Big Sam has already transformed the vibe at West Ham, now for the results

What a difference a year makes.

Twelve months ago, West Ham were a club in the grip of uncertainty.

They had a manager who is one of the most likeable in football in Avram Grant.

The problem was that he brought with him to Upton Park a record of abject failure. And that was reflected throughout the season. The bottom three was all too familiar territory.

Contrast that to the atmosphere that currently surrounds the club.

If the appointment of Grant was ill-advised then the arrival of Sam Allardyce was truly inspired.

There is a totally different vibe around the club.

Instead of complaints about injuries, lack of finance and uncertainty there is evidence of the three qualities so lacking in the last 12 months - discipline, organisation and fitness.

Of course, Allardyce came with the tag of a long-ball merchant. Easy to gain reputations in football - hard to lose them.

Big Sam came as a man who plays the percentages but he also had teams that featured the likes of Nicolas Anelka, Youri Djorkaeff and Ivan Campo.

Ask those three to play the long ball and you might as well make them redundant.

"The West Ham Way" has for too long been a burden and even an excuse rather than a source of inspiration.

Neat, passing football was evident under the likes of Ron Greenwood and John Lyall but it was also effective. Look at the trophies.

Allardyce has made a great start.

He has made the best signing in the Championship so far in Kevin Nolan.

Nolan can have the same impact as Billy Bonds with his drive and enthusiasm and it says much for Allardyce's powers of persuasion that a player of his proven Premier League class was willing to drop down a division.

Matt Taylor - another asset.

Of course, the proof of Allardyce's efforts will come on Sunday when West Ham play Cardiff at Upton Park.

But the signs are positive and you can be sure that if it is going a bit wrong on the field, Allardyce will not patrol the technical area with all the menace of a benign Great Uncle.

That can be taken for granted.

***

Fair play to David Gold.

Dagenham FC on a Tuesday night for a pre-season game was not the most alluring of prospects for the co-owner of West Ham.

But Gold was there - and it was hard to miss him as his flamboyant Rolls Royce stood out, beacon-like, in the club car park.

And Gold was happy to talk with West Ham fans long after the game about the season ahead.

It was a game that would have been easy to swerve, but Gold was there.

And fair play to him for that.

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williamhill.com

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