England EPL

Does Big Sam Have Big Problems?

Big Trouble for Big Sam (Image from Getty)The axe was coming down but it looks like Sam Allardyce edged away from it on the weekend after his side’s 2-0 away win against fellow strugglers Cardiff. West Ham are now sitting in 17th, just leaning over the drop zone thanks to goal difference. According to Match of the Day viewer’s poll, the Hammers will survive and avoid relegation but the team has many problems to face and won’t take be able to sit on their laurels on this one.

West Ham celebrate the win over Cardiff  (Image from Telegraph.co.uk)
West Ham celebrate the win over Cardiff
(Image from Telegraph.co.uk)

What has been one of the root causes for the East London’s side poor performances has been their defence. Going into this match, the team conceded 11 goals in just two games in the process of being knocked out of both English cup competitions (the return leg of the League cup is still to come but facing a 6-0 deficit and a rampant Man City, there is surely little hope of progression). Granted one of these was against high scoring Manchester City but the other was more concerning. A 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup set alarm bells ringing. The Championship side carved open the West Ham defence and could have scored more if it weren’t for some poor finishing. Although they don’t have the worst goal difference in the league (that honour lies with Cardiff), Allardyce has struggled to find a winning consistent formula with his backline. Winston Reid and James Collins are both out injured for the side and James Tomkins was also out for a long period before returning on the weekend, then subsequently was sent off and will now miss the next match. To add more misery for Allardyce, Guy Demel was stretchered off with concussion and although he has been released from hospital, it hasn’t been confirmed whether he will play the next match. Roger Johnson has been recruited in from Wolves as reinforcement and there is speculation that the club are chasing Joleon Lescott but the manager is thin on options and needs to beef up the back.

Roger Johnson has arrived to shore up the defence  (Image from Getty)
Roger Johnson has arrived to shore up the defence
(Image from Getty)

The situation is no better at the other end of the field. The team has struggled for goals without the aerial influence of Andy Carroll. With midfielders Joe Cole and Ravel Morrison leading the goal scoring charts for the Hammers with three goals each, Sam will know that he needs to find a new source of goals up front. Carlton Cole and Modibo Maiga have featured this season but have both struggled for form and goals. The return of Carroll on Saturday was a welcomed sight but questions are being asked whether the club should be resting all their hopes on a player who has yet to show the same form he demonstrated at Newcastle. The side has been reportedly linked to the Ivory Coast striker Lacina Traore who is another aerial player. Traore has just signed for Monaco from Anzhi Makhachkala but is available for loan for the rest of the season as manager Claudio Ranieri looks to give him game time. Whilst an interesting option, his style of play is similar to that of Carroll so has many wondering if he is the right option. Surely the side would have more variance if they went for a player with more ground based traits such as Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long who are both looking for moves.

Man Mountain - is Lacina Traore the solution to Sam's striking problems?  (Image from PA)
Man Mountain – is Lacina Traore the solution to Sam’s striking problems?
(Image from PA)

The win on the weekend was a great boost for the side but the pressure will soon be back on their man in charge. The side have got very tricky fixtures coming up including Newcastle, Manchester City, Chelsea and Swansea. Big Sam was fortunate to avoid the chop this weekend by inspiring his team to a victory over fellow strugglers Cardiff and has been given the dreaded vote of confidence but if West Ham continues to slide, how long will owners Gold and Sullivan wait before wielding the axe? Bookmakers already believe Big Sam has run out of time with few taking bets on how much longer he will last. With two defeats in his next two games and candidates waiting in the wings, we wouldn’t be surprised if West Ham conclude this transfer window with a new manager at the helm.

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