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May 11, 2014

West Ham's limp effort sums up Allardyce tenure

While Manchester City will grab the headlines for sealing the title, Sunday's procession reflected poorly on Sam Allardyce's West Ham. They had nothing to play for, and it showed.

Allardyce's plan -- as so often this season -- seemed to have no substance beyond making the opposition sweat by throwing everyone behind the ball and hoping for a break at the other end. It's at times like this when criticism of the manager and his setup is warranted. The tactic was to stifle the opposition, perhaps taking them to 0-0 at the break and then trying to worry a nervous crowd in the second period.

- Brewin: City seal the title - Report: Man City 2-0 West Ham

That plan went awry on 39 minutes when Samir Nasri decided to try a speculative shot from 20 yards. The ball kept low and just eluded Adrian -- the television pundits suggesting the Spanish keeper could have done better -- to effectively kill the game as a spectacle.

There was little to worry City, and when captain Vincent Kompany turned on a shot that bounced off the back of Edin Dzeko four minutes after halftime, even the most pessimistic home supporter could afford to celebrate. West Ham failed to have a shot on target all afternoon, and their paucity of ideas was highlighted late when Allardyce took off the ineffective Andy Carroll and replaced him with Carlton Cole. Even at 2-0 down and limping along with nothing to show, the manager still thought it was not worthwhile to try two up front.

Liverpool were left to curse a fixture list that paired City with the Hammers, as the visiting side offered nothing in the way of hope for anyone looking for a repeat of the classic fixture against QPR two seasons ago. It must have been as much of a disappointment for the neutral watching millions as it was anyone who supported the away side.

With his future apparently to be discussed at a board meeting on Tuesday, Big Sam never seemed to want to chase the game. Had this fixture been played in October, the tactics could have been defendable, but with nothing bar a massive worldwide audience to entertain, Allardyce decided to keep the score low.

For the Hammers, it has been a season of frustration that was saved only by the fact that the expected relegation battle to end the campaign never materialised. This, though, was a day when the spotlight was on the blue side of Manchester, and when you look at the solitary defeat City have suffered at home, you would have to say that West Ham's chances of causing an upset were probably very small.

The attention will eventually turn to east London and Allardyce. His future is in doubt, and it will be interesting to see if this last fizzled effort will account for what transpires in talks behind closed doors. If he does go, this match may say a good deal about his spell as manager.

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