“Which team will survive the weekend in the Premier League?” might be the biggest question at St James Park on Sunday. The second biggest may be “which manager will do likewise?”
With the West Ham board contemplating Sam Allardyce’s position at the club, they may be reminded of the advice “be careful what you wish for”.
Every team that Allardyce has left has been relegated at least five years after his departure. First it was with Bolton Wanderers, then Newcastle United and finally Blackburn Rovers.
Former Croatia national team coach and Hammers player Slaven Bilic is the bookies’ favourite to take the Upton park hot seat with the likes of Napoli manager Rafael Benitez, Derby County boss Steve McClaren and Real Sociedad chief David Moyes also in the frame.
After taking over from Avram Grant in 2012, Allardyce this weekend reflected on what he said had been a brilliant time at the Boleyn Ground.
“It’s been an outstanding experience for me and we’ll find out next week whether it’ll continue or not,” he said.
“I’ve done what I’ve been asked to do and make sure we have a sustainable football club in the Premier League. The record speaks for itself – but we live in the short term. We all accept the criticism we’ve had this season but it all tells its own story.”
On Sunday, Big Sam will return to the place where his managerial creditability took a huge blow. Allardyce lasted just six months after a fans’ protests forced him out.
Now Allardyce has the chance to act his revenge on his former employers with a win that could relegate the Magpies.
Allardyce insisted that there was no problem with chairman Mike Ashley. He was just “in the right place at the wrong time”.
He said: “Ultimately the change of ownership was a key factor. When you’re a manager and new owners come in you have to respect them if they want a new man. As disappointed as I was I accepted it and I moved on.
“It wasn’t Mike Ashley who sacked me, it was Chris Moet who was a corporate lawyer in London and chairman at the time. It was in the January window and wanted to spend money with a different manager.
“That changed happened and it got sorted very amicably. There were no problems in terms of the settlement. It was a clean break and from then on I haven’t really had any problems with Newcastle or Mike Ashley.”