Big Sam on Friday

Manager Sam Allardyce sat down in front of the West Ham TV camera to discuss matters ahead of Saturday's npower Championship trip to Reading.

Big Sam was asked about a range of issues, including Tuesday's Supporters' Advisory Board meeting, being prepared for the January transfer window, injuries and the Academy's midweek FA Youth Cup victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Here is what the manager had to say -

Sam, if we could start with the Supporters' Advisory Board meeting you attended on Tuesday. How did you enjoy your evening?

"It is nice to see the club actually allowing a group of people to get their viewpoint across on what they think in all areas. Mostly you would think they'd be asking about what is happening on the pitch, but actually it was about all areas of the club from what happens on the field all the way to the possible move to the Olympic Stadium.

"It was a pleasant evening and informal for me, rather than standing up talking. I wandered around each group and had a chat with them and got some very positive feedback.

"The owners must take a lot of credit because I have not heard of this type of thing before at other clubs I have been at. It was very, very good to attend."


One thing I'm sure you were asked about a lot was possible transfers. The January transfer window is not far away and speculation will start to ramp up over the coming few weeks. What are your thoughts on possible additions to the squad?

"The difficulty is that the madness will be kicking off into next week and it will be heightened as the weeks go on, right the way through until the end of January in the middle of a very important period of games of football that you've got to try to win under difficult circumstances - suspensions come into play, injuries, cold weather and Christmas spirit for everybody else apart from yourself.

"All the speculation around transfers in and out creates a difficult time for managers to cope with.

"We have targets, yes, but whether they are achievable we'll have to wait and see. If we can achieve them, we want to achieve them between 1 January and 7 January rather then 24 January to 31 January because another four or five games will have elapsed within that time.

"If we've got to do it and if we can do it, let's try to do it as early as possible. In saying all that, it's a hugely difficult time to acquire players. Like everything else, we're all in the same position but we'd prefer to have a different system."

So you want to be prepared to make signings as soon as the window opens?

"There is being prepared and then there is the reality of what is achievable. The hard part for me has always been recruitment. I think it's more difficult now than it's ever been in the history of football to find players to bring to your club and make it better.

"There are fewer players of the highest quality that you would like available in the world of football today and that makes them ever more expensive and ever more difficult to get hold of.

"It's almost a case of spending more on scouting to spend less, but when you find that right quality, it can make that much quality to your side that you can be very successul very quickly."

Henri Lansbury

Henri Lansbury returned to action against Brentford on Tuesday

Talking of new faces, you must have been pleased to see Gary O'Neil and Henri Lansbury back in action after injury on Tuesday?

"We knew Henri would be back in about eight weeks from his injury and we had a bit of a lucky break because he was millimetres away from an anterior cruciate ligament injury which would have been the end of the season for Henri.

"We've already suffered one severe blow with David Bentley, which everyone seems to have forgotten about. He was a big loss to our squad. So Henri coming back and having 60 minutes was very important with regards to getting him back really quick.

"Gary is ahead of schedule. It's a number of games and it might be as many as six or eight before he gets the confidence mentally for us to think about him coming back into the squad. Even then, you have to do it tentatively from the bench and look at his mental side as well as the physical side. He's always been a very fit player anyway.

"Of course we also have Matt Taylor and Winston Reid who I am particularly concerned about getting back as quickly as possible. Matt is not as bad as first thought and Winston is progressing and getting closer and closer to being fit again.

"The run we've had with those injuries, even though we were disappointed last weekend, has been an outstanding piece of work over the last ten games - 22 points and everything we have had thrown at us, we have coped with and got more points than we did from the first ten games.

"It shows you we are improving all the time as a unit on and off the field."

FA Youth Cup

The youth team play an important role in the Hammers' preparation

Finally, talking of players who hope they will be good enough for West Ham United in the future, you must have taken heart from the FA Youth Cup victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday evening?

"The Academy boys have played against the first team a lot on Fridays. They actually come and watch a video of the opposition that we're playing and their responsibility is to play like the team we're going to play against.

"That then is a challenge to them because they obviously play a certain way in the youth team. We're challenging them in terms of their mentality and helping them to understand the game of football by asking them to watch a video and putting them out and telling them 'You've got to play like they do'. That's a great challenge to them in the first place.

"They then find out which first-team player they are up against and how difficult that is. They then know what level they have to get to and better to dislodge that first-team player. It gives them a goal to aim for because they've experienced it in a training session - of course, in a training session we're not a full tilt either.

"You get to see the ones who can handle it and the ones who struggle a little bit, so it's a good learning curve and hopefully you get lads who move up - We've had Dan Potts and George Moncur up with the first-team squad and we recalled Rob Hall from his loan at Oxford to be on the bench a couple of times. They are along with Jack Collison and James Tomkins who are massive parts of the team now.

"It would be great if we could bring more through and hopefully we can produce more and more because, at a club like this, if it wants to move forward in today's level of expenditure then you've got to get 30 or 40 per cent of your players through your own system - that saves you millions and millions of pounds at the other end if and when you get into the Premier League.

"That makes life a whole lot better for a club like West Ham."