Football Comment: Allardyce pivotal to West Ham’s form surge

Trevor Steven
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I bumped into Sam Allardyce last week and I’m really pleased that the players he brought in over the summer have been able to take the club to the next level. Everybody has enjoyed watching the Hammers over the years and it’s good to see a strong West Ham side.

West Ham are clearly playing with a different style of football and there is great pace in that side and they are playing with confidence. To find themselves in the top half and now the top four is fantastic.

They have flirted with Championship football a couple of times over the last six or seven years but stability is what any club wants. After stabilising the club Sam has been able to give it a little tweak and West Ham are now a team you want to sit down and watch. A couple of those goals on Saturday were terrific, good old-fashioned balls down the line with crosses and headers.

West Ham have the Olympic Stadium to look forward to and the manager is vital. People calling for his head should perhaps be careful what they wish for as he is so proven at Premier League level.

While he played the stats sometimes, Sam had really enterprising teams at Bolton and occasionally at Blackburn and had some really gifted footballers under his wing. That’s now being replicated at Upton Park and it’s refreshing to see.

Harry Redknapp’s post-match interview after QPR’s loss to Liverpool yesterday was quite startling and never over the years have I heard Harry refer to players not wanting to play and not caring about their job. They have such a lot to play for and they have got to keep battling. Their Premier League status is so vital to them so the pressure is there as a team but the extra pressure is a possible financial penalty for breaching Financial Fair Play should they go down.

It was important for Chelsea to win without goalscoring sensation Diego Costa but in all honesty it was a game you would expect Chelsea to win, with or without him. His most important contributions will come against the top five or six, we have already seen his impact in games against Arsenal and Everton. Jose Mourinho knows how to win football matches and they did what they had to do at Palace. We’ve heard his rhetoric and this is his team and the players he wanted.

The other team I would pick out is Arsenal, who are very much a momentum team but Arsene Wenger is struggling to get his first choicde team out on the pitch due to injuries. The big positive was Alexis Sanchez, who showed the type of qualities he will need to show if Arsenal are to be serious contenders.

Arsenal are not currently a serious contender and at the minute they need to hang on in there. Danny Welbeck’s last minute goal will keep their confidence to a certain degree. A 2-1 defeat to Hull could have been quite demoralising and that could have seen a poor run of results which is not what they need.