We're 'big fat Sam's claret and blue army' - and we might win away games

After two terrible seasons of incompetence on the pitch and misery for the fans, times just have to be a' changing.

Many feel that some while ago we lost the right to dictate the type and style of football West Ham have to play, such has been the disaster of form, results and relegation.

Don't forget it has been 14 wins from 76 league games and just three away wins in those two depressing seasons. Trying to play pretty football without the tools needed to achieve such lofty aims, sees us back in the Championship after our second relegation in nine years.

Relegation is such a disaster these days in terms of finance squad decimation, there has to be a streak of reality through any club, you can't just whine on about playing passing football while accepting that we concede three goals a game. That's a recipe for disaster, as we have discovered.

When we went down in 1978 with a team including Billy Bonds, Frank Lampard, Alvin Martin, Pat Holland, David Cross, Trevor Brooking, Bryan Robson, Alan Curbishley and Alan Devonshire, all of those players were still at the club the following season. Times have changed.

So it falls to Sam Allardyce to take us back to the top flight before any further damage is done to our finances.

Look at what has happened to Sheffield United (now stop laughing) since the parachute payments have stopped, if not the ridiculous hand-outs we are still giving them.

Sam is clearly not everyone's cup of tea, never has been. In my dealings with him working in the north west, he has been the most self-confident, driven, defiant, smug, infuriating, successful managers I've known.

I've listened to the likes of Arsene Wenger and Rafa Benitez - who just hated his snearing local rival - rant and rave about Sam's tactics. They despised them, and that is because they achieved results.

Allardyce was never slow is saying that he didn't have the money to compete with Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea etc, so he had to devise a style that got little old Bolton enough points to stay up. But he could never hide a smirk when a big club were mugged at the Reebok.

He fell out badly with a friend of mine, BBC's Alan Green, who dared to say that he would not pay to watch Bolton. I understand what he meant. But then that's an easy assessment to make from the press box, where lofty ideals do not have to pay the mortgage.

I recall one rant from Wenger about Bolton's time wasting and use of substitutions late in a game. Sam just said he didn't see anything in the rules that said a player has to sprint off the pitch!

It was a snearing, bloody-minded put down which probably upset Wenger even more. But then nobody questions that the Frenchman uses a nasty (but talented) hatchet man, Alexandre Song, in the Gunners' midfield without a hint of apology.

Allardyce claims that his long ball label has come from criticism by top managers whose skin he has got under. We could have done with someone to get under the skin of top clubs at our place, league points against Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool have been pretty rare these past few years.

I had already renewed my season ticket for next season knowing it could be Big Sam, and what to expect. And that is I want to see far fewer goals going into our net because of disgraceful defending, I want to travel away believing we can get results. I was lucky this season, I saw us win at Blackpool, prior to that it was a league win at Stoke in May 2009.

It hasn't been pretty, nor was the football we've played. I feel there is a large body of fans now who couldn't give a monkeys about the style debate, they want to see West Ham win and be taken seriously again.

It all ended painfully for Sam at Newcastle - where his style and reputation was not accepted. At Blackburn he had them in the top half when he was sacked .

The reason for that departure had much to do with the new Indian owners taking advice on players from agents Sam did not work with. Sounds a bit familiar, that! I heard he was given a list of six players the new owners wanted, and Sam didn't want any of them.

You would hope that Sam has enough about him, and nobody can surely doubt that, to make it very clear he handles transfers and dealings with agents (like Barry Silkman) and also that he knows clearly who his boss is. He can't allow himself to be answerable to Brady, Sullivan and Gold all at the same time.

Sam will have his own team, his trusted backroom coaches and technical staff and he will sign players he trusts to do a job properly. I hope too that Kevin Keen and Steve Lomas are retained in some capacity, and that Tony Carr at the academy is left alone to continue his work.

But there will be big changes, Sam has virtually a blank canvas now to sort out the mess we are in.

You can only hope that he does not privately see this post as one last big pay day where he has little to lose and a short(er) term contract than his predecessors. He is already a rich man and admitted to considering retirement or a job in the Middle East (much the same thing really).

But deep down he is still a determined man. He has been brushed aside by England, dumped by Newcastle and Blackburn and labelled as just a long ball merchant.

But he knows the game, the market and how the wheels of football turn, which is more than could be said for the likes of Roeder, Zola and Grant.

If he could prove everyone wrong at West Ham, make us hard to beat, resilient and competitive (when did any of us see much of that) then he will win over the Boleyn fans.

What must not happen is that he arrives with a fractious support awaiting him, people who believe West Ham somehow hold the rights to entertaining football.

Certain things have to be sacrificed to get this club back where we all believe we should be, despite so many shocking performances to the contrary in recent seasons.

But we must be organised in defence, adhere to a team plan, be tactically aware (are you watching Avram Grant), work for the team and know how to stop opponents from being effective.

Even the best team on the planet last weekend showed how to play when they didn't, not often I accept, have the ball. Barcelona hunted down Manchester United's men in possession in packs. Three, four players swarming around an opponent to reclaim the ball.

I didn't see much swarming by our lot last season, and if nothing else, Allardyce can restore pride and belief right through the club.

We must all give him a chance, a fair crack of the whip. Trying also to understand where we are and what is now needed. I didn't like Sam much when his team were kicking, snarling and confronting opponents - and that's just him on the bench - but a bit of fight and desire in our team would not go amiss.

Good luck, Big Fat Sam.

* Like to share your thoughts on this article? Please visit the KUMB Forum to leave a comment.

More Opinion