Big Sam revels in vital victory

Sam Allardyce will enjoy a nice bottle of wine and watch the X-Factor with wife Lynn following Saturday's vital 3-0 Barclays Premier League win over Fulham.

The West Ham United manager admitted to feeling a mixture of joy and relief after watching his side earn a thoroughly deserved victory over the Cottagers at the Boleyn Ground.

Having seen Mohamed Diame, Carlton Cole and Joe Cole hit the target, Strictly Come Dancing fan Big Sam revealed his celebration plans involve a bit of reality TV.

"It's been three months since we last won a league game at home and, now we've won it, it should have been by so many more goals!" he said with a smile. "We've sent everybody home feeling relieved like ourselves, particularly me. I feel a lot happier and more comfortable, not only because we won and got three points, but because of the very good performance we put in.

"In many ways, we played a lot, lot better against Aston Villa but couldn't find the goal. This time, eventually we found three goals and, with the substitutes scoring two of them, it is always very pleasing when they come on and affect the game.

"At 1-0, you want more. When they tired and our fresh legs came on, the ability that they've got put the game to bed very quickly, which was very important. Everybody knows, when you're looking for a result when you're in this position at this stage of the season, if it had been 1-0 going into the last few minutes Fulham were going to push more players up and take more risks, then it would only have taken one slip and we'd have been gutted.

"We finally and professionally finished the game off. A clean sheet and the quality of the goals were brilliant.

"They now have to get their feet up, recover and rest and get ready for the big Tuesday night game and make sure they are ready for that one. Can they do what we haven't done in the Premier League since we got back there and that is win back to back games?"

While Diame's opener took a vital deflection off Fernando Amorebieta, it was the teamwork shown by the No21 and Mark Noble to win the ball from Steve Sidwell that led to the goal.

"Didn't he make his own luck?" asked the manager. "If you review the goal, you can see how well Mo worked to win the ball back from a Fulham player. So he deserved that little bit of luck via a deflection, because he'd worked so hard to pinch the ball. All that hard work paid off.

"Sometimes those things go for you like deflections, whereas when things haven't gone so well recently, they go away from the goal.

"When Matt Jarvis headed straight at their goalkeeper, James Tomkins' header was cleared off the line and all those were not going in, where is the next goal that we deserve? Then we got two quality goals from Carlton and Joe and they were brilliant for us all."

While the goalscorers will take the headlines, it was a true team effort from the Hammers, with Modibo Maiga leading the line with purpose, the back four protecting Jussi Jaaskelainen perfectly, Mark Noble taking centre-stage and the wide midfielders causing Fulham's full-backs all manner of problems.

"We had to play at our best, as we have to in every game," said the manager. "We're not a team who can look at a game of football and win at 90 or 95 per cent. We always have to be at 100 per cent to win a game, unlike the big boys."

The manager was pleased to see his team send the supporters home happy after a difficult series of home results since the opening-day win over Cardiff City.

"It's obviously not nice to be booed or hear criticism in any area, but we have to be men about it and be brave enough to say 'If you don't want to hear that type of thing, go out and perform'.

"The big ask for the players today amid a tense and nervous energy before the game was to turn in a positive performance and they did. Everybody will wake up tomorrow and enjoy a great weekend. That's what we're here for and are paid to do."

After being paid a visit by comedian Russell Brand in the dressing room following the final whistle, Big Sam revealed his understated plans for Saturday evening.

"It's not like the early days when any win meant a night out at a nice restaurant. Now, it's about a night in with a nice bottle of wine with my wife Lynn and relaxing. She'll be as a relieved as I am that we have won this game.

"As for the TV, Sam Bailey has got to win the X-Factor, certainly with my phone calls supporting her. As for Strictly, it's very close between two or three of the dancers who have really improved.

"I'll then enjoy a nice sleep and on Sunday we can start preparing for Crystal Palace."