In our game with QPR we picked up a record for the most yellow cards issued to a Premier League team in one game. Should we be proud of this record and wear it as a badge of courage, a coming of age? Is this a sign of the brand of football we now play under Big Sam?
We all know Mark Clattenburg is a flapper and will give a yellow card for next to nothing. In the QPR game I was convinced that he gave six minutes of added time to enable himself to yellow card the three West Ham players that had escaped his notebook during the ninety minute period.
For years now West Ham has been known as the Academy of Football. Is this now changing now that Big Sam has become manager? It is clear we are no longer a soft touch that rolls over when the going gets tough. We now have some tough players with a never say die attitude like Nolan, Diame, Collins, Noble and Carroll. In the past we would have buckled under the pressure QPR put on us after Taarabt scored his stunning 57th minute goal. But, last night we held firm, dug deep and rode the storm. Yes, this was at the expense of eight yellow cards but it was well worth it in order to gain all three points.
Last season I for one was bemoaning Big Sam’s style of football, his long-ball game. On occasions I even suggested that Big Sam should go and we bring in a manager who would get us playing the West Ham way once again. In truth, the West Ham way has rarely worked in the past and we have probably fought more relegation battles than I care to remember.
So far under Big Sam we have won promotion, albeit through the play-offs and sit 7th in the Premier League, level on points with Spurs and West Brom, after just six games in our first season back in the big time. Our next opponents, Arsenal, are two points below us and if we beat them Saturday and other results go our way, we could finish the day in the top four. What a contrast to the Curbishley, Zola and Grant eras.
Is Big Sam’s brand of football any more boring than that of Curbishley and Grant. At times Zola’s tactical formations were beyond the comprehension of some of the players and resulted in some very poor games.
At times this season we have seen a mixture of styles. We have seen some slick passing and some direct passages of play, Sam’s trade mark. What we have also seen is some toughness instilled in the team, a fighting spirit, something lacking in previous years.
If Big Sam’s style of football brings results and we survive in the Premier League this season, which I think is a certainty, we should congratulate him for the way he has turned our club around. I think its about time that we all acknowledge what Big Sam has done for us in such a short space of time.
Is it time to chant, “Big Sam’s claret and blue army,” or is that a bridge too far?