Championship previews: Allardyce tells West Ham fans - boo Warnock, not us!
Published 08:00 17/03/12 By MirrorFootball
Sam Allardyce wants West Ham fans to boo Neil Warnock rather than their own players at Elland Road, writes Neil McLeman.
The Hammers are unbeaten in seven matches, but have slipped out of the top two after four consecutive home draws.
And the Irons manager claims criticism from their own supporters is damaging their promotion hopes.
Warnock faces West Ham today for the first time since he threatened to sue the club over the 2007 Carlos Tevez affair.
Allardyce joked: “It would be better if our fans boo Neil and not our players!
“There is great support all around, but there is a negative element that can be destructive and that the players hear and remember.
“This is only a small pocket but with a small pocket they are the ones who are always heard.
“As frustrating as it is, just bite your lip, give the lads that little extra to will them over the line and that will be great. We’re supposed to cope with it as professionals. But if you criticise your own, you get a negative response.
“We are not playing bad. What we are doing is not winning.
"You criticise your own child constantly, you get a severely depressed child.”
Allardyce, whose side would go joint-top with Southampton by winning their game in hand, added: “We want to play sparkling football, but nobody is playing sparkling football at the moment.
“It’s too near the end of a very hard season and there is so much at stake that you have to grind it out.
“Manchester United are not playing brilliantly, Manchester City are not playing brilliantly.
“Other players without the pressure on them are coming strong like Arsenal and others in the Championship might come from the pack, like Leicester or Leeds.”
Big Sam’s Blackpool lost 4-1 to Warnock’s Huddersfield in 1994 in his first game as a manager in English football.
“They smashed us,” he recalled. “And he’s sorted out the problem Leeds had – conceding silly goals. That makes Leeds more difficult to play.”
Warnock, hired by Leeds last month after being sacked by Queens Park Rangers in January, holds no grudge against the Hammers.
He said: “I love West Ham as a club. They are a great club – fabulous – and I have friends who are season ticket holders there.
“I have been in London for the last few years and nothing has changed my mind that they are a fantastic club.
“I am looking forward to pitting my wits against a team of their stature.
“With their fantastic away record, it’s going to be a massive test. But it’s one that whets the appetite.”
Rickie Lambert aims to follow pal Grant Holt from lower-league obscurity to the Premier League despite fearing he would never play at the top, writes James Nursey .
Former tyre fitter Holt, 30, is enjoying the season of his life in the Premier League with promoted Norwich.
And now Southampton hitman Lambert, 30, wants to join his old Rochdale strike partner in the big-time.
Saints top the Championship with 10 games remaining, ahead of today’s trip to Millwall.
“It is nice to see him doing well," said Lambert. "Grant is my friend and to see him scoring week in, week out in the Premier League is great.”
Lambert is full of confidence after bagging 25 goals this term as a massive hit since a £1million move from Bristol Rovers in 2009.
And he is determined to seize his opportunity to finally reach the top-flight with Southampton.
But the Scouser admits his career nearly went off the rails when he was living in his home town of Liverpool and playing for Stockport from 2002-2005.
He added: “Because it has taken so long and I have played lower down the leagues, I now appreciate playing in the Championship and maybe getting to the Premier League.
“I think I work a lot harder than I would if I was a bit younger and got this chance. I think I am in the right mental stage of my life to hopefully make that step.
“But there was a time when I wasn’t really focused on my career. I had a bad year at Stockport and it knocked my confidence.
“I didn’t think I was going to make it as a decent footballer. I thought I was going to be around League Two or the Conference.
“I was just trying to enjoy my football and wasn’t concentrating on getting up the leagues, if I am being honest.
“That’s when I lived in Liverpool and I was going out a little bit too much. It wasn’t until I moved away from Liverpool and my friends and the lifestyle they had, that I got more professional and my career started picking up.
“They went out at the weekend, and as a footballer you can’t do that. I didn’t want to miss anything and wanted to be a part of what my friends were doing.”
Lambert has 82 goals in 149 games for Saints since his move to the south coast turned him into a goal machine.
He said: “We just missed out on promotion the first season, got it the second season and we have gone up a level again this season.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed the last two and half years.
“We are in a good position but there’s a group of other clubs trying to fight for the position we are in.”
PAUL Jewell today hopes to wipe away the memory of an “all-time low”.
It came in August when his Ipswich side lost 7-1 at Peterborough on TV.
Jewell said: “I’ve had difficult times in the game, but that was as low as it gets. Our humiliation hurt everyone badly, but hopefully we’ve learned from that.”
The Tractor Boys are out of the drop zone after just one defeat in eight games and now believe the play-offs are possible as they prepare to face Posh in the reverse fixture.
Jewell said: “The confidence is back – confidence, as opposed to cockiness. We have 11 games left and we’re determined that the season doesn’t drift. We’ve shown resilience and we have to show it again.”
But Jewell warned Peterborough are a real danger after last week’s 3-1 home win over Blackpool.
“They pose a huge threat to us,” he added.