If the last resort of the scoundrel is patriotism, you know a football manager is running out of straws when the praise is out of proportion to the achievement. Sam Allardyce has reached that point.
Faced with another victory turned into a draw by panicky finishing and a deficit of imagination, the Blackburn Rovers manager abandoned laments about missed opportunities and went on a determined pursuit of the positive.
"I couldn't have asked for more," he said – a surprise as neutrals could have listed several deficiencies. An attack plan that stretched beyond the optimistic long ball, for example, or a piece of trickery from Morten Gamst Pedersen more legitimate than his risible attempt at conning the referee at Arsenal. Neither were forthcoming.
True, Blackburn were unfortunate the linesman did not spot Luis Boa Morte offside in the build up to Mark Noble's opener for West Ham United, but that did not exonerate a team who squandered momentum from Keith Andrews' equaliser in the 51st minute.
Allardyce is no fool but having brandished the stick he tried the carrot. "We would have liked to carry this impetus into next week," he said lamenting that internationals mean Rovers will not meet Tottenham until 4 April. Then again, as Spurs have beaten Aston Villa and Chelsea in their last two matches, perhaps he should count his blessings.
One of which is Chris Samba, who caused incessant problems for West Ham whenever he advanced. "He's a player who strikes fear throughout the Premier League by his aerial power in the opposition's box," Allardyce said.
Samba is an asset likely to be lured away if Blackburn are relegated this season. Rovers supporters will draw few straws of comfort from that.
Goals: Noble (35) 0-1; Andrews (51) 1-1.
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Robinson; Ooijer (Andrews, h-t), Samba, Nelsen, Givet; Diouf, Mokoena, Warnock, Pedersen; Roberts, McCarthy. Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), Khizanishvili, Villanueva, Dunn, Tugay, Treacy.
West Ham United (4-3-2-1): Green; Spector, Tompkins, Neill, Ilunga; Kovac, Parker, Noble; Boa Morte (Lopez, 79), Di Michele (Dyer, 82); Tristan (Payne, 89). Substitutes not used: Lastuvka (gk), Sears, N'Gala, Stanislas.
Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).
Booked: Blackburn Nelsen, Mokoena. West Ham Parker.
Man of the match: Samba.
Attendance: 21,672Reuse content