That will prompt a mixed reaction among West Ham supporters, some of whom have made no attempt to disguise their unhappiness with the current manager. Yet while it will take a major image makeover for Allardyce to repair a relationship with those dissenters, the manager offered promise of compromise following a third victory of the season over Spurs by declaring his intention to add creativity to the pragmatic style that has secured a third season in the Premier League.
Castigated as a long-ball merchant, Allardyce’s approach has won few friends in a corner of East London that still regards itself as ‘the academy’. History dictates the club remains associated with a considered style of play and the current default approach of directly targeting Andy Carroll has won little favour, particularly when results have dipped.
In fact, sometimes victory has proved inadequate. Not many managers have been forced to endure boos following a home victory, as Allardyce did after March’s workmanlike win over Hull.
On Saturday, however, that was forgotten as Allardyce’s side produced one of their most impressive performances of the season to ensure the lap of appreciation that followed their final game of the season was taken with spirits high all round.
Allardyce was entitled to feel relieved and, having consolidated the club’s status over the last two season, admitted it was now time to move forward.
“There is a bit of negativity, you can’t hide from that,” said the manager. “We can now look forward to a summer where, when we get back, we know we are in the Barclays Premier League. You don’t want to go through next season with some of the phases like this season, and that boils down to making a bigger and better squad.”
There is little doubt that Sherwood is seeing out his time at Spurs and while his commitment has not wavered, the same cannot be said of his players, although Manchester United’s unexpected defeat to Sunderland ensured they are still in with a strong chance of remaining in sixth place and claiming a place in the Europa League.
Younes Kaboul’s foul on Stewart Downing was ill-advised, earning the defender a 24th minute red card and ultimately leading to the opening goal that deflected in off Harry Kane from Andy Carroll’s header. More shocking was the sight of Paulinho and Emmanuel Adebayor turning away from the ball and allowing Downing’s 43rd-minute free kick to sail through the defensive wall to secure the win. The situation surrounding Sherwood — with Frank de Boer heavily linked with the Spurs job — hasn’t helped.
“You have to ask the players whether it has affected them,” said Sherwood. “I don’t think the results have reflected they are not trying because they have been very good, there is only today we have got beaten in the last month. So you can’t use that as an excuse. Maybe today after a defeat but that is just looking for excuses.”
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Adrian 6; Demel 6; Tomkins 7, Reid 7, McCartney 7; Taylor 7, Noble 8; Downing 9, Nolan 8 (Jarvis 88,6), Diame 7; Carroll 8 (C Cole 84, 6).
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Armero, Vaz Te, Collins, Nocerino.
Tottenham (4-4-2): Lloris 8; Naughton 6, Dawson 5, Kaboul 3, Rose 4; Lennon 4, Paulinho 4 (Sandro 65,6), Sigurdssson 5 (Soldado 65,4), Eriksen 7; Kane 6 (Chiriches 25,6), Adebayor 4.
Subs: Friedel, Fryers, Pritchard, Bentaleb.
Referee: Phil Dowd.