Big Sam says his goodbyes

Sam Allardyce has said his goodbyes to West Ham United after the Club announced that the manager’s contract will not be renewed this summer
Sam Allardyce has said his goodbyes to West Ham United after the Club announced that the manager’s contract will not be renewed this summer.

Big Sam leaves the Boleyn Ground after four years in charge during which he led the Hammers to promotion and stabilised the Club in the Barclays Premier League.

On Sunday, his final game in charge saw the Hammers slump to a 2-0 defeat at Newcastle United and slip to a finishing position of 12th in the table.

After the final whistle, and following discussions between the two parties on Friday, the Club confirmed that the manager will not return next season and Big Sam said goodbye to his backroom staff and players, shaking each by the hand before leaving St James’ Park.

Before doing so, he spoke to West Ham TV one final time to assess his four seasons in east London.

“I’ve had a wonderful time,” Big Sam began. “I think that when the challenge got laid down I wondered whether coming into a club which had been relegated was the right thing to do.

“I basically saw what a mess it was, but I’d signed a contract and committed to the job. I got on with it and the journey, from after the first six months – which was a real hard slog and graft and wasn’t looking that clever or feeling that comfortable – has only been really that small blip we had last season with all the injuries that put us down in the relegation zone.

“Everything else has been great progress and I’ve enjoyed working at the Club and the owners. I’ve taken great pride in working with a Club of this size and the plan of re-establishing it back in the Premier League is what I’ve done and what the owners asked me to achieve.

“I built a really good squad in the end. Altogether we’ve worked extremely hard to build that squad and I’ve managed that squad to get into the position we’re in now and it’s somebody else’s turn.

“It’s the right time for both of us. I look forward to the break and not having to commit myself like you have to commit in this job. At the end of the day, family is important and you have to sacrifice your family when you’re in this job.

“Time is right for the Club to move on and me to move on and for me to recharge and refocus on whatever might be in a few months’ time.”
Time is right for the Club to move on and me to move on and for me to recharge and refocus on whatever might be in a few months’ time
The manager’s reign has been a rollercoaster, with promotion secured via the Play-Offs, a comfortable tenth-place finish in the first season back in the Premier League, a relegation battle last term followed by a season of two halves in 2014/15.

Big Sam’s tenure has attracted huge debate among West Ham supporters, so what would the outgoing manager’s message to those fans be on his departure from E13?

“I think, like at any football club, there is always somebody who is discontented with what you are doing and I’ve said before that the club in itself, in terms of its support, is exceptionally good,” he said.

“When things are not going well, they like to make themselves heard and you accept that as a manager. I think, if you look back at what we’ve done and how far we’ve come, you can’t be too dissatisfied.

“You’ve got to look at the facts and look at what we’ve built with what we’ve had to spend and how hard we’ve worked – and I’m not just talking about me, my staff and the players, but the relationship with the owners in terms of how to get that money for recruitment comes from them and their support.

“I think we’ve done great. We’ve made mistakes but I don’t think we’ve made too many and, in the end, you’ve got a younger squad for someone else to manage which has learnt an awful lot in the last 12 games, particularly those who were in their first season in the Premier League. Up to Christmas, they might have been thinking it wasn’t as hard as they thought, but they certainly know it’s hard now.

“That experience of the downside will form the basis for the next manager and hopefully make them better and more consistent for whoever is in charge next year.”
Sunday’s game was a microcosm of West Ham’s season, starting promisingly before withering away in disappointing fashion late on.

Goals from Moussa Sissoko and Jonas Gutierrez saw Newcastle stay up and St James’ Park erupt with relief, but for everyone associated with the Hammers, the feeling was one of wondering what might have been.

So, how did Big Sam assess a campaign very much of two halves?

“We can’t finish and we can’t score and that’s become ever more apparent in the last few weeks,” said Big Sam. “Our build-up is fine, but the depth of our quality of finishing is just not there and that’s an area for someone else now.

“Looking at the overall season, to a certain degree we have overcome the defensive problems, but on the front line we have not had Diafra Sakho. Without him, we’ve found goals hard to come by.

“Because Stewart hasn’t kicked on, because Kevin Nolan hasn’t done what he normally does and because Enner Valencia hasn’t scored enough goals, that has been the biggest effect on our results.

“I’ve had no complaints about the way we have played until the second half on Sunday, which I thought was really poor. I thought it was poor the way we went about our task when we had Newcastle very nervous in the first half. We let them off the hook and that was really disappointing.

“It’s for somebody else to take the reins now and take the Club forward.”