Belfast Telegraph

Allardyce targets FA Cup success

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has vowed to go all out for the FA Cup this season, rather than rest players in pursuit of European qualification from the Barclays Premier League.

A 3-0 victory over Hull on Sunday means West Ham are seventh in the table and have twice as many points as they did this time last year, when the Hammers were languishing in the relegation places.

Allardyce prioritised survival 12 months ago and was widely criticised when a second-string line-up was dumped out of the FA Cup third round after a 5-0 humiliation at the hands of Nottingham Forest.

West Ham visit League One high-fliers Bristol City in the fourth round on Sunday and Allardyce insists he will be fielding his strongest team available.

"The FA Cup is very important to us and given our position in the league is very secure, we don't have to consider resting players for Premier League results," Allardyce said.

"We hadn't had a win in four in the Premier League before Hull and now we've won the game it gives us a great opportunity to focus on Bristol City and make sure we get through to the fifth round.

"We've come through the hardest period of all which is Christmas and new year and we're also steering clear of injuries so we have an opportunity to go forward in both the Premier League and the FA Cup this season."

West Ham's excellent campaign so far owes much to their summer signings, with the likes of Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia and Morgan Amalfitano all contributing to the team's push for the European spots.

Amalfitano came off the bench to score the third goal against Hull and Allardyce admits the summer transfer window was the best he has overseen in his management career.

"There's one thing you realise as a manager - recruitment is everything," Allardyce said.

"It's everything in the world of football for a manager.

"If you recruit well you get better players, those players take things on board quicker, you get better results and you become a better manager.

"Our recruitment has been fantastic.

"To have so many players make such a difference, it's the best I've ever had in my entire career."

West Ham's co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold issued a 10-point plan for the next five years on Monday, including a promise to bring "more world-class players" to the club.

"Our aim is to bring in more world-class players that can play in the 'West Ham Way'," read a statement on the official club website.

"We have broken the club's transfer record twice in the last three years and we will continue to make significant funds available to strengthen the playing squad this summer as we build a team that will befit our new home.

"We will also endeavour to hang onto our best players as, too often in the past, previous Boards have sold our most promising players."

One player who does, however, look set to leave is defender Winston Reid, whose contract expires at the end of the season and is yet to sign a new deal.

Reid was left out of the starting line-up against the Tigers on Sunday but Allardyce insisted the 26-year-old's omission had nothing to do with his future.

Allardyce said: "He's just recovered from injury and James Collins and James Tomkins were magnificent against Everton on Tuesday."

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