Former West Ham striker Tony Cottee feels the club’s co-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold have done the right thing in publicly backing manager Sam Allardyce – but believes the London outfit are not far from being in a state of “full-blown crisis”.
The Hammers are currently second-bottom of the Barclays Premier League, have won only one of their last 13 top-flight fixtures and, on Sunday, suffered a humiliating 5-0 defeat to Sky Bet Championship outfit Nottingham Forest in the third round of the FA Cup.
In an open letter published on West Ham’s official website yesterday, Sullivan and Gold signalled their support for Allardyce and confidence that the club’s fortunes will turn around.
And Cottee said: “They have done the right thing in backing him, because if you are not going to do that, you might as well get rid of the manager. With any manager you have to support them. But Sam doesn’t need me to tell him that he needs results and needs them very quickly.”
He added: “There is no doubt the club is in trouble. I don’t think it’s a full-blown crisis yet, but I think we’re not far off it. The bottom line is that you need to get results in football, and results in the Premier League have not been good recently, plus they have just got knocked out of the FA Cup.
“The rest of January – the next four or five games – are vital for the club, and if they don’t get the results, it is going to be a full-blown crisis.”
West Ham have a host of players unavailable for selection at the moment, including the suspended Kevin Nolan, injured Winston Reid and Andy Carroll, their most notable signing of the summer, who has spent the entire campaign so far sidelined due to foot problems.
The Hammers are at Manchester City tomorrow night in the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final, and with a view to that match and forthcoming fixtures in the Premier League, Allardyce opted to field a vastly inexperienced team at Forest. He suggested afterwards that he had had little choice and the co-chairmen’s statement has indicated their understanding of the decision.
Cottee can see why Allardyce made the selection he did, but regards the manner of the Forest defeat – in which some West Ham regular first-team players did feature – as “unacceptable”, and thinks Hammers fans are owed a decent performance from the side in the City game.
“I understand what Sam is saying and the reasons for bringing in so many kids,” said Cottee, who had two separate spells playing for the club, one in the 1980s and the other in the 1990s. “But I think the manner of the defeat was unacceptable – almost like a passionless performance. I felt for the fans. I think they were just shell-shocked. I was, watching on the television. I don’t think anyone could believe it.
“I know not everyone who was playing yesterday will be playing on Wednesday, but there will be some, and they need to put things right with the fans.”