Manchester City v West Ham: Victory not crucial for Sam Allardyce

The Hammers are struggling in the Premier League and were beaten 5-0 in the FA Cup

Sam Allardyce insists it is not win or bust for his out-of-form Hammers when they visit Manchester City in the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final on Wednesday night.

With a 5-0 FA Cup mauling at Nottingham Forest coming on the back of a run of one win in 13 Barclays Premier League games, the final four meeting with City is a welcome distraction for Allardyce's side.

The dismal December run means West Ham sit 19th in the league but Allardyce will not be too downbeat if his side fail to pick up a rare win at the Etihad Stadium and just wants to remain in the tie.

"We don't have to beat them on Wednesday night," he said.

"We have to come back with something realistic to beat them at home if we can. We have to stay as focused as we can and we have to nullify what is a great attacking force at home. Everybody knows what that is and how good that is."

Allardyce has cited the example of Crystal Palace, who pushed City all the way in a 1-0 defeat in December.

He said: "We have to work along the lines of what Crystal Palace did recently which was be very well organised, be a very well structured team that makes it extremely difficult for the talents that Manchester City have got.

"Hopefully we can do that on Wednesday night and when we come to the end of the game it's only half-time at that stage."

The 59-year-old fielded an inexperienced side at Forest with just 14 available first-team players and, with his current injury plight, Allardyce cannot enjoy the semi-final experience as much as he would like.

"I would have preferred it to come with a lot more players fit and not in this position that we're in at the moment but we have to face the reality of what comes along in football," he added.

"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 game is and the underdogs that we are, we believe that we can get there and believe that we can get to Wembley.

"With a bit of luck, a bit of fortune and the right amount of organisation, desire and commitment from the players we feel as though we can give it our best shot.

"We don't have the same pressure we experience in the Premier League that is for certain. It is a competition where we know at this time it is over two legs, in the earlier stages you say 'it is either win or we are out'."

West Ham's co-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold issued an open letter to fans on Monday confirming their support for Allardyce, who was happy to receive the backing.

"I'm obviously pleased by the united front we are trying to keep under these difficult times at the moment," he said.

"When it comes public from the co-chairmen it is nice to see and hear. From our point of view we are all understanding the difficult position we are in at the moment.

"We all have to work through it together in the hope that we turn it around into a positive reaction in terms of our results."

Roger Johnson, signed on loan from Wolves for the remainder of the season, will go straight into the squad which travels to Manchester as the 30-year-old adds much-needed strength to Allardyce's defence.

"The one big thing about Roger is his Premier League experience at Birmingham City," he said.

"His height, which has been a weak point for us recently, and a desire to come and show he has still got the capabilities of coming to play at this level.

"He is not cup-tied, so going into one of the biggest games of the season for us with someone with his experience against one of the biggest sides in the Premier League is a help.

"If you look across the board at Man City, aerially we have to be very competent and Roger will be a great help in that area particularly.

"He is very determined and excited about the opportunity he has got after being basically frozen out at Wolves."

Allardyce confirmed club-record signing Andy Carroll is closing in on a long-awaited return to action but will not be ready for Manchester City.

Skipper Kevin Nolan is suspended with James Tomkins, Winston Reid, James Collins and Ricardo Vaz Te also absent.

Allardyce is hopeful Mark Noble may have recovered from a calf injury to play some part in the tie

"Andy is training today," Allardyce confirmed.

"Hopefully we'll see him on the bench in the next week or so. Mark Noble is the biggest chance we have got to recover and be able to play tomorrow which would be a bonus for us."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss