SAM Allardyce admitted that West Ham could “almost start thinking of their holidays” after victory at Sunderland all but guaranteed the Londoners’ Premier League status for another season.
As a Sunderland player in the 1980s, Allardyce helped the club stay in the top flight in his sole season at Roker Park.
Last night, his win at the Wearsiders’ expense made the Black Cats firm favourites for the drop.
“I was very proud of my players,” said the West Ham boss.
“I think in this league taking your opportunities is critical to winning games and we took our chances well.
“Andy Carroll used his biggest asset to put us 1-0 up with a beautiful header and that gave us the confidence to expose the spaces Sunderland would leave trying to get back into the game.
“We did the same early in the second half when we got our second goal.
“We had a bit of a mad 20 minutes after Adam Johnson scored a great goal but we held on for a fantastic three points at a vital stage of the season.
“We are out of all trouble and almost safe on the back of a fine run of form.
“I feel that we can nearly think about our holidays!”
Allardyce has been under pressure at Upton Park for most of the season with the Hammers in and around the bottom three for the first half of the season.
But a run of form which has largely coincided with the return of Carroll has swept them up the table into the comfort of mid-table.
Allardyce pointed out: “We’ve taken 15 points from our last eight games and that has made all the difference.
“Every game in the Premier League is a tough one, every game away from home is tough and we knew how tough it would be at Sunderland with them fighting for their lives.
“So it was a fantastic win at this stage of the season for us.
“We are not mathematically safe but it will be very difficult for the bottom three to catch us now.
“The important thing for us is that we have taken three points off one of the teams in the bottom three and deprived them of those points as another game slips away.”