It’s only ten games in but West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has already gone double or nothing and declared his side’s trip to Norwich a “six pointer.”
A loss to an increasingly beleagured looking Chris Hughton’s side would see the Hammers drop below the Canaries into the bottom three before a serious of games that will no doubt be worth double the points to big Sam as they face Chelsea, Fulham, Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Sunderland and Manchester United before a boxing day trip to Arsenal.
While the 3-0 defeat of Tottenham at White Hart Lane may well be worth more than mere points to the supporters, Allardyce says it is the results against the teams around him that will count towards the end of the season.
It has always been more important for me. Those are the games that if you play your best you have got a really good chance of winning. You can play your best against the big boys, give all you’ve got and be very, very good but still lose a game of football because of the amount of talent and the money they have spent,” he said.
“I always focus on these, they are the bigger games for us, the games you need to play at your best and give yourself a chance.”
In the opposite dugout Hughton will have a similar view though his side’s 7-0 loss to Manchester City last weekend showed less than the ‘giving it all you’ve got’ Allardyce refers to.
Both former Newcastle managers, they know that it is getting to the time of the season when the managerial cull begins and Hughton in particular looks to be in the line of fire but the Irishman is confident he will get a fair chance to drag Norwich out of the bottom three.
“We are all very much united here. The chief executive and directors have been very supportive and we are all pulling in the same direction. Everybody is hurt but our only focus now is winning against West Ham on Saturday,” he said.
“A win or two would change the situation dramatically.”
With the Londoners failing to score in six of their ten opening matches a single goal could be enough if Norwich can stay disciplined at the back against less than adventurous opposition.
Allardyce seems content to bide his time until Andy Carroll returns from injury to become the ground-level target of his high ball attack so Hughton may only need to keep his charges in line and hope that it ends goalless like last season’s encounter, which would very much be a point gained rather than five dropped for both managers.