Football - Allardyce: Long-ball label "unfair"

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce admits he will never be able to shake off his reputation for being a long-ball merchant.

PA Sport

The Hammers will pass the all-important 40-point mark on Saturday if they beat Wigan at Upton Park.

Much has been made of Allardyce's supposed reliance on long-ball tactics this season, but the fact remains that his team are on course for a mid-table finish while Wigan, who pass the ball around more, are three points from safety with six games left.

The accusation that Allardyce's teams play too direct is one that has dogged him since he took up his first full management post in England with Blackpool almost 20 years ago.

The 58-year-old admitted this morning that Andy Carroll's chances of playing for England could be tainted by the fact that he plays for one of his teams, but the West Ham boss has given up trying to persuade people his long-ball tag is unjust.

"I don't fight against it (the reputation he has gained), I accepted it many years ago," the West Ham boss said. "I wouldn't encourage anyone to get tagged with that label because once you have got it, it doesn't leave you.

"The perception is totally and utterly wrong because we are where we are because we have many different tactical plans.

"I have been in management for many years now and I have been able to tactically set up against the opposition whichever way it might be.

"At some stage it might be direct. That causes the opposition problems. Manchester United played direct against us on Wednesday night, but everyone chose to ignore it.

"But they played direct better than we can because they have better passers so that's plain and simple for everyone to understand. Our form has been exceptional this season."

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