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2014-01-10T10:17:00 Updated 2015-02-18T23:02:22

Big Sam on: Cardiff City

Sam Allardyce has spoken to the assembled press ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League match against Cardiff City.

The West Ham United manager was in defiant mood as he answered questions surrounding the mood at the Club, Andy Carroll's possible return and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's appointment at the Bluebirds.

Morning Sam, is Andy Carroll in the squad for Saturday?

SA: "Andy's been training okay. We've got to talk to the lads who are looking after him and see if he's ready. Obviously it's a bit of a calculated risk if that is the case. We're going to see how training goes today and then make a decision from there."

Are you tempted to put him in as it would be a boost to the team and to the fans?

SA: "If everything goes okay and according to plan then I have to make a decision based on all the information I get on whether Andy's feeling fine and training well, but he hasn't had a game since last May. There's never going to be a level of match fitness he gets to. Ideally we'd like to progress it a little slower but based on the circumstances, in terms of where we are, then it may be a calculated risk which I'm prepared to take."

So he'll be in the squad but not in the team?

SA: "Not in the team, no, but in the squad."

Can I ask you about Ishak Befodil the Inter Milan striker?

SA: "We're trying, we've been trying for several weeks. Certainly I thought I would be talking about one player today that we would have had in the country and signed or nearly signed but that fell into some paperwork problems yesterday. All the players you're talking about we are interested in but we haven't clinched any significant deals as of this moment in time."

Is the paperwork problem for Lacina Traore?

SA: "That's all about a work permit if that's to progress on the basis of in this country it would have to be a tribunal for that situation, so that's what we'll progress with as quickly as possible."

Can I ask you a little about your difficulties at the moment, has this been one of the worst weeks in your professional life?

SA: "It hasn't been the best, that's for sure. It's a number of weeks to be honest with you. Every time you don't get a result, every time you lose a football match and every time it gets more difficult. You've got to try and work your way out of it, guide the players out of it and most importantly stay strong as a manager. We've got to keep delivering to the players what we know works and continue in our ultimate goal to get results as quick as we possibly can.

"We will have James Tomkins back in the squad which is a big boost for us. James Collins is close, but not quite there and unfortunately on Wednesday night Joey O'Brien got injured so it doesn't clear our problems, it's forever continuing. We get one back and one seems to pick up another injury at the moment. It is good to have James back in the squad because central defence has been the real big issue in terms of how the results have been affected recently."

In your email to the fans you've come out fighting after the defeat to Manchester City but you haven't apologised, do you feel you should apologise?

SA: "I said before the game at Nottingham Forest that due to huge difficulties I had within the squad point of view and I would be playing a number of young players and obviously it was too much for those young players. It was to keep my squad for Manchester City as fit as we possibly could, to play against the best team in the Premier League at home.

"The best team in the Premier League at home beat us 6-0, beat Norwich City 7-0, beat Arsenal 6-3, beat Manchester United 4-1, so in reality it wasn't a shock result. It's not a shock result. It's not a result you want, it's a result that comes on the back of Nottingham Forest so that built up the pressure around you. You have to accept it and move on. We did the best we possibly could and that wasn't good enough on the day because of the size and quality of an outstanding Manchester City team."

We know the injury problems you've had, but how much responsibility do you think the players take for the position the team is in?

SA: "We all have to take responsibility because we all don't want to lose the football matches that we've lost. We've always been focused on improving our goalscoring ability and increasing that in January. Since the loss of our central defensive unit, where we kept eight clean sheets in the first 14 matches, that was the basis of having the ultimate basics to get out of the situation which we are in. Since those central defensive partnerships have been lost that has caused us to lose and concede too many goals. We have to get back to that clean sheet mentality and we can do that we get the central defensive partnership back and hopefully improve on our goal scoring ability."

Are the players showing the commitment and passion that a lot of people are questioning?

SA: "Manchester City spent £200 million or more, I had nine free transfers playing at one stage or another on Wednesday night. That's the gulf. They are committed enough. You can't question their commitment. It's an easy thing to say. The other easy thing to say by people in the outside world is that you've lost the dressing room, that goes hand-in-hand. Then there's another easy thing to say that they're not fit enough and then all that rubbish gets banded about.

"They're in a lack of confidence mode at the moment, I can tell you that. They're obviously very distraught about the way things have gone but we have to lift ourselves up. The past is the past and the most important thing is the Cardiff game tomorrow. It's a massive, massive game for us, much bigger than Manchester City, as much as we'd like to try and get to a Wembley final. Cardiff is now our focus and then after that Newcastle."

Cardiff have a new manager in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, what sort of boost do you think he'll have on the club?

SA: "I'd like to first and foremost reiterate what a lot of managers have said and what a lot of people in football have said about the fantastic job that Malky Mackay did. Malky Mackay, in mine and many others opinion, did not fail at Cardiff. He did a fantastic job and it was other issues which I thought rather than what happened in terms of performance and commitment on the field from him and his players. He's a very unfortunate man to be sat where he is at this moment in time.

"Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is an untried young manager who has got a big opportunity to try and prove and continue success which he had abroad. It'll be very interesting to see how he develops Cardiff and how he handles the situation of managing in the Barclays Premier League, something that he feels he's capable of doing and time will tell whether he's successful or whether he isn't. Good luck to him, it's a very good opportunity for him and obviously he'll want to stamp his own style on the team as quick as he possibly can."

With Cardiff having so many troubles behind the scenes, does it make you thankful that this is a more traditional club?

SA: "When I first came here the stability of David Sullivan and David Gold you can see for yourselves. They don't panic too quickly, they haven't had too many managers over a long period of running football clubs."

With this being Solskjaer's first game in the Premier League, do you think it will give you a slight advantage on Saturday?

SA: "My problem is making sure that my players try to go and believe that they can win this game. We won't have as much information as we would have if Malky had still been in charge. He may change the team that Malky was more inclined to pick, he may decide on a different system. We'll have to adapt to that. They had a very good result against Newcastle which has given them a lot of confidence and has boosted them going into this game.

"They'll know, as we know, what a massive game it is for both of us. It's the ultimate six-pointer. I would like to think we'd get some more success out of this one because in these types of games we have failed too many times. We didn't get anything against Crystal Palace, we didn't get anything against Norwich, we've failed too many times and we need to be successful in this one. We need to beat the teams in and around us and we need to start tomorrow against Cardiff."

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