Sam Allardyce is in no position to take issue with David Sullivan, an owner for whom the term quixotic could have been invented. The veneer of his acceptance as West Ham manager is so thin it is virtually translucent.
He is obliged to balance understandable resistance to Sullivan’s suggestion that West Ham’s season is a “write-off” with a practical assessment of the weaknesses of his case. There is justifiable doubt he will survive the season, let alone be around for the tenancy of the Olympic Stadium.
“David is in a position where he gets extremely anxious. It is the way he is as a person,” Allardyce acknowledged after a grim goalless draw against Sunderland which reinforced Sullivan’s acutely-timed questioning of the wisdom of placing inordinate faith in the haphazard fitness of Andy Carroll.
“The pressure comes on to him as much as it goes on to me. He looks after the football club. That is a huge commitment, going forward, and a big responsibility for us all. This club has to be in the Premier League, going into the Olympic Stadium. We have to make sure we sustain our place.”
When a club of West Ham’s limited horizons effectively sacrifice the chance of a League Cup semi-final place to prepare for a League visit to Old Trafford, the extent of the challenge becomes clear.
Allardyce confirmed his intention to select fringe players for Wednesday’s quarter-final tie against Tottenham at White Hart Lane. “We have to prepare to do what others have done, get points at Manchester United,” he said. “As much as I don’t like to admit it, that’s the more important game.”
The paucity of his attacking options also underlined the significance of next month’s transfer window. He is ready to extend his search for viable loanees to South America if his current sweep of the European market for an experienced striker is frustrated.
According to Allardyce, a foreign signing of appropriate quality will not countenance a move unless he is paid a “net” wage, to protect him from a tax burden. “That doubles the deal,” he admitted. “Most of the time that is beyond our financial capabilities.”
He was in no mood to appreciate the irony of the dilemma. West Ham might be guaranteed a new home, at questionable cost to the taxpayer, but in football, as in life, it is rare to get something for nothing. He might pay for his problems with his job.