There was a telling comment from Sam Allardyce over the weekend, shortly after his appointment as Sunderland boss was confirmed.
Allardyce remarked it was “nice to feel loved” after his wife Lynne had encountered vast swathes of positivity from Sunderland fans reacting to the 60-year-old’s appointment, as she scoured the internet messageboards.
I’ve not been lavished with trophies, but when you look at where I’ve been, the club has always finished up better than when I first arrivedDick Advocaat
It wasn’t such a happy-clappy relationship with supporters in his previous existence.
A section of West Ham fans were never convinced by Allardyce’s appointment at Upton Park in the summer of 2011; a nostalgic fog prompting them to constantly rue his inability to subscribe to the “West Ham way”... whatever that is.
Fractious incidents followed as a result.
Allardyce cupped his ear to the crowd at the final whistle of a 2-1 home win over Hull after the Hammers had been jeered off by the boo boys.
But perhaps – as was the case at another of Allardyce’s former employers Blackburn (now languishing in the Championship after sacking him four years ago) – West Ham fans will only truly appreciate the scale of his achievements when they look back in hindsight.
Allardyce inherited a side that had just been relegated and got them back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. Top flight consolidation followed, with finishes of 10th, 13th and 12th.
Successor Slaven Bilic inherited a squad with such solid foundations, that West Ham were able to add signings of the calibre of Dimitri Payet, Victor Moses and Alex Song (for a second spell) this summer, prior to their move to the Olympic Stadium.
Regardless of style or footballing philosophy, that progress makes some reading.
After three successive near misses with the drop, what Sunderland (and Ellis Short) would give for such top flight solidity.
“I’ve not been lavished with trophies, but when you look at where I’ve been, the club has always finished up better than when I first arrived – none more so than my last club,” said Allardyce during his opening press conference as Sunderland boss yesterday.
“They were devastated by relegation and finished in 12th, 13th and 10th in the Premier League.
“Wouldn’t Sunderland love that in the next three years?
“We had a good structure at West Ham – irrespective of what people might say – and we recruited very well.
“We made some mistakes, but ultimately our recruitment made the team so much better.
“It looks like a very successful Premier League club at this moment in time and doesn’t have to worry about relegation, which is basically done over a four-year period by me.
“We’re already in the Premier League here, rather than in the Championship, so hopefully we can achieve that a little quicker than at West Ham.”
There will be an evolution, rather than revolution, policy to Allardyce’s management in the initial stages of his reign, with no leeway of time to experiment.
Strengthening a defence that has conceded 18 goals in the opening eight games will inevitably be the subject of his main focus early on.
But as time progresses, Allardyce hopes to put his stamp on a club whose jumble of philosophies from a conveyor belt of managers has been a prime reason for its struggles.
“If you’re to survive as a manager, you have to come through the survival period, and that’s winning football matches,” he added.
“Even when you want to change things and want to put someone in a different position, that’s only achievable in the longevity of your reign.
“The only way you extend your reign at any football club is by winning matches.
“That gives you the opportunity to take the club in your direction and make sure it becomes better and better.
“I think everyone would understand that I’ve done that in my career.”