LONDON: West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has said he feels vindicated after the Hammers regained Premier League status at first attempt by defeating Blackpool – also relegated a year ago – by 2-1 at Wembley in the play-off final of the Championship [second division].
Meanwhile Allardyce’s old club Blackburn, having sacked him in the middle of the 2010-11 season, have crashed out of the Premier League this past season.
West Ham deserved victory on the simple strength of having finished 11 points clear of Blackpool in the regular season and having beaten them by four goals both home and away. Victory is worth around £45m in cash but also strengthens the club’s hand in negotiations over its application to become the long-term tenant of the London 2012 Olympic Stadium once the circus has left town.
Allardyce, 57, sacked by Blackburn and Newcastle after leaving Bolton before taking up his current post last year, was under pressure to deliver promotion and to prove his managerial qualities.
Once interviewed for the England job after Sven-Goran Eriksson’s departure, Allardyce believes he has rebuilt his reputation.
He said: “I was considered to be at the top of my industry when I was at Bolton. They were fifth when I left and having suffered two sackings, which were harsh, to say the least, it damaged my reputation and people didn’t consider me to be as good as I was. But I’m still achieving great things at a great football club.
“Bolton, Blackburn and Newcastle were all relegated in they seasons after I left so that says I must have done all right when I was there.”
Allardyce singled out Portuguese winger Ricardo Vaz Te, who scored the 87th-minute winning goal, as having been one of the best buys in a long career of bargain hunting. Vaz Te’s goal was his 12th for West Ham after his move from Barnsley for £500,000 on the last day of the transfer window in January.
“The goals he has scored are probably the reason why I’m sat here and we’re back in the Premier League,” said Allardyce. “He must be one of my best signings ever.”
One note of caution for Allardyce: half the teams who have won the second division playoff prize since 2000 have gone straight down again.
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