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.

8 thoughts on “Was Sam Allardyce’s FA Cup Team Selection Career Suicide Or Pragmatism?”

  1. Its one thing to play the kids, its another to play them in a 3-6-1 formation, something they probably have not been trained in, and not give any instruction from the sidelines.

    Sam OUT!

  2. Pragmatism. Look people can point to what Wigan accomplished last year as an example to follow or and an example to avoid. If he is able to make the moves to get out of the relegation zone and avoid the drop, you know what gets reported; ‘Sam Allardyce the savior’ at the end of the year. The FA Cup nets no points and although you may be able to get glory by winning it you can also easily get fired when it is said an done more readily than surviving the league battle at 17th. And judging by the stands at some of these match broadcast MUFC v. Swansea, some fans seemed to have moved on from the FA Cup as important.

  3. I read your other long winded posts on this subject and you obviously are not a fan,you might like a team more than others but you are not a fan otherwise it would not be nessacary to explain that on this day the thousands of West Ham fans who made the trip north in full support of their team couldn’t care less about their current league postion but went there with dreams of wembley in their minds and will deal with the situation in the league next week,for alladyce to take the competition so lightly is a insult and betrayal to the hammers fans and to all football fans and the empty seats at the cesspit had nothing to do with the FA CUP.

    1. I don’t disagree…as a supporter to me the FA Cup is more important than the league in many ways. I made that clear in my previous posts. I just realize now that football has moved on and with all these foreign owners who are only interested in money (West Ham of course has English owners but the pressures are the same) and have been through relegations at Brum and West Ham previously that this isn’t the priority. It’s a shame but understandable considering the foreign influence (people not realizing the FA Cup is MUCH more important historically than other domestic cup competitions in other nations) and other corroding of the game thanks to the amount of money involved in the league versus the cup. Sadly the FA Cup isn’t as important thanks to these factors.

      Supporters see it one way but management sees it another.

      1. The world of football is moving on with or without the FA Cup. If there were league points on the line, we would not be having this conversation because it would acknowledge that the Cup runs do affect a teams season. Until that gets realized, the die-hard FA Cup supporters are going to suffer because the Cup lacks beneficial importance to most top clubs so using your best line up is not feasible and may be detrimental to a club as a whole. The FA Cup is not the only thing a club fights for and it takes a backseat to everything else.

  4. “prior to this season been one of England’s top managers”

    What have you been smoking?

    Fat Sam has never been seen as a top English manager. He has done well at certain clubs but never to the point where any top club wanted him.

    1. Notice how many top half finishes he’s had at unfancied clubs…he’s a top manager. He’s been a top a manager. The record speaks for itself. People don’t like his style of play but that is really a personal preference and should not cloud the analysis of his achievements.

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