Belfast Telegraph

Allardyce not getting carried away

Sam Allardyce will wait until the end of January to assess whether his pre-season targets need to be changed following West Ham's impressive start to the campaign.

The Hammers sit fourth in the Barclays Premier League having won eight of their opening 15 fixtures and Allardyce, whose position at Upton Park was uncertain at the end of last season, has been drawing the plaudits for installing a more attacking approach.

Eye-catching victories over Manchester City and Liverpool have been the stand-out performances but, with a gruelling festive schedule, the January transfer window and the African Cup of Nations, Allardyce knows his side are entering a critical period of the season.

Top goalscorer Diafra Sakho, as well as midfielders Alex Song and Cheikhou Kouyate, have all hit the ground running since joining in the summer but the trio could all be missing once the African Cup of Nations begins.

Allardyce, who takes West Ham to Sunderland on Saturday looking to build on last weekend's 3-1 win over Swansea, spoke of aiming for a top-half finish before a ball had been kicked and is eager to get into February before potentially readdressing his goals.

"If we're still here towards the end of January then we'll reassess our aims," he said.

"By that point we'll have played 20 games, we'll have played everybody once so we should have a good indicator of where we are. So we'll see what everybody has got in their locker, everybody would've seen what we have in ours so it'll be a question of whether we can carry it on.

"We might have a little worrying spell during the Africa Cup of Nations in January, that's why I'm not prepared to do any more predictions until they come back.

"We don't want to get carried away. We just want to keep on playing the football we're playing at the moment. Everyone is enjoying themselves, there's a good buzz around the training ground which is always a good sign.

"I think competition for places keeps everyone hungry, there's quite a few disappointed players because they haven't played as much as they wanted and that is very healthy from my point of view. It keeps them on their toes and gets the best performances out of them."

The 60-year-old also admitted the start to the season had caught him by surprise, given the fact he brought in a host of new faces during the summer.

"I wouldn't have thought it was achievable before we started playing because we had so many new players," he added.

"But like I've said many times the new players have done a particularly fantastic job. The other players have done a job to welcome them in and make them feel comfortable. Our team spirit and family feel has played a part and everyone is on top of their game.

"I think the Swansea performance typified that, we're a very good team character wise as we came back from a goal down again. Our determination shone through as did our ability and quality. We don't just play one way, we're flexible and can adapt to the style we need to at that particular time.

"I think the lads have picked up on that really well and opposition defences don't know what's coming next. That causes unrest and I think our performance on Sunday was the best of the season."


From Belfast Telegraph