Manchester City v West Ham: Sam Allardyce relieved to have pressure off for one night in the Capital One Cup semi-final

West Ham manager happy to turn attention away from relegation battle for semi-final date with Manchester City

For West Ham United, Wednesday night's clash with Manchester City is an exercise in damage limitation. Sam Allardyce will task his patched-up side with fighting to keep the Capital One Cup semi-final alive into the second leg before attention switches to Saturday's trip to Cardiff, the "biggest game of the season" according to Matt Taylor.

Boosted by the return to fitness of key players – possibly even the rarely sighted Andy Carroll – the Hammers will fight on another front in the bigger battle to stay in the Premier League. But then everybody inside and outside Upton Park knows what has happened to the best-laid plans of Allardyce and his men in weeks gone by.

The League Cup is a happy oddity in West Ham's season, a silver lining amid the storm clouds. They have won more games in the competition than in the league.

The triumph at Tottenham in the quarter-finals is the sole occasion in which they have come from behind to win this season – Taylor could not remember the previous time the side had managed such a recovery (it was against Chelsea in December 2012).

Allardyce has made his priorities for the week quite clear. Sunday's "done and dusted" FA Cup humiliation was bottom of the list. At the Etihad is next best and Cardiff top priority, but for the moment it is about City and the allure of going to Wembley for a cup final, a journey the club have not made since 1981.

Allardyce spoke of the "great joy" of experiencing a Wembley cup final, as he did when he was in charge of Bolton a decade ago.

"We are in a very exciting cup tie with a massive, massive feeling of joy at the end of it if, as big as the underdogs that we are, we can get to Wembley," the manager said. "We don't have the same pressure we experience in the Premier League, that is for certain. We don't have to beat them on Wednesday. We have to come back with something realistic to beat them at home if we can."

Allardyce remains under no illusions how difficult it will be to get that "day out" at Wembley nor that it is what happens after the semi-final first leg, once West Ham have flown back south to begin preparations for Cardiff, that will decide his own future.

By 2 March, the day of the cup final, he could be out of a job whether West Ham are there or not. The clubs surrounding West Ham in the league have all dismissed their managers. On Monday the club's co-chairmen, David Gold and David Sullivan, supported theirs.

"Their track record proves they haven't rushed into anything," said Allardyce, admitting he was grateful for the public backing. "Over the last 18-20 years, the managers they've had, they've given them a good chance and stuck by them when things are not going so well.

"The reactions [of club owners in general] are getting quicker and quicker and quicker due to the impatience throughout the game for success. Success isn't built overnight. History tells you continually changing managers doesn't mean success. But I'm realistic to know I have to get results particularly quickly. In the end, we all know what happens if you don't get results as a manager."

Taylor insisted that for all the external "furore" surrounding Allardyce and the club, inside all is calm. "In-house everything is pretty buoyant," he said. "I don't believe there is a manager out there you would [rather have] in charge at this precise moment.

"You look at the teams he has managed, you look at the success he has had as a manager in keeping teams in the Premier League. I don't think I need to sit here and tell you his strong points – they are there for everybody to see."

Roger Johnson, who trained with the team for the first time following his arrival on loan from Wolves, is set to make his debut with Allardyce anxious to add more height to his back line; he highlighted City's aerial and physical threat.

Mark Noble may be fit to play at City and certainly against Cardiff as the injury crisis eases. James Collins and James Tomkins should be ready for Cardiff too and, most encouraging of all for Allardyce, Carroll could be on the bench as early as Saturday. That, at any rate, is the plan.

Pellegrini prepared for Hammers backlash

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini expects his under-fire West Ham counterpart Sam Allardyce to bounce back from his weekend FA Cup humiliation.

A youthful Hammers team were thrashed 5-0 by Championship side Nottingham Forest on Sunday, increasing pressure on Allardyce, but Pellegrini is reading little into that result ahead of the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg.

Pellegrini said: "They had an awful result but they played with young players. I am absolutely sure this will be a very different game."

Kick-off 7.45pm

Television Sky Sports 1

Referee J Moss (Tyne & Wear)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links