Belfast Telegraph

Allardyce to work on defence

Sam Allardyce believes West Ham's fans and owners will only be satisfied with a more attacking style of football if it is accompanied by an improvement at the back.

The clash between Allardyce's perceived managerial pragmatism and the desire among Hammers supporters for free-flowing forward play has been a constant feature of his time at the club.

This season has been earmarked as a chance for Allardyce to prove he can meet expectations and his side were a much improved attacking force in Monday's 2-2 draw at Hull.

Enner Valencia conjured a stunning 25-yard strike on his first league start and, at 2-1 down, strike partner Diafra Sakho saw his shot turned over the line by home defender Curtis Davies.

The pair gave a good impression of a deadly partnership in the making, but Allardyce reiterated his longheld belief that the defensive foundations remain just as important as what happens at the other end of the pitch.

"I think the owners here want us to win more than anything, like I want us to win," he said.

"They're happy, we're all happy, with the way the squad is evolving and when you have a more talented squad you play more attractive football.

"Though I say it with caution, attractive football is alright but you've got to start putting defensive units and defensive work together to get the results you need.

"Attractive football with no wins is no good to me and not to the owners and certainly won't be accepted by the supporters.

"We were very good defensively last year as a team. We had lots of clean sheets in last year's campaign, 14 in fact, and we've not had one yet. For me as a manager, that's a disappointment.

"That's something we're going to have to think about."

West Ham twice came from behind to take a point at the KC Stadium, with debutants Abel Hernandez and Mohamed Diame on target for the hosts.

The latter is a familiar face, having only left West Ham on transfer deadline day.

The Senegalese had questioned his use by Allardyce and appeared particularly keen to make an impression, never more so than when scavenging Aaron Cresswell's throw-in in the build-up to his goal.

Yet Allardyce insisted the £3.5million sale was still the right decision.

"We wish Mo all the best, it was a good move for him and good for us," he said.

"Mo was running out of contract and would have been a free agent at end of the season, or may have signed a pre-contract abroad in January.

"We got good money for him and got in a good player, Morgan Amalfitano, with Premier League and Champions League experience."

Hull boss Bruce, meanwhile, is just as happy to have the bustling midfielder on board.

He said: "Diame is a no-brainer. He's played in the Premier League for the last six years and what I saw him do on debut I've seen him do many times for Wigan and West Ham.

"He's big, powerful, handles the ball well with both feet, he's got a little trick and as we saw today he's got a goal in him."

The arrival of Hernandez and Diame, not to mention Hatem Ben Arfa and Gaston Ramirez, who both made their first appearances off the bench, has increased competition in Bruce's squad significantly.

The likes of Sone Aluko, Yannick Sagbo and David Meyler all missed out on the matchday squad and the selection dilemma is unlikely to go away.

"We'd all love to (have) 17 (man squads) because it's easier to manage but we have to carry a 25-man squad because the transfer window doesn't open until January," added Bruce.

"I've had no injuries this week and I've had to leave out six or seven players, which shows the strength in depth we've got now."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph