Big Sam on: Newcastle United

Sam Allardyce faced the press ahead of the Hammers' final game of the season.
Big Sam faced the press ahead of the Hammers' trip to Newcastle United in what is the final round of games this season. 

During the press conference, the Gaffer fielded questions on his future, facing his former employers and reflecting on a positive season at the Boleyn.   

Morning Sam, how have preparations been for this match?

“The lads have had a few days off, but not five. The best way after a long season is to spend some time at home with the families. They can’t get any fitter. They could do with a physical and mental rest. A few days training with a reminder of the basics, which we always do. 

“It’s not about Newcastle for me; some people have suggested I am all up for winning to try to send them down, I want to win it for West Ham because that’s where I work. I want to finish with a win away from home and finish with 50 points. 

“From a player point of view, James Collins is out (calf), having to leave the field after a few minutes. There was another fantastic performance from Reece Burke. James Tomkins is fit to join the squad again. Off we go to Newcastle tomorrow and we will try to get a result and a win.”

But surely it’s only human nature for you to want to win this game more than others?

“It’s too far down the road for any of that stuff. It’s been a long time since we parted company. For me, looking back is not what I am really about. Since Newcastle, I have had a fantastic time at Blackburn Rovers and a fantastic time here since then, which is nearly seven years. Time flies doesn’t it?”

What do you think Hull fans may think when they hear your players have had some time off?

“We are all disappointed, none more so than the players and myself that we have not achieved more than we have. We could have had such a great season. We could have probably matched, with a bit more luck, nearly the best season West Ham have had in the Premier League.

“We had the opportunity just after Christmas. We all know, that a few seconds less we would be at the 58 or 60 points mark. But it’s not to be, which has taught us a lesson, and we have not managed to sustain the results. The factors are that the squad strength-in-depth, though we have still played well, because of a shortage of goals, we have not been able to achieve results that the performances deserve.”

There’s increasing speculation on your future?

“It will all be sorted on Monday, one way or another. I am not personally having a meeting. But my agent will be available to speak to the owners. At this moment in time, because the season has finished so late, I want to take the only opportunity I have, which is half term, to go away with my grandchildren. I will shoot off to Spain. Whatever will be will be.”

There’s been reports that your apartment in Canary Wharf has been sold?

"The apartment was sold. It’s bound to bring up speculation, but the apartment was sold about two months ago. In the contract there was a two-month notice period, which meant that I should have been out on May 15th but they extended it to the end of the season. The apartment has been bought and I had to move out. If you want to ring up the travel agents and ask them if it has been sold, then do so.”

What do you make of Teddy Sheringham leaving for Stevenage, it’s a bit of casualty of all the uncertainly isn’t it?

“It’s not a casualty. It’s a great opportunity for Teddy. Probably getting involved at football at this club has given him that little bit of a spark. He’s been stimulated, he has enjoyed his time with us and we have enjoyed having him. That has created an opportunity for him to test his skills as a manager. All Teddy has to look forward is a lot of hard work and a lot of sleepless nights.”

Do you think the players have been affected by the speculation?

“It’s a possibility, speculation can breed some complacency in the dressing room. It has happened before, perhaps it wasn’t quite as much speculation the first time round after getting promoted. I think I signed my contract on May 11th, which was discussed slightly before the end of the season. 

“This time it's more speculation of all other managers taking my position. Probably tomorrow it will be Carlo Ancelotti, he will be the next in line. I can’t affect that. By Monday the situation will be sorted.”

Could the owners have helped that?

“It’s their decision and you have to abide by that. I’m comfortable with it, I don’t have a problem. Distractions are something you put aside all the time as a manager to make sure you focus on your position, regardless of what the speculation. 

“Doing the job you are paid to do is what you are here for. So there are always many distractions when you are a manager of a club of this size. You have to forget that and deal with the players and get them to play as best as they can.”

Do you hope that this isn’t your final game for West Ham?

“I am hopeful it’s not my final game. But we will wait and see. The full situation will be resolved next week and we will take it from there.”

It's crucial for Hull that you win against Newcastle, isn't it?

“It’s not only Hull fans but it’s also for my big mate Steve Bruce, if he wants anyone to win it’s me but he has to win himself – that’s the most important thing for Steve. 

“I am sure there will be twists and turns throughout the game one way or the other. I have experienced that once in my management career. We had to play Middlesbrough on the last game of the season, at Bolton in year two. We knew if we won that game we would stay up and we managed to do that, 2-1.
“It’s clear in my mind how difficult that week was. It’s a very difficult week for those boys in that position and players. We are not in that position, we have to make sure we get 50 points if we can.”

Are you surprised that Newcastle are in this position?

“I’m not sure they’ve played that poorly. The ultimate situation is, is that you can play as well as you like, but if you don’t wins you get put under severe pressure. Wins can boost confidence but a couple of defeats can destroy it. 

“As a manager, that is the tough side of the game, trying to restore the confidence. That has been a hugely difficult task for John. He’s a great guy, he is Newcastle through-and-through, he loves the club from top to bottom. But the players haven’t done what they should have done for him and themselves. That happens, surprises happen at this level, that's why it's the best league in the world. Apart from the top boys, we can all be vulnerable to relegation at some stage.”