So, following the final day of the season, West Ham have announced that Sam Allardyce is leaving the club, with no contract offer having been extended to the manager.
In truth, it’s perhaps the least surprising news of the year. But for fans who’ve followed Allardyce’s career for some time, it does leave rather a sour taste in the mouth.
You see, Allardyce isn’t necessarily the most likeable man. He doesn’t play the most attractive football, and his media ‘persona’ hints at a man who has a pretty high opinion of himself.
And yet, one has to ask the question of whether West Ham have behaved acceptably in their dealings with the manager over the last couple of years.
The reality is that Allardyce was brought in for one job and one job only – keep the Hammers in the Premier League. This has been done with genuine aplomb, and if it wasn’t for a tail off towards the end of this season, the Hammers would have finished far higher on the table than 12th.
The facts speak plainly – Allardyce has done exactly what was required of him, and more, and yet the club’s board and fans have consistently acted as if he has failed to deliver. The speculation surrounding his job at the beginning of the season was strange enough, but the absolute refusal to enter into contract negotiations with him at any time during the year has been even more bizarre.
West Ham are of course moving into the Olympic Stadium this summer, and will be looking to attract crowds of around 50,000. Understandably, they feel that it is important that they put on a product worth paying for in this new home. And yet, they seem to have written Allardyce off as a man capable of delivering a product worth paying for, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.
Perhaps even more interesting is the question of who the Hammers will get into replace Allardyce. The fact of the matter is that despite their new stadium, they are not immune from relegation, and whoever they bring in will need to be savvy enough to play a style of football that gets results in addition to pleasing crowds.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that whilst Allardyce isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, the facts are that he has done an extremely good job at Upton Park. There are absolutely no guarantees that the Hammers will be able to bring in a man capable of doing even a similar job – if they can, then good luck to them, but right now this decision looks, at best, naïve. At worst, it looks self-destructive.