Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Allardyce backed by Hurst

Sam Allardyce targets a top-10 Premier League finish this campaign

Sam Allardyce continues to have his future as West Ham manager questioned but he has found an ally in former Hammers and England striker Sir Geoff Hurst.

With fans calling for Allardyce's head towards the end of last season after perceived drab performances and negative tactics, co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold opted against replacing the 59-year-old over the summer.

Since then it has been a challenging pre-season for Allardyce and the club - starting when record signing Andy Carroll returned home from a tour of New Zealand for an operation on an ankle injury which has ruled him out for up to four months.

Loanee Carl Jenkinson also suffered a hamstring injury on his debut, Ravel Morrison has been charged with assault on his ex-girlfriend and her mother and Sullivan has come out with quotes which have undermined Allardyce's position.

French side Metz have now accused West Ham of underhanded transfer tactics in a move for Diafra Sakho, with a threat of further action against the club lingering.

Many fans remain convinced Allardyce is not the man to lead the club forward to their Olympic Stadium move in two years but Hurst believes the Hammers have the perfect manager in place as Allardyce heads into his fourth season in charge at Upton Park.

"I'm very much in the camp of wanting to keep Sam Allardyce," the England World Cup winner told Sky Sports.

"We need to improve the team, there's no doubt about that. He hasn't got a great side but the way I see it if he can keep us mid-table then that's a fantastic job.

"It's crazy that there's pressure on Sam Allardyce before the season has started but that's football.

"They haven't had a particularly good pre-season but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. Down the years at West Ham, we have had good results after not doing well in pre-season and we've had poor years after making a good start so it doesn't mean a lot."

A narrow 3-2 victory over Sampdoria on Saturday was West Ham's only win inside 90 minutes during a pre-season which took in a tour of New Zealand.

All in all it has been a pre-season to forget, with Hurst aware that the loss of Carroll will be a hard obstacle to overcome.

"They've had a bit of a blow with Andy Carroll getting injured," he said.

"They missed him badly last year and I think some of the struggles were down to the fact that the guy didn't play.

"When he got fit towards the end of the season we picked up some good results and got ourselves out of trouble."

Ecuador's World Cup star Enner Valencia and former Birmingham forward Mauro Zarate have been brought in to provide competition in attack, whilst Diego Poyet, Aaron Cresswell and Cheikhou Kouyate have also signed for the Hammers.

Those additions have excited Hurst, who said: "I'm very much for the continuity of keeping him there. It makes sense to me.

"He's made a couple of signings so we need to see how they fit in and they're still in the market for another striker to replace Andy Carroll."

That hunt for a new forward has seen the Hammers linked with the likes of Samuel Eto'o and Peter Crouch - whilst a bid for Sunderland's Connor Wickham was rejected.

Sakho looked destined to move to east London but the 24-year-old who fired the French side to the Ligue 2 title last season will now stay put.

Metz accused West Ham of altering their offer at the last minute having allowed Sakho to undergo a medical with the Barclays Premier League side and will assess their options in response to the breakdown of the deal.

"The English club unilaterally decided to propose a loan deal with an option to purchase instead of a permanent deal, which does not correspond to FC Metz's expectations and contradicts all the terms that had been agreed last week between the two clubs," a statement on their official website read.

"FC Metz regret this clear lack of respect, which is unacceptable, from West Ham towards FC Metz and also the player.

"As a result, FC Metz reserve the right to approach the international sport court and assert their rights and defend their interests. FC Metz had released Diafra Sakho from his professional duties during matchday 1 of the Ligue 1 championship by giving him leave to take a medical in England to complete the last stage of the deal."

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