Sam Allardyce, the West Ham United manager, knows that he must minimise the pressure on his players after they dropped into the bottom three of the Premier League on Boxing Day. Their first chance comes at lunchtime today at home to West Bromwich Albion, who are only three points better off.
“The outside world delivers pressure about relegation threat, relegation zones, relegation this, relegation that,” he said. “We’ve had a few six-pointers already this season, so we have to make sure we end up with a result and a win if we possibly can to close the gap on the teams above us. It is critical for us because that would be 17 points after 19 games, which is still not enough but at least it is a start.”
Allardyce faces some added pressure from West Ham’s need to be in the top flight when they move into the Olympic Stadium in Stratford in 2016, but he doubts it is at the forefront of his players’ minds – and he wants to keep it that way. “We all know what a disaster it is not to be in the Premier League and it is a bigger disaster than ever before because the money has gone through the roof again,” he said. “We’ve all got that to cope with, or I have, and make sure the players continue to go out and give all that they’ve got and try to enjoy their football.”
The latest target date for the return of Andy Carroll is 18 January, when West Ham host Newcastle, but Allardyce still hopes to sign two players in the transfer window. Mladen Petric is being released to make space in the 25-man squad and the renewal of Carlton Cole’s short-term contract could also be affected. “If we have got two additions in January, my concern is to make sure they can hit the ground running. That is a massive, massive task in this window, but we have to try and achieve it.
“I can’t tell you when Andy Carroll will be back, I am not medically qualified, but there is no fear he won’t play again this season.”
Allardyce hopes to sign two players month transfer and hinted that he may look abroad. “It would help if they had Premier League experience, but you have to take the CV of a player if they are from abroad, if he is a top, top player in the countries he has played, like a Youri Djorkaeff. He kept me up at Bolton many, many years ago when I was in this position. A player with an impact like that would be important [for] everybody at the club.”