Big Sam on: Manchester United

Sam Allardyce spoke to the assembled media at Chadwell Heath on Thursday morning ahead of Saturday's game against Manchester United in the Barclays Premier League.

Big Sam answered questions regarding the latest team news, Manchester United's inconsistent season and Jack Collison's loan move to Wigan Athletic.

Morning Sam, what's your team news ahead of the weekend?

SA: "We're in exactly the same place with the squad as we were last week. There's only Joey O'Brien and Marco Borriello who aren't available for selection so I've got a big strong squad to choose from for Saturday's game. Our efforts at home are what I've been focusing on with the players, the fact that we've won the last three home games on the trot and we have to try and maintain that if we can to overcome this little blip.

"We've had two away games in which we haven't picked anything up in, so the focus is to maintain our home results and try our best to pull off a big result. Try and win, but if we don't then make sure we come away with at least a point. Everybody's talking about Manchester United, but in their last away game they disposed of West Brom, winning 3-0. David Moyes has got so many players to choose from that fatigue won't come into it that much, because he can change the side that played against Olympiacos with top international players if he wants to. I think it's going to be a really tough game and we'll have to be on top of our form to get anything out of it."

What did you make of United's performance against Olympiacos last night? Did they rediscover some spirit?

SA: "I thought that they kept their nerve very, very well. In the end, the opposition coach made a mistake by attacking them. He was 2-0 up and had he sat back with a defensive blanket of two banks of four then I think Manchester United would have found that much more difficult to break down. In the end, opening himself up let Manchester United exploit those spaces and there's nobody better to do that than Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.

"They took full advantage of the fact that Olympiacos thought they could come and attack United, instead of looking to protect their two-goal lead. They didn't have to score a goal to get through to the quarter-finals, all they had to do was not concede one but he never set his tactics out like that. David and his players took full advantage of that fact."

They're coming here 18 points off the top of the table, why do you think they've fallen so far behind this season?

SA: "Transition I would say. I think that transition is a big thing when one of the greatest men ever to manage a football club in the world leaves after 27 years. He has to be given time to establish himself and make the changes that need to be made. It's a massive, massive job for David and this season has been a massive learning curve for him. In the end, they haven't had as good a season as they would have liked. I don't think it surprises many of us that when someone like Sir Alex Ferguson leaves, it becomes a struggle for whoever takes over."

You go into this game 12th in the table with games against four of the top five to come. Does the table give West Ham a false sense of security?

SA: "Not really. I think that table-wise we don't really put any great value in it. Our aim is always to obtain more points than games played, that has been the case since the start of the season. Forget where you are in the league, just make sure you get more points than games played to first secure your position in the Premier League and then see how far you can go. We know full well that we've got a little bit more to do.

"We've exerted a huge effort in the recent results, apart from the last two, to get ahead on points per games. We have to make sure that when we come off the field on Saturday that we've got a point, if not more and try to keep that advantage in terms of how many points we've got and how many games we've played."

How many points do you think will keep you up?

SA: "I think probably about 38. Then again, with nine games to go, some have ten, it's swings and roundabouts more than ever before. Normally at this stage of the season it's usually down to five or six teams rather than ten. There's still ten teams, maybe nine now because I think Stoke will be safe, so it's gone to nine now, any of those nine need to pick up as many points as they can."

Does Jack Collison still have a future at the Club?

SA: "His consistent level hasn't been quite as good as last season. You build a bigger squad, greater demands come on the players that are already here and he needs to play some football. What better place to send him than to Uwe Rosler and on Wigan's crusade to get into the play-offs. Jack isn't cup-tied, he's not played in the FA Cup, and they've got a semi-final he could play in. There's a call back option on him for us if we need him.

"If we have any problems here then we'll get him back. Jack got himself in the side when he came back from being at Bournemouth on loan and stayed in the side for a few games before his form dipped a little bit. It worked well at that specific time and like I said, he hasn't played any games for a while. Games are what he wants to play and he can enjoy his football at Wigan for the time being."

2007 is the last time West Ham beat United in the league, is this the best chance you've had of taken all three points against them recently?

SA: "Well like I said before, you've got to look at the last away game they played which was West Brom and they disposed of them quite comfortably. There's a lot of people saying Manchester United are playing better football away from home than they are at home, because there's not quite so much pressure on them. The last away game they played against a Premier League side they won 3-0 at West Brom so I think it's going to be a difficult game with the talent they've got. They can always come out and deliver at any specific time."

United will be on a bit of a high after last night, do you think that's a good or a bad thing?

SA: "If Manchester United deal with these things year in, year out, and Manchester United players know exactly what's expected of them. They've got their own standards. I think they're always very dangerous when they're not doing as well as they should. This is not the manager that I'm talking about, this is the players saying 'I'm letting myself down, my team down, my manager and the fans down. We're Manchester United let's go and do something about it.'"

How much of a boost has it been to have Andy Carroll back after his suspension?

SA: "He managed to score last week, which was very good, but unfortunately it meant nothing at the end of the game. Scoring early away from home should be a very good thing to do, but unfortunately our defensive qualities let us down badly last week. Andy's goal meant nothing in the end, but it meant a lot to Andy, it got him on the way. He made two goals for Kevin against Swansea before he got sent-off. He managed to get on the scoresheet and may have scored two. We hope he can continue that as well as all the other players on the frontline. Players on the frontline are the key element when we're in possession to try and score goals when they get the chances.

"We do want to rely on somebody that gets past ten every year, but we do also have to rely on other people contributing more and that's been one of the problems in our team that other players haven't contributed what they did last season. That's made life that little bit more difficult for us. Defensively, we've been brilliant, 13 clean sheets in 29 games is fantastic. Our goal rates and conversion rates hasn't been what it should have, and if it had then we would be comfortably in the top-half."