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2013-10-17T09:32:00 Updated 2015-02-18T23:45:04

Big Sam on: Manchester City

Sam Allardyce has spoken to the media ahead of Manchester City's visit to the Boleyn Ground on Saturday in the Barclays Premier League.

The West Ham United manager was quizzed on England's qualification for the World Cup finals, Ravel Morrison's sparkling form and team news ahead of Saturday's match.

Morning Sam, before we talk about West Ham how proud are you as an Englishman to see your country qualify for the World Cup?

SA: "I was absolutely delighted and I think their performances warranted the wins they got. The Poland game should have been won more easily on the chances they created and of course I'm delighted to see the emergence of Andros Townsend in the two games and just how well he played in both the matches. Going forward hopefully they can keep everyone fit and probably use the next group of friendlies to try out more and more youngsters. We can look forward to the summer now I'm glad to say, we were all very nervous about it but we've delivered and that's what matters."

Will you use the World Cup as a carrot on the end of the stick for some of the English players in your squad to try and motivate them for the rest of the season?

SA: "We have several international players in our squad and I think that the Andy Carrolls of this world will want to get fit and play well for West Ham as soon as he can. It will be at the back of his mind that the World Cup is coming and he wants to be a part of that squad. Whether anybody else shows themselves to be good enough to do that will be up to them and how they perform between now and the end of the season. For us it's about all those players delivering on a regular basis to have a very, very good season and when that happens you're likely to be noticed by Roy Hodgson and his staff so we'll wait and see. We'll continue to grow as a team and hopefully some of our players will continue to catch the eye."

You have players in the squad who've won England caps already but there's also someone who people think might be able to make a late run into World Cup contention in Ravel Morrison. Do you see that as being achievable for him?

SA: "I think it's a little early to tell. If he continues to be a regular player in our first team then I can't see any reason why he wouldn't get noticed and maybe be pushing that way. At the moment he's just started with the Under-21s and of course he's played very well in those games but there was little or no competition there so I'd have expected that. I have to be careful with the amount of publicity that Rav gets to make sure that we just continue his growth slowly and continue him playing to the level that he's playing at and try and make him better.

"We've got to make sure there's no distractions that might put a young man off at this stage of his career which can happen. They can have their ups and downs, they can burst onto the scene, they can get lavished with praise and then lose their focus and when they lose their focus they can dip away again and we don't want that. Like I said he's in our team and he's enjoying his football with the rest of the lads. He's got to concentrate on the next game and whatever happens at the end of the season will happen. From Andy's point of view he forged his way into the England set-up with his performances at the back end of last season after maintaining his fitness. Now he's got this unfortunate injury but hopefully he can be a part of it as well."

What's the team news ahead of the weekend?

SA: "We've got James Collins who's picked up an injury playing with Wales unfortunately which is a blow for us, I think he's pulled a hamstring. Obviously we've still got Andy Carroll out, Alou Diarra out and we're waiting for Winston Reid who's travelling back from the States and he won't be back until later [on Thursday], we believe he's ok but there will obviously be some fatigue. Everybody else seems OK and obviously we're looking forward to Manchester City now."

Are you in agreement with the bookies that Manchester City are title favourites at this stage of the season?

SA: "I wouldn't say they were title favourites but I don't do the stats that the bookies do. They have faltered away from home which hopefully we can capitalise on. As unfortunate as they might have been against Aston Villa and lost we shouldn't have lost against Hull City but we did, so sometimes results go against you. They've had a lot more players on international duty, probably more than we have so we've got to think about that. Title favourites yes, they'll be there or thereabouts but whether they eventually do it is a big ask with a manager in his first season there. He's certainly got the players there but we want to upset those odds on Saturday if we can. We upset the odds two weeks ago so let's hope we can do it again on Saturday."

After the win over Spurs has the international break come at the wrong time?

SA: "No we're all used to international breaks now we're all aware that the international calendar is set out before the start of the season. Last time we had an international break we lost and this time we've won so it just makes everybody's life that little bit easier over the two week period. Some players go away and the rest come in for training in a better frame of mind enjoy it that little bit more, if you've lost it seems a long arduous two weeks to get through until the next game comes round."

What have you made of Manchester City's performances so far this season?

SA: "Like I said I think that in terms of results they've been a bit Jekyll and Hyde, fantastic at home and not won away. From our point of view we've got to look forward and be encouraged by their results. Last year we got a fantastic 0-0 against them at home and we certainly have to hit the form of our top level players to play at their level, anything less than that would make life difficult for us with the quality of their squad."

Will it be one for the purist with Allardici versus Pellegrini?

SA: "I was tongue in cheek when I said that but I think we've got a bit of planning to do in the short period of time we have to point out the obvious strengths and then the weaknesses which Manchester City have got. If the players can exploit them as they did against Tottenham then I don't think I can say were going to go and win 3-0 against Manchester City on Saturday. I hope we do but I don't think we will."

Do you think it's the best time to be facing Manchester City seen as they haven't won away from home yet and you're coming into it with the momentum of having beaten Tottenham Hotspur?

SA: "Well I hope so. The Barclays Premier League is all about surprises so if we can deliver another surprise that would be fantastic but nobody gave us a cat in hells chance of winning at Tottenham and certainly not winning 3-0. That's why the entertainment value worldwide of the Barclays Premier League is so good because you never know what's going to happen every weekend.

"Everybody doing their betting or their gambling as they do today can't really predict anything that's going to happen and that's why it's so exciting. We've just got to play our best and I've always said that if you play your best against Manchester City sometimes it's not enough but as long as we do our best and we catch Manchester City on a relatively off day we can get a result. If we can't we can probably still play our very best and still lose the game."

This season has thrown up so many surprises all ready, is it fair to say it makes the role of the manager even more important this season, the fact that you can take a risk like you did against Tottenham with a false nine and it pays off. Does it feel like you can do a little more?

SA: "Who invented false nine by the way. It's either nine, ten, 11, 22 or 31. I know what you're saying because everybody's using this so called sexy terminology. We didn't play a front man purely and simply because the stats were telling us none of them were putting the ball in the back of the net. We played away from home and we hadn't scored so logically we were saying our best way to get a result was to make sure Tottenham don't score. How do we do that, well we block them off, suck them in and when they start leaving more and more spaces hopefully we can exploit it. In the end for 13 minutes in the second half we were magnificent at doing that.

Having got them to change the way they play at half-time so they exposed themselves by the frustration of not breaking us down. They put one midfield player further forward which gave us more space and we exploited that and won the game. Sometimes it's all about atking advantage of what the opposition might change and give you more chances to score. At the end of the day scoring when you've got a chance is the most important thing and that's what has let us down most away from home otherwise we'd have one of the best away records in the league.

We shouldn't have lost a game away from home and we should have at least been won two, drawn two at this moment in time. Because we couldn't score we suffered the consequences of losing one and drawing two. My concern is that we only lost four home games in the entire season last year, we've already lost two and we've got to put that right on Saturday. I know it's against Manchester City and it may not be possible but we've certainly got to make sure that when we leave the field on Saturday we haven't lost.

James Tomkins has been in sensational form and had a great game against Tottenham. What can you say about him and how good he's been for you so far?

SA: "James Collins has been excellent as well and was very unfortunate that I decided to leave him out. It wasn't that he was playing badly I just thought Tomkins gave a fantastic performance against Cardiff City in the Capital One Cup and that got him in the team. I'm concerned that we only run with three centre-backs so James Collins being out causes a particular problem for me because I only have two central defenders now and that's my biggest concern."

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