Allardyce proves substance can triumph over style

 

wembley

Whether the news of West Ham's play-off final victory reaches the Blackburn Rovers owners, Venky's, in India may be irrelevant, but the man they sacked weeks after taking control at Ewood Park has proved what a bad decision they made. Sam Allardyce, 18 months after being unfairly jilted, is back in the Premier League. And deservedly so, as his Hammers side picked their moment, minutes from the end, to score the decisive £56 million goal.

For all David Gold's lavish spending on identified transfer targets, Allardyce still had a mountainous job on his hands when he arrived. Lifting the club off its knees post-relegation and, perhaps more poignantly, post-Avram Grant, was not the easy task those outside East London circles might have had you believe.

"I suffered two sackings that were harsh to say the least. I'm still achieving great things," Allardyce said, referring to his previous sacking by Newcastle. "I don't like seeing Blackburn going down, but they have done since I managed them. I must have done alright while I was there."

Clearly Gold and his business partner, David Sullivan, picked the right man. Sam's football is not as pure as that of yesterday's opposite number, Ian Holloway, but it is wholly effective. Had it not been for a surprising poor run of form at Upton Park, United would have finished the season in the automatic promotion places with questions surrounding style rendered moot.

But, as it was, Allardyce had to do it through the end-of-season lottery. Due a harder test, after brushing aside Cardiff City with laughable ease, he got one.

Blackpool will count themselves hugely unfortunate, having looked for much of the second half as if they would secure promotion themselves. Had it not been for early missed chances, it would have been Holloway's day.

"Some things in life are a little bit harsh, it certainly feels like that at the moment," the Seasiders' manager said. "I feel aggrieved. On another day we would've taken those chances."

The reason for Allardyce's sacking at Blackburn was the style in which he played the game. Not pretty enough, apparently. What Rovers supporters would now give for someone tactically wired to win matches of football. After months of discussion about whether his ideology is what they want, even the most ardent purist among Hammers supporters must believe that the person leading West Ham into the Premier League is the right man.

"You always get criticised in football. It's a minority at West Ham but they make themselves heard," said Allardyce.

But after the final whistle, as a Coldplay anthem, "Paradise", boomed out of the speakers, supporters close by tweaked the chorus to fit Allardyce's name. Although that was obviously of the moment, there are the signs of a genuine bond. As they warm to the manager, his toughest job will be managing the astronomically high expectations. The club's main aim must be to survive in what could be the most difficult Premier League yet. The graceful way Allardyce reacted to Howard Webb's final whistle indicated that he might just be able to do so.

Do not underestimate what a massive result this was on a personal level. With the club's expenditure funding an assault on promotion, there would have been serious questions raised over Allardyce's management had Blackpool prevailed. Some of the better players – James Tomkins for example – would certainly have been subject of bids from bigger clubs to test Gold's financial resolve, in light of the Financial Fair Play regulations.

"The Fair Play league would have been a huge problem and outstandingly devastating. According to the owners, we would have decimated our wage bill by £10m," Allardyce said, relief etched all over his face.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
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.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?