Player contracts are not worth the paper they are written on. One second your star man is signing a bumper five-year contract and professing his love for the club, the next a series of ‘sources’ are linking him with a move and he is seen dining with the manager of a rival club. As meaningless as a playing contract can be, a manager’s contract can mean even less.
Alan Pardew signed an eight-year contract at Newcastle, but if the Geordies were to find themselves in the Championship you can bet that contract would be torn up. Likewise, when the Aston Villa job became available Paul Lambert resigned from his role at Norwich and walked straight in at Villa Park. Both Lambert and Norwich sued each other for breach of contract and, six months after he switched to Villa, a settlement was finally reached.
In Sam Allardyce’s case, it is unlikely a better job than the one in East London will ever become available. Despite their rollercoaster form over the last decade, the future looks bright for West Ham. Being a London team can make them a popular destination for potential signings, the move to the Olympic Stadium looks to be finally reaching a resolution, and despite a poor run of results, the Hammers look to have enough to avoid relegation. West Ham would have plenty of interested parties if the manager’s seat was vacant, while ‘Big Sam’ does not have many alternatives on the table.
So, West Ham hold all the cards. After the disaster that was the Icelandic experiment, personified by the baffling Eggert Magnusson as chairman, much work was needed to stop money leaking out of the club and for West Ham to get back onto a firmer financial footing. David Gold and David Sullivan took over West Ham and continued to invest money into the playing squad even when the side was relegated in 2011. The appointment of Allardyce indicated the owners’ ambitions, and along with the signings of Kevin Nolan, Abdoulaye Faye, Ricadro Vaz Te and others, the Hammers bounced back at the first time of asking.
With the new TV deal kicking in next season, Premier League survival is vital. If West Ham did find themselves relegated again, the purse strings would finally be tightened and the manager, his large backroom staff and a lot of the players he has signed would be moved on. If they stay up, Allardyce would have some funds to improve the team, while some of the new TV money could be used to cut the club’s debts and help secure their long-term future.
Giving Allardyce a contract now might provide stability in the short term, but at what cost should the club go down? Allardyce has few other options, and a lot of the players are Allardyce's men, having played for him at Bolton and/or Newcastle, so they could find their careers on the line if their manager leaves. Everyone should be fighting together to make sure West Ham stay in the Premier League next season, and with that determination and togetherness there is no need for the owners to do anything. The manager and the players have enough to fight for (above professional pride), they should not need the reassurance that the manager will be here next season come what may.
The West Ham owners need to balance short-term aims with long-term stability, especially after the mismanagement of previous regimes. If Allardyce keeps West Ham up then he will be fully entitled to a new contract, but until that day comes, he should not get a new deal.
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