Allardyce eyeing top-half finish
Published 14/08/2014 | 13:31
Sam Allardyce has put the trials and tribulations of last year behind him as he targets a top-10 Barclays Premier League finish this campaign.
The 59-year-old survived calls for his sacking as the Hammers struggled for form during periods of the 2013-14 season, with fans unfurling banners and jeering the players off following an unconvincing home win over Hull.
A chronic injury list, including club-record signing Andy Carroll missing over half of the season, did not help Allardyce's position as he guided West Ham to 13th after flirting with relegation at the turn of the year.
Co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold opted to stick with the former Newcastle, Blackburn and Bolton boss after a number of post-season meetings and now Allardyce is keen to move forward.
"They are all behind me," he said when asked about last season's problems.
"I don't think about it too much. I'm still here and still using the experience and the abilities I have as a manager in all areas of the football club to try and achieve more than last season - I'm hoping the lads will go and do the talking on the field starting on Saturday."
With Allardyce having led the club back into the Premier League at the first time of asking, West Ham finished the 2012-13 campaign in an impressive 10th place.
Although Carroll is once again sidelined for up to four months, Allardyce wants to replicate that achievement this time around.
"I would take 10th or better - I think we have got to aim at least at that position," he said.
"If we score more goals than last season then it is achievable for us. If we can do the same as last season from a defensive point of view, with 14 clean sheets, then 50 goals will be enough for us.
"We scored 40 goals last year, 46 the year before, so if we can hit the 50-goal mark I think that will be enough to take us into the top 10 or better."
Allardyce's belief in a strong showing comes on the back of a busy summer of transfer activity, with the signings of Enner Valencia, Cheikhou Kouyate, Aaron Cresswell, Carl Jenkinson, Mauro Zarate and Diego Poyet pleasing the manager.
He said: "I think overall we have gone out and shopped very wisely - from my point of view it is about the age of the players as well as the talent.
"All our signings, the average age comes out at 23, that is good for now and good for the future. That means they should be here a long time at West Ham and not just a short-term stopover like you have to do in your first season or two in the Premier League just to get you through.
"We have moved on to not only improve the squad for now but also for a number of years to come hopefully and they will only get better when they play with us."
Pre-season could have run more smoothly for the club, with Ravel Morrison charged with assault and the Hammers being accused by French side Metz of altering the conditions on a deal to sign forward Diafra Sakho.
With a bid for Sunderland's Connor Wickham also rejected, Allardyce remains determined to add more fire-power to his squad, even if it comes too late for Saturday's season opener at home to London rivals Tottenham.
"We are still waiting for another front-line player who can score a few goals," he added.
"That has been very difficult to acquire because of the injury to Andy but we are still pursuing that avenue as quickly as we possibly we can.
"We will definitely get something done but it is the quality of the player that is the most important thing, he has to come in and be almost available to be used immediately.
"It may not be the case to be going straight in, there may be a settling in period because it looks more like that player will come from abroad now - we are still searching high and wide."