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    Lowbrows, high balls and the Big Sam Paradox - Well said that man .....

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    Jiggs
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    Lowbrows, high balls and the Big Sam Paradox - Well said that man .....

    Post  Jiggs on Sat 29 Mar 2014, 10:37 pm

    Long, but worth reading.  Apparently, the author is not a Hammer   clap 


    West Ham fans made their feelings clear following the vital win over Hull City last night, but the playing style employed by the manager is hardly unexpected.
    In a season of countless shocks and incongruous surprises, a season that contains a Manchester United that has never looked so dreadfully incompetent to a large number of young fans and in which Liverpool have risen to become the league’s irresistible force, last night yet another first occurred, at least in my experience, when Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United were vociferously booed off the pitch following their match at home to Hull City. Despite claiming all three points and reaching a points total that will help see them safe when the season’s denouement rolls around in May, the fans had seen enough. Allardyce’s petulant reaction, cupping his hand to his ear in the manner of a player who was celebrating netting in a particularly hostile away stadium, had the patently guilty air of a man who knew he’d finally been rumbled. The game was up, the booing signalled; even victory and eventual survival couldn’t compensate for the primitive tosh that had just been served up against a team that had played with ten men for over an hour.

    34 points after 31 games – the average points required to avoid relegation is 35 in the Premier League era, so West Ham are essentially one more draw away from retaining their status as a top division club – mean yet another feather in the already bursting cap of Allardyce, the number one Premier League Survival Specialist. In the Zombie apocalypse of tumultuous relegation battles, ‘Big’ Sam has fortified the farmhouse, has a cellar bursting with supplies, a military-strength arsenal of high-powered weaponry and is quite possibly synthesising the antidote. He has endured the 38-game marathon in the uppermost division of English football with four different clubs, all of which are regularly associated with the threat of relegation, and not once yet suffered its ignominy. Like the lone landscape oil painting on the hallway wall; timeless yet dated, forgotten yet plain to see, becoming more and more sun-bleached with each passing summer, he is an inexplicably immovable object.  The Premier League’s stone in the shoe.

    However, the capacity to remain that permeates his sides, the unwillingness to yield, comes at great cost. A trade-off, if you will; one that perhaps most would think fair and be entirely willing to accept. Yes, the fare for the annual great Allardyce survival ride is the loss of your football identity. History is whitewashed, mavericks are sidelined and flair diluted until your club resembles an identikit Allardyce blueprint for scraping into the Premier League for another twelve months. Here comes a joyless facsimile of the previous season – disappointingly tedious, predictable football. Wishing the season away and ticking off the games. The complete opposite of why you started going to football in the first place.

    Back at the turn of the millennium, the notion of a swashbuckling Bolton team charming it’s way to a mid-table finish begins to take form in the memory thanks to rose-tinted revisionism, but it was, essentially, the exact same formula as recent Allardyce years with a few of extravagant add-ons. Youri Djorkaeff, Ivan Campho and Jay-Jay Okocha were all brought in at extraordinarily low prices and each had an Indian summer, autumn and Christmas rolled into one. But the blueprint had been drawn – a narrowly solid defence and midfield, a hulking attacker who wins two-thirds of the long balls thrust up to him and some willing midfield runners who were able to deliver the occasional 30-yard screamer or deliver an ingenious set piece.

    Some top-ten finishes lend the era a sense of lofty achievement, and with such a cobbled-together squad Allardyce certainly deserves credit for installing consistency and obduracy on such a meagre budget. They narrowly lost the League Cup final in 2004 to Middlesbrough, a run that saw them defeat Aston Villa and Liverpool in to-and-fro encounters, and competed in the UEFA Cup for two consecutive seasons. But one feels that he was seduced by these successes, embracing a style and direction that would become the bedrock of his approach for years to come. Kevin Davies was the archetypal Allardyce centrepiece; foul machine, regular channel of the aerial attack, sporadic goal-scorer. No other player has conceded as many free-kicks as Davies in the history of the Premier League. For a striker, intermittently involved in the action, this is a spectacularly inane achievement.

    Once Allardyce left Bolton in 2007, Newcastle appointed him in the wake of Glenn Roeder’s departure. Promising early signings seemed to signal an attacking intent. The marauding Jose Enrique, the incendiary Joey Barton and Alan Smith from the respective Manchester clubs and the talented Geremi being captured from Chelsea helped to make up an exciting initial influx of playing personnel. Soon, however, disappointing results coupled with dour tactics got the Newcastle fan base on his back and Mike Ashley swung his perennially razor-sharp managerial axe, less than eight months into their relationship.

    A spell at Blackburn followed from 2008 and Allardyce again drew some good performances from the squad initially, finishing 15th in his first season and 10th the year after. That summer, he ensured his name was circulated in regard to the England job, with Fabio Capello on thin ice following possibly the worst ever World Cup campaign for the England team, but the Italian steadfastly remained in his post. The following season brought some of the most hilariously narcissistic comments you might ever have heard from the mouth of ‘Big’ Sam, when he claimed he should be managing clubs of the calibre of Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Manchester United, and the title would be guaranteed every season if he were in such a position. Unfortunately for him these calls were not answered and when Blackburn were taken over by Venkys, the Indian Chicken giants, neither did they share Sam’s confidence and he was dismissed in December 2010.

    It is widely-known that West Ham United are a club that insist on excellent football. When Allardyce first took over in the close season in 2011, a number of promises were made to the East London faithful. The traditions of the club were to be respected. Attractive football was on the agenda. Claims that he’d played long-ball football for a number of years were vigorously opposed, but it wasn’t difficult to see what was forthcoming when several members of Allardyce’s Bolton brigade were enlisted for the promotion push, achieved via the playoffs in his first season at the club. But Allardyce is nothing if not consistent; almost immediately, it was my-way-or-the-M25, defend in vast numbers and send the ball into the stratosphere. The big man at the epicentre of the attack, balls invariably jettisoned in his direction like objects entering the earth’s atmosphere and gravitating to his elevated bonce, almost forgetting what the texture of the grass feels like.

    And here we are now. Widespread revolt, even in triumph – an absurdity in any other circumstances. The boos and jeers heard at Upton Park last night would leave a lot of managers in a state of contemplation and self-reflection, but not Allardyce. There is a consistent refusal to acknowledge errors, with the blame for defeats being publicly shifted onto individuals. When addressing the media, never is a mistake accounted for personally. West Ham – everyone’s second team, the neutral’s team, famed for attractive, passing, youth-focussed football; reduced to a bland, anachronistic mess. The affair with Ravel Morrison, with Allardyce talking about non-existent injuries amid claims of him trying to coerce Morrison to change agents, do Allardyce no favours, most obviously in that his most talented player was initially marginalised and has now been sent out on loan to Queen’s Park Rangers. Their manager, Harry Redknapp, is the ideal boss for the troubled Morrison –the ultimate man-manager, the Sultan of sanguine sensitivity, the Mahatma Gandhi of moddycoddling. An arm round the shoulder, a whisper in the ear in that affable Cockney brogue and players feel like an adopted son, contented and playing like a dream, which for the most part is the case for the 21-year-old at this moment.

    And so the Hammers will rumble on, and once Premier League survival has been inevitably confirmed this season will be given a new slant; one-dimensional football coupled with inconsequential matches. Managers often talk about it being a results business, and Allardyce has now delivered the results. With no obligation to offer up anything different, and zero inclination to do so, games with no real significance replace games of vast importance but with the same dour approach. The reasons to not purchase a ticket are now twofold.

    West Ham are going to occupy the stunning Olympic Stadium in a couple of years. Akin to using a Formula One race car for a lifetime of popping down the shops, if Allardyce remains in charge the crowds will likely reduce from here and the stadium will seem cavernous (at least Tottenham, whom they were competing with for the opportunity to call the stadium home, are a laughably entertaining side for different reasons). The majority of West Ham fans I have spoken to are caught in the perennial Allardyce conundrum: Premier League survival, at the cost of your footballing soul.

    Ah well, there’s always next season.


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    Tony P
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    Re: Lowbrows, high balls and the Big Sam Paradox - Well said that man .....

    Post  Tony P on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 2:52 pm

    clap  clap
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    Campo
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    Re: Lowbrows, high balls and the Big Sam Paradox - Well said that man .....

    Post  Campo on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 8:15 pm

    Have to agree with pretty much most of that  clap 
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    SemiOldIron
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    Re: Lowbrows, high balls and the Big Sam Paradox - Well said that man .....

    Post  SemiOldIron on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 9:55 pm

    Let's hope Gold and Sullivan read it too. At some point we have to change direction, surely, and there will always be someone else in dire straits ready to welcome BFS, but I think we are going to have to live with him for at least another season however loud the booing gets.
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    Hungry Hammer 66
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    Re: Lowbrows, high balls and the Big Sam Paradox - Well said that man .....

    Post  Hungry Hammer 66 on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 10:22 pm

    Wow !!!
    Spot on and elequantly delivered, take a bow who ever you are

     clap 
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    westhamonkey
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    Re: Lowbrows, high balls and the Big Sam Paradox - Well said that man .....

    Post  westhamonkey on Mon 31 Mar 2014, 5:13 am

    if that's "eloquent" then someone needs a dictionary and a lesson in creative writing.

    it's not only poorly written and disingenuous - but honestly... as much as I like to believe the same foolishness we all do... when was the last time we actually saw this "beautiful" football we're all supposed to be so aghast at losing?

    Under Grant?
    Under Curbishley?
    Under Zola?
    Under Pardew?
    Under Lyall? even he got us relegated so the football weren't exactly 'academy standard all the time.
    (if you look at the wikipedia page for us... the 'glory years' were Greenwood and a bit of Lyall... 1961-1975) - before the majority of the whiners and boozers were even born methinks.

    sad truth is - there's actually been some times this season that we've actually seen clever passing, dynamic movement and 'beautiful' football under the stewardship of Mr Allardyce.

    It's been way too few and far between in its appearances but it's been there.

    And that's the problem with West Ham United - and it's been the problem for as long as I can remember watching them - some 40+ years now...

    We're rarely, if ever, the same team twice.

    As I've said on countless occasions. the same (or majorly same) 11 players who destroy the top teams or outplay the opposition off the park then turn up the following saturday and get slaughtered by a relegation certainty or a third division mid table bunch of semi-pros.

    It's galling, unfathomable, insultingly annoying... but THAT more than anything else seems to be the West Ham way.

    Laying the blame at the feet of a middle-aged northerner seems to miss the point as elegantly as we miss the goal or one of our team mates when passing.


    Last edited by westhamonkey on Mon 31 Mar 2014, 5:19 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : cos me spelling sucks but at least I notice and try to make it better)
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    manurewa hammer
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    Re: Lowbrows, high balls and the Big Sam Paradox - Well said that man .....

    Post  manurewa hammer on Mon 31 Mar 2014, 7:12 am

    I tend to agree Monk. Zola tried hard, and credit too him. Grant was a disaster, Pardew a dictator ( Refer Stevie Bacons book), Curbs out of his depth. Sam, at least knows what is needed to win and survive. I'll take another 2 years of premier league footy any way we can get it hatsoff 
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    Hungry Hammer 66
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    Re: Lowbrows, high balls and the Big Sam Paradox - Well said that man .....

    Post  Hungry Hammer 66 on Mon 31 Mar 2014, 7:28 am

    westhamonkey wrote:if that's "eloquent" then someone needs a dictionary and a lesson in creative writing.

    it's not only poorly written and disingenuous - but honestly... as much as I like to believe the same foolishness we all do... when was the last time we actually saw this "beautiful" football we're all supposed to be so aghast at losing?

    Under Grant?
    Under Curbishley?
    Under Zola?
    Under Pardew?
    Under Lyall? even he got us relegated so the football weren't exactly 'academy standard all the time.
    (if you look at the wikipedia page for us... the 'glory years' were Greenwood and a bit of Lyall... 1961-1975) - before the majority of the whiners and boozers were even born methinks.

    sad truth is - there's actually been some times this season that we've actually seen clever passing, dynamic movement and 'beautiful' football under the stewardship of Mr Allardyce.

    It's been way too few and far between in its appearances but it's been there.

    And that's the problem with West Ham United - and it's been the problem for as long as I can remember watching them - some 40+ years now...

    We're rarely, if ever, the same team twice.

    As I've said on countless occasions. the same (or majorly same) 11 players who destroy the top teams or outplay the opposition off the park then turn up the following saturday and get slaughtered by a relegation certainty or a third division mid table bunch of semi-pros.

    It's galling, unfathomable, insultingly annoying... but THAT more than anything else seems to be the West Ham way.

    Laying the blame at the feet of a middle-aged northerner seems to miss the point as elegantly as we miss the goal or one of our team mates when passing.


    "before the majority of the whiners and boozers were even born methinks." !!
    Eloquently put mate !!! lol
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    Suzanne Claret
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    Re: Lowbrows, high balls and the Big Sam Paradox - Well said that man .....

    Post  Suzanne Claret on Mon 31 Mar 2014, 10:35 am

    Well said westhamonkey.
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    Charlie Ham
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    Re: Lowbrows, high balls and the Big Sam Paradox - Well said that man .....

    Post  Charlie Ham on Mon 31 Mar 2014, 6:26 pm

    I found this a really good write up.

    Perhaps the owners will realise we have a problem when and if people stop buying season tickets.
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    RichB
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    Re: Lowbrows, high balls and the Big Sam Paradox - Well said that man .....

    Post  RichB on Mon 31 Mar 2014, 7:51 pm

    westhamonkey wrote:...honestly... as much as I like to believe the same foolishness we all do... when was the last time we actually saw this "beautiful" football we're all supposed to be so aghast at losing?...

    I've been saying this for ages, here and on other forums. Hammers fans should take off the rose tinted glasses. We've not played "the West Ham way" since when, the 80's? Devonshire, Brooking, Cottee and McAvennie? (and yes, as a supporter I go back to 1964 so I'm allowed ;-) )
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    westhamonkey
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    Re: Lowbrows, high balls and the Big Sam Paradox - Well said that man .....

    Post  westhamonkey on Tue 01 Apr 2014, 12:17 am


    exactly Rich... looking back at the stats... Morley and Clive allen scored 40 goals in a season so you'd be forgiven for thinking we must have looked like we had Sterling and Suarez playing for us... but gawd luv 'im... all I remember about Morley besides the dodgy haircut and the unfounded rumors was his uncanny ability to back into an opposition defender and win a free kick.

    Hardly makes me confuse us with the likes of Brazil or Barcelona.
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    Tony P
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    Re: Lowbrows, high balls and the Big Sam Paradox - Well said that man .....

    Post  Tony P on Tue 01 Apr 2014, 9:08 pm

    More of the "same" here


    • West Ham boo-boys are well within their rights… their club is being turned into Bolton 2.0
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    Date: 1st April 2014 at 6:47 pm
    Written by [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] | [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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    Last week, [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] recorded a home victory against Hull City that all-but-mathematically-confirmed their [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] status for next season.
    Yet the result, 2-1, that was decided by a Hammers penalty and a James Chester own goal, and the performance, in which  the Hammers recorded just three shots on target against a ten-man Tigers side, was met by a rapture of echoing boos around Upton Park.
    Living up to the role of pantomime villain – a status he’s often endured amongst the East London faithful – like a ‘heel’ character of WWE’s squared-circle,  Sam Allardyce put his hand to his ear cupping the chorus of discontent, part mockingly and part in disbelief.
    Accordingly,  a variety of leading figures in the West Ham community, ranging from David Gold and Karen Brady to England 1966 hero Martin Peters and erm… Dean Windass… have condemned the Boleyn boo-boys. Considering this was perhaps  the most  important result in the Hammers’ season thus far, that position is certainly understandable.
    But so is that of the Upton Park support, whom, whether their vocal militance was poor-fitting for the occasion or not, have not had their justified arguments fairly represented.
    The issue is one of style of play. Sam Allardyce has become synonymous with long-ball, territorial, attrition football, perhaps best illustrated by his adoration for goal-shy, work-horse strikers such as Andy Carroll and Kevin Davies over the years.  Jose Mourinho hit the nail on the head when he dubbed Big Sam’s tactics as ’19th Century’ back in January. Another synonym for those philosophical soundbites would be simply ‘boring’ or ‘negative’ football.
    The stats abide; West Ham have averaged just 42% possession and three shots on target per match this season, whilst only 61% of their goals have come from open play. If control of the ball dictated league standing, the Hammers would be 19th; if shots on target did the same, they’d be 18th; but if it were determined by long-balls, they’d be sixth, and if it were decided by clean sheets, the East London side would be second.
    In a nutshell, if you were a Premier League neutral deciding upon which ground to enjoy a Saturday afternoon of appetising football, it wouldn’t be Upton Park.  The Hammers haven’t scored more than three goals in a home fixture all season, and even that rarity has occurred just thrice since the summer, so you can imagine why Boleyn season ticket holders are struggling to hold back their discontent.
    In the context of the Premier League, you can’t be too picky about how you survive. Last term there were just 13 points separating 18th place Wigan and eighth-place West Bromwich Albion, and the margins between success and failure are only growing smaller in the top flight. Other clubs, and subsequently fan-bases, certainly wouldn’t turn their nose up at having the Premier League’s most seasoned and established relegation battler in their dugout, attritional football or not.
    West Ham however, is not just another rank and file Premier League side.
    I agree with Sam Allardyce’s declaration in 2012 that the notion of an official ‘West Ham way’ is more of a terrace myth than on-pitch reality; in truth, the Hammers have fought as ugly and impurely as anybody else to maintain their Premier League status over the years. Tomas Repka, Nigel Reo-Coker and Bobby Zamora are hardly what you’d describe as tica-taca enthusiasts.
    Yet at the same time, the Upton Park institution  once produced a batch of home-grown talents that quickly became the most technically-gifted England internationals of their generation; Rio Ferdinand was an almost continental defender in his younger years, Michael Carrick is one of a rare few midfielders in the Three Lions roster that has any understanding of the importance of keeping possession, Frank Lampard is the Premier League’s all-time leading midfield goalscorer, and Joe Cole’s grace-like movement, trickery and creativity on the ball, especially in a central capacity, went unreplicated until the rise of Adam Lallana this season.
    If there was a coherent West Ham identity prior to Allardyce’s 2011 arrival, it was centred around local young talent, and optimistic, enthusiastic football. Dodgey defending undoubtedly played its part, and to suggest Upton Park was an aesthetic institution of the Swansea City variety would certainly be untrue, but naively or not, the Hammers’ traditional forte echoed the simple Kevin Keegan mantra of ‘we’ll score more than you’. Goals were provided by the likes of Paolo Di Canio, Jermain Defoe, Teddy Sheringham, Dean Ashton and Freddy Kanoute, to name a few.
    Fast forward to the present day, and that lethal bunch has been replaced by Andy Carroll and Carlton Cole – two strikers whose booking statistics far exceed that of their goalscoring tallies.
    Likewise, the Hammers’ local contingent has been swapped for a gang of Allardyce allies from up north; £15million spent on big Andy, the industrious Kevin Nolan instantly made club captain upon his East London arrival in summer 2011, Joey O’Brien and Jussi Jaaskelainen both joining the Hammers from Bolton Wanderers, in addition to Ricardo Vaz Te via a short stay at Barnsley.
    Allardyce’s version of promoting youth players is giving them a sink-or-swim test in the FA Cup. Featuring eight players from the youth squad in their starting line-up, West Ham lost 5-0 to Nottingham Forest in the auxiliary tournament earlier this term, and the next generation of Hammers youngsters breaking through looks set to be completely wasted due to the fact they don’t fit in with the Allardyce ideology.
    At first, Hammers fans were prepared to accept the culture shock, but now their club is being slowly turned into Bolton 2.0. Eventually, Allardyce’s territorial, lump-it-and-chase-it tactics saw the Reebok side finish 6th in the Premier League, but as they found out just a handful of campaigns later, and as Stoke City chairman Pete Coates came to realise towards the end of last season, that style of play is  unsustainable.
    As much as the Boleyn boo-brigade are jeering at the present philosophical state they find their club in, their chorus of apathy is also sourced from fears of its immediate future. In 2016, the Hammers will adopt a new home in the form of the Olympic stadium, a ground which will give them a greater capacity than Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.
    Yet, rather adopting a style of play befitting of these European sides, one of the largest grounds in England, belonging to one of its most historic clubs,  will be home to a brand of football that wouldn’t seem out of place in League One. The longer Allardyce insists upon this tactical policy, the harder it will be to evolve from it; you can’t imagine too many players of European standard or continental quality on the ball seeing their footballing futures at a club whose biggest strength remains ruthless organisation out of possession.
    West Ham fans shouldn’t take Allardyce’s ability for granted, but the relationship is a two-way street. The Upton Park faithful have always been a militant bunch, yet their intense bond with the club and divine loyalty is becoming increasingly unique in the modern era.
    Perhaps they are overly ambitious, perhaps they are ungrateful, perhaps they set their standards too high, but the club belongs to them more than it does Sam Allardyce, and right now, their wishes and desires are being repetitively ignored. Having now endured three campaigns of fan-unfriendly football at Upton Park without any suggestion of evolution or change from their manager, the West Ham faithful are well within their rights to boo.
    As JFK once said; “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable.” The West Ham boss can’t ignore the supporters for much longer, or could have a full mutiny on his hands.

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