West Ham chairman David Gold believes Sam Allardyce does not receive the respect his achievements merit and has hit back at critics of the manager's tactics.
Speaking to ESPN, Gold claimed that Allardyce remains a victim of an unfair perception of his football philosophy that developed in the formative stages of his coaching career.
He also revealed that the former Bolton and Newcastle manager has been tasked with securing a series of top-ten finishes before the Hammers leave Upton Park for the Olympic Stadium in 2016.
"Sam could not be described as a pussy cat or a cute panda, someone you might want to pick up and give a big cuddle to and that is why he may be hard to love, but you cannot question the job he has done at West Ham," Gold told ESPN. "He still gets criticism for the style of football he promotes, but I believe that is because he got a reputation for playing long-ball football a long time ago and that has been hard for him to kick.
"Before we appointed him at West Ham, I looked at hour of DVDs from his teams down the years and I honestly did not see the trademarks of a [long] ball manager at work. However, people still say ‘Oh, it’s a Sam Allardyce team, they must hit it long’.
"Does a Sam Allardyce team play a more direct style than Barcelona? Yes they do, but that is true of a majority of teams all over the world.
"You will get the purists like Roberto Martinez and Arsene Wenger, who will go to their grave telling their teams to pass the ball, but they are in the minority.
"The vast majority of teams playing this game belt the ball into the box quickly and if they need a goal in the final five minutes of a game, they will go for the long ball option. This is not to be frowned upon, but unfortunately Sam gets criticised for that more than most.
"All I can say is I have seen a lot of football at Upton Park in my lifetime and some of the best and most exciting football I’ve ever witnessed has been played over the last couple of seasons, from a Sam Allardyce team. I’m sure many West Ham fans will agree with me on that."
Gold and his fellow West Ham chairman David Sullivan are setting their sights high as they prepare to move the club to Stratford in 2016, with Allardyce now very much a part of their long-term plans.
"We gave Sam two tasks when we hired him a couple of years ago and he has succeeded on both of those impressively,” Gold added. "One was to get us back into the Premier League and he did that, even if it was by the skin of our teeth.
"His second task was to keep us in the Premier League and he did that with some comfort last season by securing us a tenth-placed finish, which was a fine achievement for a team that had been promoted the year before.
"Now we want to build on that and become an established Premier League side by the time we get to the iconic Olympic Stadium in three years’ time. That means top half finished in the table for the next two years and then we will look to kick on from there.”