Pressure turning up on Allardyce

Posted by Vinny Ryan

Clive Brunskill/Getty ImagesKevin Nolan's late red card capped off a frustrating day for West Ham at Anfield.

While there was an air of inevitability that West Ham would lose at Anfield, the manner of the goals conceded will have West Ham manager Sam Allardyce tearing his hair out with two own goals (arguably three) contributing to his sides downfall as Liverpool ran out 4-1 winners.

- Match report: Liverpool 4-1 West Ham

I suspect there were not many West Ham supporters who thought that they would see their side beat Liverpool, especially as West Ham have not won at Anfield since 1963 when Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters were on the score sheet. West Ham have only picked up 11 points at Anfield since that day, and with the form the club is currently in, it always seemed highly unlikely they this would be the year it would change.

Coming into the game off the back of a dreadful result away at Crystal Palace, there was much negativity regarding the form that the team are in and the pressure is beginning to increase on Allardyce who again this week came out with some strange comments in his press conference leading up to this game.

I found his statement that West Ham "outplayed" Crystal Palace on Tuesday night baffling. Having been in attendance, I did not leave Selhurst Park bemoaning how unlucky West Ham had been. I felt no sense of injustice that a great performance had led to nothing because it was not a great performance by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, there was a lot of possession and sideways passing, but if this amounts to "outplaying" the opposition then I have been watching the wrong game all these years.

Liverpool were not as potent as they were midweek against Norwich when Luis Suarez put on a master class, but they always looked threatening especially just after their second goal when they really should have put the game out of sight.

West Ham had been playing well in the first half and were unlucky not to have gone a goal up after Modibo Maiga met a Matt Jarvis cross with an excellent header only to be saved expertly by Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal.

But when you are down at the bottom it is true that luck is usually not on your side and with halftime fast approaching, West Ham surrendered possession on the edge of the area with Kevin Nolan playing his team into trouble and a shot from Suarez was parried by Jaaskelainen only for the ball to bounce off Guy Demel and into the goal.

Any chance West Ham thought they had of getting back into the game during the second half were all but extinguished when defender Mamadou Sakho saw his header make it 2-0, despite James Collins attempts to clear the ball on the line.

Every West Ham fan knew that this was going to be yet another fruitless away day, and since the club returned to the Premiership, the away form has been dismal -- and that is putting it lightly.

While there have been many things that have gone against Allardyce since the season started, the fact is the away form was a major problem last season. To produce another season with the same issue surely has to come under the tag of 'poor management'? If any company has a problem and a year later has the same issue would management not be looked at?

There was a glimmer of hope for the travelling Hammers when Martin Skrtel put through his own net to make it 2-1. And there was a moment when I really thought a comeback was on the cards but a back post cross from Glen Johnson found Suarez whose bullet header gave the keeper no chance.

Suarez would see a shot take a wicked deflection off Joey O'Brien and fly into the goal to make it 4-1 soon after as more misery was piled onto the Hammers.

One of the games main talking points was a quite dreadful tackle from Nolan which saw the West Ham Captain sent off. He will now miss the next three games, but I am unsure if you will find many West Ham fans who would look at this as a bad thing.

Nolan has been terribly out of form for a number of months and the crowd have begun to turn on him slightly. His inclusion in the side every week seems to stifle other players such as Ravel Morrison who will have to play a deeper role when playing with Nolan. Mohamed Diame is another player who has suffered as he has often been put onto the wing with Nolan, Noble and Morrison occupying the centre.

If the team do begin to perform and pick up results over the next three games, I do wonder if Allardyce would bring Nolan straight back into the side. But then if results do not pick up over the next three games, Allardyce may not be the manager.

I believe that since Allardyce became manager of West Ham, the fans have been waiting to turn on him. While many of us will not want to admit that, I believe that has been the case as I cannot recall a West Ham manager who has been under as much scrutiny week in and week out.

In February after a poor defeat away at Aston Villa, I wrote on these pages my thoughts about his management, asking the question: "Where are we going under Allardyce?"

The reason I asked this was because I felt that the expectations from the West Ham fans were never going to be met by Allardyce due to his footballing philosophy and "I know best" mantra.

If Sunderland were to leave Upton Park with three points next weekend, I would think that the owners would be considering a change. Who the club would bring in is anyone's guess. Would they go for safe options with managers who are involved in the merry go round or would they look at Southampton or Swansea and follow their line of appointments with young foreign managers?

While I have never made a secret of my indifference to Allardyce, ultimately I want him to do well because if he does well then West Ham do well. As a supporter of the club what else could I want?

The problem with a lot of football opinions is that people get so caught up in making their point about how they do not like a player or manager that they are almost wanting that person to fail so they can turn around and say "I told you so".

The last time West Ham were in relegation trouble, the owners failed to act in January and Avram Grant was allowed to continue on as manager until the club were ultimately relegated. Both David Gold and David Sullivan have stated that this was the wrong decision, so the question will be: are they willing to risk it all again?

A win against Sunderland will ease the pressure, but with games against Manchester United and Arsenal to follow, the pressure may fluctuate, but it is going to remain for a while yet.

Twitter - @vinnywhufc


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