What a difference a month makes

Big Sam always knew it would come to this. One month ago he was being hailed a tactical genius, now the knives are out.

There is no leeway for Sam now, and he knows it. Most West Ham fans accept he has done a decent job at the Boleyn, getting us back into the top flight and keeping us there (for the moment).

That has produced grudging respect, but as soon as it starts to go wrong - and this is his one real poor spell at the club - Sam has real problems.

Now Sam must realise you are only as good as your last result, the rest is history. Last summer's transfer window shambles left us with no serious strikers signed, that was everyone's fault; Brady, Sullivan, Gold, Sam and anyone involved in transfer dealings, including the agents Big Sam runs with.

Get it wrong in January and there will be no hiding place. Lose on Saturday to Chelsea and we will be ten points worse off than last term on like for like results. No pressure there then, Sam.

Back in early October, West Ham fans world-wide were overjoyed with the remarkable victory at Spurs, but from the moment the whistle final blew at Carrow Road after that shocking second-half cave in against Norwich, Allardyce knew what was coming.

The battle scared old grump has found grudging respect at the Boleyn for producing promotion and a 10th place finish, but when you are not truly loved then there is no breathing space for a manager.

And Sam would know that. The situation has not been helped by a painful fortnight before the next match - Saturday's mighty-tough home clash with Chelsea. It has given too much time for the corpse to be picked over, too much soul searching, too much time to look for scapegoats, for people to blame.

I cannot recall an away defeat for a very long time that has caused so much anguish from fans who are not unused to seeing us lose away games!

The reason, of course, is that expectations have been heightened, there was also so much resting on the Norwich match, so much to lose. And after that outstanding first-half, our best away half of the campaign, the collapse was so much harder to take.

And Sam knew he would get it in the neck, so polarised is opinion about his management style amongst Irons fans. From being hailed a genius, he has seen suggestions that "if he is going to be sacked, do it now", as well as "has Sam still got the backing of West Ham fans?"



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The flack has been flying, and others have got caught in the crossfire, none more so than Jussi Jaaskelainen. Ok, he dropped a clanger, a big one. But all goalkeepers do. Even by far England's best young goalkeeper, Joe Hart, has had a torrid time this campaign.

But our man does not deserve such Twitter abuse. He is to my mind the best free transfer for years. He has kept us in games the way Peter Schmeichel used to keep Manchester United in matches. I was surprised that Sam spent so much time being critical of Jussi after the Norwich shocker, it does not help and managers are not expected to be that critical of one man after a game. It should be kept in house.

What we do not need is Jussi losing his confidence, he doesn't deserve that. I hope he gets a top, top welcome from our fans on Saturday when he trots out against Chelsea.

Jussi dropped a cross, even he probably still can't believe that, but he is also getting stick for conceding long range free-kicks. He would be helped more if defenders like serial offender James Collins tried not to concede cheap free-kicks 25 yards out, it is happening over and over again.

Although I understand the anguish of my fellow fans after Norwich, I have been surprised at the level of vitriol. Surely the key now is to stick together and not turn on certain players - anyone infact - it's not their fault the club have left them without a striker. At the moment Carlton Cole, Mladen Petric and Modibo Maiga do not count!

I have always considered myself a football realist, who understands the modern game. I may not like all of it, certainly not the vast sums that go to the big clubs (thanks for that BT) that is producing a very uncompetitive competition. And I respect the professionalism of Big Sam.

I saw all the greats of the sixties, which is more than many who moan on about our football heritage, and I saw their failings too. Just like I can usually see and understand Sam's decisions.

But the next few weeks when we play Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs, will see our football destiny unfold and be much clearer.

I don't see the point of changing managers mid-term, it rarely works because of the total upheaval of the staff on and off the pitch.

I believe with Andy Carroll back, Winston Reid fit and Joe Cole maintaining his fitness levels, we will survive in the top flight. But we need three or four new players, mainly strikers, and whether Sam can achieve that in January will dictate his future too.

And just think how happy we all were just a few weeks ago.

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