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Monday Musings: A taste of your own medicine

Filed: Monday, 29th February 2016
By: Graeme Howlett

The press room at the Boleyn Ground was unusually busy on Saturday afternoon as the media assembled to witness former manager Sam Allardyce's return to the East End.

However those journalists who were present expecting to report on 'Big Sam's savaging by ungrateful West Ham supporters' were to be left disappointed. Not a single boo or jeer - nor any kind of negative chant, for that matter - was aimed at Slaven Bilic's predecessor as the Hammers secured three more vital Premier League points against Allardyce's new club, Sunderland.

Instead, supporters used the occasion to mark their appreciation of Bilic's regime by chanting HIS name on numerous occasions times during the match - a gesture that was rarely if ever offered to the abrasive Allardyce. (Excepting perhaps the 2012 play-off final when fans adapted ad hoc the chorus of Coldplay's 'Paradise' to 'Alla, Alla, Alladyce'!)

West Ham - who with Bilic's guidance have been transformed into genuine contenders for a European spot - struggled to get out of second gear against their relegation-threatened opponents but still managed to grab a win thanks to Michail Antonio's excellent first half strike, his fifth since joining West Ham back in September.

And although they were on the backfoot for much of the second period, Bilic's side did just about enough to keep the Black Cats at bay - although it should be noted that West Ham also hit the woodwork twice (via Mark Noble and Andy Carroll efforts) and had a very decent penalty appeal ignored by referee Mike Dean.

Still, there was something quite ironic about winning this particular fixture by one goal to nil, with a backs-to-the-wall ending; it could be said that Bilic simply out-Allardyce'd Sam Allardyce!

The win takes West Ham back above Southampton and Manchester United into fifth spot in the Premier League. And it's to the latter that the Hammers will return for a second time this season for the quarter finals of the FA Cup, the draw for which was made last Sunday following West Ham's 5-1 fifth round demolition of Blackburn.

Allocated just shy of 10,000 tickets, West Ham sold their entire quota for next month's tie at Old Trafford within 24 hours. Fans, thousands of whom were left ticketless and disappointed genuinely believe that Bilic's team have a genuine chance of reaching the semi finals this year - despite being granted what would traditionally be perceived as one of the toughest away draws.

Additionally, West Ham's FA Cup pedigree against the Red Devils is impressive having beaten them at the fifth round (1986) and semi final (1964) stages previously. And who can forget Paolo Di Canio scoring a 76th-minute, fourth round winner at Old Trafford in January 2001 as goalkeeper Fabien Barthez hailed an imaginary taxi?

Language, Geoffrey

On an equally humorous note supporters who stayed in their seats during Saturday's half time interval were treated to a foul-mouthed outburst by a possibly-inebriated Sir Geoff Hurst during a pitch-side interview, when asked to recall his double hat-trick against Sunderland back in 1968 .

Referring to Brian 'Stag' Dear, who had scored five goals within just 20 minutes three years earlier in April 1965, Hurst momentarily forgot where he was when expressing his delight at having usurped his former team mate's particular landmark.

* An abridged version of this article first appeared in the Echo newspaper.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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