Sport Soccer

Monday 26 February 2018

Big Sam right man to drag Hammers out of mire - Gold

Cardiff City 0 West Ham 2

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce (left) and Cardiff City manager Cardiff City manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce (left) and Cardiff City manager Cardiff City manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Matt Law

There was a distinct sense of last-chance saloon about West Ham's trip to Cardiff City.

Owners David Sullivan and David Gold were in the directors' box, suspended captain Kevin Nolan sat with the back-room staff on the bench, the injured James Collins travelled with the team to Wales and Andy Carroll's comeback date was brought forward by a week.

Sam Allardyce was not going to be left to face his date of destiny alone, so no wonder the 59-year-old manager danced on the touchline when Mark Noble put West Ham's first league win since November beyond doubt in injury-time.

Publicly, Sullivan and Gold had supported Allardyce during one of his most difficult weeks of his managerial career, but privately they had been considering their options.

Defeat at Cardiff, following thrashings by Nottingham Forest and Manchester City, may well have prompted the owners to put the call in to Forest manager Billy Davies or ask Malky Mackay whether he was interested in an instant return to management.

UNITED

West Ham's united front in Wales proved to be more than just show, however, as the players ruined Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first league game in charge of Cardiff to climb out of the bottom three.

Gold claimed it was that spirit and not an expensive compensation bill that kept Allardyce in work until Saturday, despite pressure from angry fans.

"There has been a groundswell of anti-Sam feeling, but I think it's 50-50," Gold said. "If it's 50-50, the casting vote is with the board and that's the bottom line.

"He has been around the block many times and he is a skilled and experienced manager. That's what is needed. You are making a decision all the time and we believed that Sam was the man to get us out of the plight that we were in."

It is understood that West Ham would have to pay around £6m in compensation to sack Allardyce and his back-room staff, while it may not cost anything to get rid of him if the club are relegated.

Both sides hit the woodwork before Carlton Cole gave the visitors a 42nd-minute lead from a Matt Jarvis cross.

Carroll was thrown on for his first appearance of the season with 18 minutes remaining as Cardiff pushed for an equaliser and seconds later defender James Tomkins was shown a second yellow card. Carroll set up Noble in the dying seconds to send Allardyce wild and clinch the points. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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