Was Sam Allardyce’s FA Cup Team Selection Career Suicide Or Pragmatism?
West Ham United crashed out of the FA Cup with a 5-0 loss against Nottingham Forest on Sunday. Manager Sam Allardyce made the controversial decision to play a team made up largely of youth players. While some accomplished veterans like Stewart Downing and Alou Diarra were in the side, the Hammers fielded a team that was designed more to alleviate fixture congestion than anything else.
Sitting in the relegation place and in terrible form, Allardyce’s perhaps wished to be out of the FA Cup in order to focus on saving Premier League status. It makes even more sense when you consider that West Ham has a two-leg League Cup semifinal against Manchester City to navigate beginning this Wednesday.
Allardyce says that he notified West Ham’s owners before the match about his desire to play a largely uncompetitive youth side. While I appreciate in particular that Sebastian Lleget, a once highly touted American youngster who has been at the club for five years, got his full debut in the tie, it seems Big Sam set out to lose this match. Of note for American fans, youngster Danny Potts who has previously played for the USA’s U-20 team before it was discovered by the USSF that he was not eligible for citizenship, also started the match.
In his post-game interview, Allardyce was honest in saying he didn’t know if this would impact his future and if the sack was coming. While he informed the ownership in advance of his decision, I wonder if this could be the last straw for what has prior to this season been one of England’s top managers.
What do World Soccer Talk readers think of Big Sam’s decision to field such a watered down and uncompetitive squad? Was it pragmatism or simply the last gasp from a manager facing certain sacking?
Editor’s note: For more Hammers news, analysis and opinion, visit the West Ham United team page.