Big Sam proud of 'fantastic performance'

Sam Allardyce was brimming with pride after his West Ham United side held Manchester United to a thrilling 2-2 FA Cup with Budweiser third-round draw with Manchester United.

The Hammers recovered from falling behind to a Tom Cleverley goal to go ahead through two James Collins headers - both assisted by the returning Joe Cole - only for Robin van Persie's added-time finish to deny them a famous victory.

From a tactical point of view, West Ham were magnificent, restricting the Barclays Premier League leaders to a handful of chances. At the other end, Carlton Cole was denied a possibly match-clinching third by David De Gea before Van Persie's dramatic late intervention.

"I thought we grew into the game really well," said Big Sam. "We saw Manchester United moving the ball around in the early stages and were tactically aware of the need not to get frustrated because they are a good passing side and they rotate positions very well. We started to probe and get on the front foot a little bit and started to get into their half and get our wide men and full-back in down the side.

"We started to create chances and certainly our best chance, which was headed off the line [by Paul Scholes and Nemanja Vidic from Alou Diarra's header] and we were unlucky not to go 1-0 up. They then scored a fantastic goal with their movement and one-touch football and a great finish at the end of it.

"Then we came storming back with a really quality ball from Joe Cole and a great header from Ginge. It was unlikely enough that he would score once, but then he scored a second for us and got us in front. We kept United extremely quiet and then Matt Taylor headed back from Mark Noble from a great cross from Matt Jarvis and Coley just couldn't toe-poke it in.

"Ryan Giggs then smashes a half-volley diagonal about 65 yards and Van Persie peels off James Tomkins, his first touch is in front of him and bang, it's in the back of the net. It was a sickener but it was a great performance from the lads and it's a real shame they didn't get us through at the first time of asking.

"We're still in the draw after a fantastic performance on the back of a very good win over Norwich. I hope our bad run is now over and, if we continue to keep performances like this going, we will continue to get results."

Big Sam was rightly delighted with the display of Joe Cole, who created both West Ham goals and produced a performance full of the class and talent Hammers fans came to know and love during his first spell in claret and blue.

"He is a top international player for England and he played for the top team in the country at Chelsea. He had a move that went wrong to Liverpool so you could relate it to Steven Pienaar, who went from Everton to Tottenham and it didn't work, then he has gone back and it's gone well.

"Joe is still in his early thirties and, as long as he stays fit for me - we'll work hard at doing that - then he will be a great asset."

It was not only the No26 who impressed. Every West Ham player was 'outstanding', according to the manager.

"Everybody was outstanding - the only one who wasn't was Jussi because he didn't have anything to do. What does that say about the performance? If he had saved Van Persie's shot he'd have been the hero because I think we'd have won the game.

"How many saves did he have to make? We have limited Manchester United to the fewest chances they've probably created in a game this season. I know people will say they scored two but they did so with probably the only three chances they've had.

"They had a header at the far post [from Giggs] that went over which was a reasonable chance, but at the other end we opened them up and exposed them on several occasions, so it's just a shame we didn't get the win."

A replay means West Ham now have mid-week games in the three final weeks of January - at Manchester United, Arsenal and Fulham. Big Sam said the fixture pile-up will test a squad that has been strengthened by the arrival of Cole and Marouane Chamakh and the return to fitness of a number of important players.

"January is going to be massive in terms of the number of games and that means we have got to get Diame and Carroll fit and Gary O'Neil back. I think we'll strengthen the squad - we have Chamakh who has come in - and that will be massive for us.

"We've seen the effect of Collison and Vaz Te coming back and the competition for places making people produce good performances.

"We've seen Danny Potts come back from Colchester and put in a massive performance here against Manchester United, so I hope he can keep that up. If I can get another player in during the window, so be it, and hopefully that will give us the strength in depth to rotate during that period because that's what I'll have to do to get some results."

Finally, the manager is looking forward to helping Chamakh return to the form that made him a feared striker during a successful, league title-winning spell with French club Bordeaux.

"Modibo Maiga has gone to the Africa Cup of Nations and Yossi Benayoun has gone back to Chelsea, so the two new players have come in and replaced them. If we can add anybody else then that will be fine.

"We've got Andy, Carlton and Chamakh - three good strikers. Hopefully we can give him a lift after the disappointment he had to suffer at Arsenal in the last year or so. What he did at Bordeaux is what I'm going to try to get him to do here. He was an outstanding centre forward with Bordeaux who won the French league there."