Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughPrice tags mean nothing to Allardyce the pragmatist - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Price tags mean nothing to Allardyce the pragmatist - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Price tags mean nothing to Allardyce the pragmatist

Such is the interest in the fortunes of Andy Carroll since Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish made the misguided decision to splash £35 million on the striker 20 months ago, Sam Allardyce, now his manager at West Ham, is now tasked with having to field questions on his aversion to scoring which, in comparison to his hefty price-tag, attracted a lot of derision to Merseyside during his spell at Anfield.

It wasn’t quite totally owing to his dismal goal record in the red of Liverpool, 6 goals in 44 appearances, that swayed Brendan Rodgers’s decision to jettison Carroll almost immediately, but his height and physicality which gives him the status of big, target man striker giving teams too much of a temptation to hit the ball long. Rodgers, in his task of inserting his stylish freedom on Liverpool during his debut summer as Dalglish’s successor, saw Carroll as a threat to his philosophy and farmed him out.

That problem is of no concern to Sam Allardyce however, currently reaping the benefits of Carroll’s muscle with his West Ham side lying 6th in the table with 14 points from 8 games. The most recent 3 of those points were won convincingly against Southampton on Saturday in which Carroll won the plaudits despite playing his eighth game of a season in which he has yet to score a goal. “It doesn’t matter he’s not scoring as long as we’re winning” said Allardyce remaining true to his pragmatic style that has repeatedly been effective for him, despite, in all likelihood pushing him further away from his deluded prophecy that he could indeed manage Real Madrid or Barcelona.

It was fitting for Allardyce that a Carroll-inspired 4-1 win occurred against last year’s fellow promotion winners Southampton who have just 4 points to show from showing consummate faith in Nigel Adkins’s desire to play with a free and reckless abandon. The Saints lie in the relegation zone having shipped 24 goals, an unwanted Premier League record after eight games, while West Ham eye down the higher echelons of the division operating in stark contrast to their south coast rivals.

The England striker won the 2 free kicks that led to the two opening goals from Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan as he thrived on the physical battle with Jos Hoovied and Jose Fonte with Allardyce showing his approval by offering another soundbite that saw the pragmatist side of Big Sam run riot around Upton Park “the team plays well as long as your centre-forward plays well”.

Nolan, the Hammers’ top scorer so far with four goals, is assuming the goal scoring mantle from his ex-Newcastle colleague and close friend as they have appeared to shaken their tandem of mischief that tagged them in Tyneside in a quest to become a rather fearsome double-act in London. Allardyce, having managed Nolan at Bolton, was quick to point out the threat of the midfielder by pointing to his impressive return of goals, consistently tallying around ten a season with his 17 goal showing during a lone season in the Championship with Newcastle, the more remarkable exception.

A Noble penalty and a late Madibo Maiga goal, the £6 million signing’s 2nd in West Ham colours, cancelled out any hope Adam Lallana’s goal gave Southampton at 2-1 down, the latter proving an able, and typical deputy to Carroll’s tour de force in the Hammer frontline. Maiga is a brutish 6ft 2, while Carlton Cole also stands in reserve at a healthy 6ft 3, the West Ham attack stocked big and powerful, the perfect fit to the Allardyce stereotype.

The Claret and Blue remit for this season was to remain in the Premier League as they seek once again to become a regular top-flight commodity in their search to land the money-spinning habitation of the Olympic Stadium. Under Allardyce’s nous and savvy, the first part of that plan seems to be well and truly in progress and it’s the goal-shy Carroll, now under the guise of a manager willing to carve a team in his image, that is so influential to it.

Adam Gray