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2013-05-18T09:32:00 Updated 2015-02-19T00:40:33

Big Sam on Reading

West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce is planning to finish a productive 2012/13 Barclays Premier League season on a high on Sunday.

Big Sam spoke to the media ahead of the final-day visit of Reading, for which a very limited number of tickets will be available on the day following returns from the visitors' allocation, telling them the players would meet their maximum target if they can secure the victory which would see the Hammers finish tenth. and West Ham TV were there to hear what the boss had to say.


Sam, if you win your final game of the season you will finish tenth. What does that say about what you and your players have achieved?

SA: "From our point of view, it is well-documented that we will have reached our target. In past years, I wouldn't have talked have talked about the targets we have set. I have normally kept it pretty confidential but as everybody knows as the season has gone on, we split the season up into phases and we thought that our maximum ask this year ,everything went according to plan, would be tenth in the Barclays Premier League.

"We have tried everything to reach it and aimed for that. If you say anything to a player in terms of it being achieveable then he has got that in his mind to go for it. If you say 'Come on, we can finish sixth', they just know that's going to be a tall order.

"Tenth was our maximum which means I think we've over-achieved this year. When you hit your maximum you probably expected two or three places below that and, as long as we weren't fighting against relegation, then whatever happened this season is fine.

"As it happens, from the good start we had of 14 points from the first eight games, we have never been threatened at any stage with the relegation side of it. We've had our bad spell but that was only once when we picked up five points from one of our eight-game phases. The rest of them have always been positive.

"If we win on Sunday, we'll have had eight points out of the last six games which is why we would finish tenth, which is what we want to do."

Why have you thrived while Reading have struggled following their own promotion from the Championship last season?

SA: "I think that, with no disrespect to [now Reading and former Southampton manager] Nigel Adkins because he came through a very difficult spell and got Southampton up and out of the relegation zone, you draw on experience.

"Having been in the Premier League for as long as I have with three clubs then you know what to expect. You know when the pitfalls are going to appear and how to overcome those pitfalls and you strive to make sure that the players stay in a very good, positive frame of mind. That's when you do well.

"Then you have the other challenge when things go well of avoiding complacency. You've got to find that middle balance to keep them determined and a little bit anxious but confident in their own ability.

"Calling on all that experience has, I hope, helped them this season and of course the response I've had from all the players, staff and fans has been very, very good. We've had a consistent, well-constructed season apart from our away results where we've not scored enough goals or got enough results. That's the only one disappointing thing."

Where do you go from here after promotion and consolidation?

SA: "It's more consolidation. For me, in our first season, this is like finishing in the Champions League places. To finish tenth in your first year, it's like Everton getting in the Champions League. I think that's the size of it. It's not an easy task to do.

"Look at what has happened to Newcastle this year and the struggles they have had, and Aston Villa. We've never been in that struggle and that shows a consistent level of performance by the players and that's something to build on.

"Next year becomes difficult because the West Ham fans and everyone at the football club will expect us to get better than tenth and I am saying that's going to be a difficult challenge.

"I am saying now that tenth is the target again, before we get into a new season thinking we should be finishing closer to Europe. If we do, it depends on how big the buys are this summer.

"I think the financial restrictions and the new restrictions on the finances will make it difficult to do that, so to finish in that particular area would be fantastic for us and it brings stability to the Club. That's what this Club needs - it needs a long spell in the Premier League to bring stability and then look to go on from there in years three, four or five.

"Then we can look for cup finals and for a European place. Year one and two last time they had a fantastic season and got to an FA Cup final [in 2006] and then they got relegated, so you've got to be careful about how you build a football club. You can build it too quick or too slow, so just building it right in the middle is what you want.

"As frustrated as fans might get, that's what you've got to do as a manager because it's then sustainable and sustainable success is what we're all about."

How important is this time of year for identifying targets? And do you like to get your business done early?

SA: "You can never get your business done early because only the wealthiest clubs in this division can do their business early. If you look at Sir Alex Ferguson over the years, even before he's gone on his holidays he has sold off a few fringe players and gone out and bought his players. Then he'll go on his holidays because that's Manchester United and they can afford to do that.

"We have to wait and be patient about ticking a lot of boxes to get everything in place and the biggest one is finances. Can we finance it? We talk to the players, agents and football clubs and we strike deals all the time and somewhere along the line some of them fail.

"The most disappointing thing is if they fail a medical because we'll have got through the hard bit of the finances, the club, the transfer fee and how it's spread, the player's contract and the agents' fee. We'll go through all that and then you keep your fingers crossed that there is nothing medically wrong. Getting to that last stage is very, very difficult."

Presumably deciding what to do about Carlton Cole and Andy Carroll are the biggest decisions you'll have to make?

SA: "I'll sit down and decide what to do after the game on Sunday, as I will about others like Gary O'Neil and our other loan players.

"We've already said to Emanuel Pogatetz 'Thanks very much'. He's been a fantastic lad and a great professional but we're not going to make it permanent for next season.

"We'll deal with the other players after Sunday and first just concentrate on sending the supporters home happy after another home performance that brings the right result. If you look at our record against Reading, people should not just come to the game and expect us to win because our record is dreadful against them.

"My personal record is 'Played three, lost three' so I want to put that right and so do the players. Overall, they are tagged here as our bogey team because we've only won one of our last seven or eight matches against them."

How do you reflect on Andy Carroll's season and his England recall?

SA: "I think that my reflection of Andy is exactly what I said from the start - as soon as we get him match-fit, the sooner you will see the goals. That match-fitness never came until his run after his second injury and I'm still wondering what he might have done this year had we got him off that one minute before he did his hamstring in his first game [against Fulham]. We had Carlton Cole standing there and Andy went up for a header and if it had gone out of player Carlton would have come on for Andy and he would have got a round of applause for beating Fulham 3-0 comfortably.

"Andy fell on the floor and he had done his hamstring, but that sort of thing happens regularly in football. He has shown everybody what he can do and he has massive potential to grow into a very good player if he ends up back here with us. He's so willing to learn and become better that I think we could do well for each other, but there is a way to go before that might get sorted.

"It's about negotiation and both parties have to be happy that the negotiation cannot go any farther and it's a 'Yes' or 'No'. We hope it's a 'Yes' and we hope it is as quickly as possible."


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