical team and Board decision makers have questions to answer, surely. Big Sam and the Gold/Sullivan/Brady trio are all at sea and equally culpable for investing in a high-risk dream that was, in truth, always susceptible to other exigencies. Andy Carroll IS the extent of Big Sam’s tactical wisdom for this season, and bpth dream and gamble are rapidly fading. Now that this tactic seems threadbare there is growing realisation of that player quality is inadeaute for survival. The injured aside, this squad would be pushed to the limits in holding its own in the Championship. And, the fault for this appalling oversight has to implicate more than Big Sam alone: it has all the marks of a corporate calamity.

      Not only do we need key strikers, and probably a new manager; we need a radical clear-out of Championship quality (and lower) playing staff at the club: O’Brien, Demel, Vaz Te, McCartney, Taylor, Tompkins, Diarra, Collison and Downing. Under a different regime Maiga could flourish; he has class. And Diame, for all of his obvious elegance at this level, never looks as though he’s truly happy in a Hammers shirt.

      However, Malky, Steve and Roberto offer nothing more than what we have in Big Sam. Yes, even I believe we probably cannot avoid a managerial change. But, we need somebody in whom the players can believe; a manager who has sustained a club in the Premiership for three seasons at least and has a track record of astute dealings in the transfer market (loans especially). We have an inadequate squad, and cannot afford an inadequate manager at this crucial point.

      Whatever comes to pass, the remainder of the season will be nothing short of gruelling. Thanks for a great site Hugh and sorry, Adam for differing in my view of a suitable replacement manager.

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