Despite Sunderland’s managerial woes, West Ham boss Sam Allardyce is still expecting a tough match on Saturday.
The Black Cats dismissed Gus Poyet after 18 months in the Stadium of Light hotseat, replacing the Uruguayan with former Rangers, PSV Eindhoven and Zenit St Petersburg chief Dick Advocaat until the end of the season.
Big Sam said there would be twin pressures on Sunderland – the players will be keep to impress their new boss with a good display at Upton Park and the visiting fans will want to see a strong response following last week’s 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Aston Villa.
Speaking at a pre-match press conference, Allardyce said: “They’ve moved very swiftly to find a replacement which has given them the best possible chance of improving their results, and they’ll be hoping the experience of Dick Advocaat is something they can draw on and get something more out of the players than Gus did.
“For us, it will make the game more difficult. The players of Sunderland will be very hurt by the fact that they let the fans down. They’ll also be feeling like they let Gus down as well and they’ll want to do something about it.”
But Sunderland’s woes aren’t the only ones that will be on view.
“We need to resolve our own problems winning a football match despite good performances,” said the manager. “The aim is to win matches, not play well and not win and that’s what we’ve doing recently.
“The most important thing for Saturday is to gain a victory and, hopefully, we can do that in style. If we can’t play well, then we need to make sure we just get the three points because it’s something we lack at the moment over the last 12 games.”
Allardyce dismissed worries voiced by pockets of Sunderland fans that Advocaat, above, has insufficient experience of the Premier League pressures.
He said: “I would not think there would be too many surprises for him coming to the Premier League even though in terms of its quality and intensity, it’s quicker and better than anywhere else. It’s more about Advocaat getting used to his players, and how best he can pick a system with the players he has. That’s his main aim, not being worried if he can cope.”
With the former South Korea, Belgium and Serbia boss on a short term deal, the Black cats are still on the hunt for a long term solution - with Allardyce one of those cited as a possible successor following uncertainty about his future in east London. He dismissed the talk as “pure speculation”
He said: “I’m the West Ham manager. I’m contracted to west Ham and I don’t expect anything other than discussing a new contract along the line. If the contract’s right, then I will still hope to be here.”
So far, it’s been a 2015 to forget for the Hammers after a brilliant first four months of the campaign. Losing their last three consecutive games, London derbies against Crystal Palace, Chelsea and Arsenal, West Ham will be given a welcome boost ahead of Saturday’s evening kick off.
Both Adrian and Carlton Cole are expected to be involved in the first team, while Carl Jenkinson returns after his ineligibility to play against his parent club last week. Striker Enner Valencia is still two-to-three weeks away from full match fitness, while centre half Winston Reid is a 50/50 call.