Belfast Telegraph

Martinez a Sam fan

Everton manager Roberto Martinez admits West Ham counterpart Sam Allardyce may sometimes be criticised for his methods but fans have to accept he "guarantees" results.

This season Allardyce has added a more attacking element to his style to capitalise on the summer signings of Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho and that has taken the Hammers into the top four.

The former Bolton, Newcastle and Blackburn boss has long been associated with a more direct brand of football which brought criticism from his own fans last season, when they finished 14th.

However, that appears to have been forgotten as wins against defending champions Manchester City and runners-up Liverpool have helped the side into the Champions League places.

"Sam is a very experienced manager who has been in this league for a long time," said Martinez ahead of their meeting at Goodison Park on Saturday.

"He has been building clubs, coping with big expectations, but he always guarantees results.

"What he has done with West Ham this season is find a good balance of a side who can be difficult to play against but still really threaten in dead-ball situations but now they have brought in flair and players who can score goals out of nothing from open play and that is a really strong combination.

"In football you make your own choices and decisions and there are many styles you can play and it is up to fans to like or dislike that.

"Winning is important; for certain people in the game the only thing that matters is the result, for others who are a bit more romantic they appreciate more the way you win or the way you want to play than just the short-term result.

"I think it can be a really successful year for West Ham."

Martinez's concern as his side return from the international break looking to build on seven points from their last three matches is a growing injury list.

He has 10 players undergoing treatment at the moment, among them left-back Leighton Baines and midfielders James McCarthy, Gareth Barry and Steven Pienaar.

With Baines rated "touch and go" and John Stones, Antolin Alcaraz and Bryan Oviedo all out, it is likely Martinez will have to tinker with his defence with Luke Garbutt in line for his first Premier League start after a one-minute debut as a substitute in April.

Allardyce has again called for a winter break after Sakho and Stewart Downing both returned from international duty with injuries.

The form of Sakho and Downing has been a key part in the Irons' positive start to the campaign, climbing up to fourth place.

However, both Downing, who came off at half-time of England's friendly against Scotland because of a knee injury, and Sakho - unable to take part in Senegal's African Nations Cup qualifier against Botswana because of a back injury - are major doubts.

Allardyce has long been a fan of recharging everyone's batteries - and sees no reason why a short break after the hectic Christmas schedule cannot be worked into the domestic schedule.

"The demand on the players in the Premier League is so great for so long and so often that eventually they are going to break down at some stage," he said.

"If you look at the load this year on players, it gets greater than ever before. Not only do they travel at international level across the world, but the constant pressure of the Premier League is getting faster and more demanding, both physically and mentally.

"The time they have to rest is fewer and further between and that ultimately ends up with players never really recovering fully enough to go into the next game, hence they go into a game with a knock or a bruise and it ends up resulting in an injury."

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