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By Robert Rainsley, London24’s West Ham blogger
Saturday, December 22, 2012
After last season’s promotion and the promising first half of the current campaign, Mr Allardyce is gradually winning over the doubters that have lurked amongst us since his appointment 18 months ago.
Name: Rob Rainsley
Season ticket holder
Favourite Player: Mo Diame
Favourite Game: Play off semi final 2nd leg v Ipswich 2004
Predicted Finish: 13th
Unfortunately, my doubts seem to be dwindling slower than others.
Clearly, there were no complaints when Ricardo Vaz Te sent half of Wembley in to raptures back in May and being perched safely in mid table entering the busy festive period has created an unfamiliar feeling of content.
Our last 2 home games have caused slight concerns, however.
It may sound a little strange to say this as the first of these games was the 3-1 victory against Chelsea but firstly, I can’t imagine I was alone in feeling very underwhelmed by the decision to play James Tomkins in the holding midfield role; it didn’t work last season in the Championship so surely it wouldn’t work against the European Champions.
But selection mistakes do happen; every manager in the world makes them, however, what goes a long way to making a great manager is admitting to these mistakes and admitting quickly.
We all know that the half time substitution of Mo Diame for the aforementioned Tomkins changed the game, but the reality is we were extremely lucky that Chelsea had only taken one of the numerous chances that they created in what was an extremely laboured – almost testimonial pace at times – first half from the hosts.
So, why did he wait until half time?
As recent as just 10 years ago it was unheard of to make tactical substitutions during the first half of games but then a certain ‘special one’ entered our shores and shook the system up by pretty much doing what he wanted, when he wanted.
Obviously, the result couldn’t have been any better but amongst all the post match euphoria was just a slight nagging feeling of apprehension about our manager’s reluctance to be proactive during a half of football that was screaming out for something different.
The second of the home games was Liverpool and this got me thinking about another concern.
Having taken the lead in to the break and an arguably deserved lead at that, it made the manner of the defeat particularly hard to stomach.
Let’s face it, Liverpool at home is no longer a game to fear, particularly so when they are missing their most dangerous and effective player, and there was certainly nothing in the first half to suggest any different.
However, the attitude shown in the second half seemed to suggest that it was a case of protecting the lead rather than extending it, despite the fact that, as mentioned before, there was nothing to fear.
People will blame the downfall on the premature departure of Diame and, admittedly, it did only take Liverpool 3 minutes to restore parity once he was stretchered off, but this is merely a timely excuse because the reality is, the equaliser had been coming for some time due to the increased, invited pressure we had brought on to ourselves.
And we all know what happened next.
Now, I don’t want you thinking that this is a complete Allardyce bashing, because if someone had told me on June 1st 2011 – the day he was appointed – that we would be 11th in the Premier League going in to the Christmas period the following year, I would have been more than pleased and I honestly am.
It is just simply a case of yet to being overly convinced by ‘his way’, but then again, I’m not sure I ever will be.