Gary Rowell column - Ex-Sunderland team-mate Allardyce is the great survivor at West Ham

Andy Carroll
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SUNDERLAND face one of the Premier League’s in-form teams when West Ham visit the Stadium of Light this weekend.

Along with Southampton, they are probably the surprise team of the season so far; sitting in the top four and proving a lot of people wrong – even a lot of their own fans.

There were big sections of the West ham faithful wanting Sam Allardyce out last season, but he’s turned things around with some excellent summer signings and a more attractive style of play.

I shared a dressing room with Big Sam when he joined Sunderland from Bolton in the early 80s and from what I’ve seen in his interviews, I don’t think he’s changed too much.

What you see is what you get with Sam, he’s a survivor and you don’t get to be a manager for as long as he’s been if you can’t do the job.

He took over West ham when they’d just been relegated and won promotion in his first season; kept them up and now has them in a Champions League position.

His critics say his teams are negative and play long ball, but that can’t be levelled at West Ham this season when they’ve been a lot easier on the eye while also getting good results.

The one thing that is always true of any Allardyce team is that they will be organised, difficult to break down and a danger at set pieces, especially now that Andy Carroll is back from injury.

Carroll has always been a thorn in our side and with his confidence up after scoring twice against Swansea on Sunday, he’ll be a big danger to the back four this weekend.

After playing Chelsea and Manchester City in our last two home games, the visit of West Ham is being seen as a chance to get all three points.

While I certainly see it as a winnable game, the form that the Hammers are in, means it could be just as difficult as the previous two Stadium of Light games.