Ahead of the clash against fellow also-rans Stoke City tomorrow, manager Sam Allardyce says plans for next season are slowly coming together, despite uncertainty surrounding his own future.
Allardyce said he had already discussed possible summer additions to the squad as well as routine matters such as pre-season friendlies.
He said: “We sat down yesterday and planned out when we will be coming back from the break, where we’re going to go, who we’re going to play. It hasn’t fully evolved but there’s certainly a plan in place.
“I don’t know whether I’ll be here but I don’t see it any other way other than that when you're contracted to a football club, you do the job that you’re paid to do.”
Accumulating just two wins in 13 games, the east Londoners have slipped to 9th with the chances of playing European football next season fading rapidly. Co-owner David Sullivan recently told a fansite recently he was “exceedingly disappointed” with the team’s form.
Big Sam said: “Is it all about results or is it all about performance? People talk about how you play – but the bottom line is winning games. We haven’t won enough so we’re all disappointed with the last few results – and I keep emphasising results, because performances have been right up there.
“The overall season has been terrific and has excited the players, even though they are just as disappointed as we are we haven’t got more wins under our belt.”
West Ham come up against the Potters with both teams on 42 points. The Irons have only managed nine points out of a possible 36 in their last 12, while Mark Hughes’ men have lost three consecutive matches.
The hosts will be given a much needed boost with the return of Ecuadorian striker Enner Valencia, who has been out for three weeks after a freak foot injury.
Despite their inconsistent form, Allardyce is still wary of Stoke’s threat after a strong performance against table toppers Chelsea.
Allardyce said: “It’s not so much the form, but the formation and how they play. That’s what we concentrated on earlier in the week – how we’re going to break Stoke’s resilience down.
“I watched them throw away what looked like a good result. The individual error was costly for Mark [Hughes] and his team and ended up losing the game that he would think they didn’t deserve to lose.”
Big Sam on handling praise and criticism
“I do this job the best I can. Have I delivered what I’ve been asked? Yes. Would I have done things different? Yes, because we are not the perfect club. Have we built hope and expectation? Yes.
“We’ve got a better team, that’s younger, and creating more enthusiasm. When the results are poor, the criticism comes you’re way, but very quickly that can turn into praise and I think we forget how much praise we get.
“You can say how well you’ve done 10 times and people will accept that, but if you say you've done bad one time, then it tends to stay on everybody’s mind.
“We've had far more praise this year than criticism. Everybody’s disappointed with what we've done in terms of results lately. The performances have been good. When I see the statistics after the game, only the score matters.”
“My main focus is looking after the football at West Ham. The outside area, for me, is something you don’t venture into. If you do, you’re affecting your own mind.
“If you listen to praise too much, you become complacent; if you sit listening to negativity too much you become fearful.”