Sam Allardyce wants repeat of Spurs glory game when West Ham take on Swansea City - not last year's horror show
AMID all the flak aimed at former players and rival managers, Sir Alex Ferguson's book barely mentioned Sam Allardyce.
There is a reference in My Autobiography to Allardyce's time as Newcastle United boss.
But Sir Alex gave himself a slap on the wrist during one of his various interviews this week when it dawned on him that he had not said enough nice things about West Ham United's manager.
The pair get on, thanks in part perhaps to the fact Allardyce has never been in charge of one of the top clubs.
He has given Sir Alex a few bloody noses over the years, but he was never a rival for the big prizes.
If only his surname was Allardycio, he says, he might have got one of the big jobs.
As it is, Allardyce's managerial career has taken in spells at Blackpool, Notts County, Bolton, Newcastle and Blackburn.
Now he is down south at West Ham and, despite some complaints about style of football, he has delivered results at Upton Park.
Allardyce usually does — hence he got the call from East London in the first place.
He was appointed in 2011, following the Hammers' relegation from the Premier League, and masterminded an immediate return to the top division thanks to a play-off final win over Blackpool.
And Allardyce's team had no problem settling back in at the highest level, finishing tenth last term to earn him a new contract.
This season Allardyce is demanding an improvement, with 50 points — four more than West Ham got last season — set by the manager as the target back in August.
Their attempt to reach that tally has started a little slowly, with home defeats by Everton, Stoke and Manchester City already incurred this season as well as a narrow loss at Hull.
West Ham did open up with a victory, against Cardiff City, while there have been creditable draws at Southampton and St James' Park.
But the result of the season by some distance came on West Ham's last away trip, to Tottenham Hotspur before the recent international break.
Few gave Allardyce's men a chance at White Hart Lane, so their Ravel Morrison-inspired 3-0 win goes down as perhaps the most eye-catching scoreline anywhere in the Premier League so far this term.
It is no wonder, therefore, that Allardyce is looking for a repeat performance as West Ham set out on their travels once more.
"Certainly the last away performance at Tottenham is something we have to try to emulate at Swansea," he said.
"They've eventually won, having not won at home for a very long time, against Sunderland.
"So we have to go there with a positive attitude and say to the players: 'I want you to perform like you did at Tottenham and if you do that, you're going to give Swansea a hell of a game and will get chances to win the game'.
"Swansea, as good as they are, are not as good as Tottenham, so if we get to that level, we'll get the opportunity.
"Whether we take it or not will be a different matter."
Swansea could not quibble with Allardyce's assertion that they are not as strong as Spurs.
But the suggestion that they will be beaten if West Ham can perform may rankle a little with Michael Laudrup's players.
Swansea, after all, pride themselves on the fact that they can trouble anyone — even the very best sides — at the Liberty Stadium if they perform.
And as good as West Ham are, they are not as good as the best sides in the country.
As Allardyce points out, Laudrup's men have not been formidable on their own patch in recent times.
But having ended their eight-game stretch without a home league win against the Black Cats, they may now be that little more determined to get another.
Like Sunderland — and unlike the previous SA1 fixtures this term — this is a game against a team who Laudrup regards as one of Swansea's genuine rivals in the top flight.
And given that it is at home, he will be disappointed with anything less than a victory.
The question mark against Swansea is whether they can back up last Saturday with another winning performance, for they have not managed successive Premier League victories in almost 11 months.
Not since his team took West Brom apart in SA1 and then won so memorably at Arsenal on December 1 last year has Laudrup been able to toast back-to-back league triumphs.
It is a startling statistic, and one Swansea's manager would love to wipe out this weekend.
If the goal is to be achieved, Swansea may have to raise their performance level having struggled initially to trouble Sunderland before taking them apart in the second half.
West Ham are unlikely to crumble the way Sunderland did – even if they did self-destruct a little when they last visited Landore, James Collins's loose backpass helping Swansea on their way to a comfortable 3-0 victory.
Swansea can expect Allardyce's team to be powerful — even though the injured Andy Carroll will not feature — well-organised and hard-working.
And there is also the possibility that West Ham will be fresher than their hosts given that they have had a blank week since last Saturday's defeat by Manchester City.
Swansea could climb into the top half of the table with a win — a position of strength going into next weekend's South Wales derby.
To make it happen, they must be prepared to roll up their sleeves.