CHRISTMAS is coming, but there’s only one type of carol Sam Allardyce is interested in: Andy Carroll.
Allardyce saw his side draw a blank against Sunderland at the weekend – the fifth time the Hammers have failed to score in their last eight Premier League games.
And the under-pressure West Ham boss all but admitted afterwards that his current squad is a busted flush without its injured £15m man.
The club’s record signing – yet to play in a season where West Ham have scored just 13 goals in 16 games – watched from the stands as his toothless team-mates were outplayed by Gus Poyet’s men on Saturday.
And although Allardyce would have wanted it otherwise, he admitted he understood why the questions he would face in his post-match Press conference would be dominated by talk of the former Newcastle and Liverpool frontman, who is working his way back from a broken foot.
“The return of Andy Carroll will make us better, but there’s no point in talking about him until he’s fit, just like there’s no point in talking about the other four or five players out,” he argued.
“When these players come back we will improve and, of course, then we will look to add to the squad in January.
“But when you look at the stats, they are quite glaring in terms of how many games we win with Andy Carroll in the side and how many we don’t when he’s absent – that’s the reason why we bought him in the summer.”
Without Carroll and his former Tyneside team-mate, the suspended Kevin Nolan, West Ham laboured all afternoon against the Wearsiders.
“I thought we lacked a spark,” Allardyce agreed.
“I thought there was a little too much edge in our play – the simple balls going astray a bit more often than they needed to – and it meant we were never able to put Sunderland under the sort of pressure that we’d exerted on Fulham in winning our last home game.
“That meant we ended up with a dogged affair rather than the good creative football we previously played.
“We were looking for one of our creative players to produce a moment of genius, something a bit special to get the ball in the back of the net.
“But we couldn’t find it and so a draw was probably a fair result after that.
“It was disappointing, but, in the end, I think we got what we deserved.
“Had we got more than that I would have been delighted, but I can’t complain about the point, given the performance.
“There’s a bit of nervous tension and anxiety around our place and this was a game that both teams really could have done with winning.
“We’ve got some difficult games coming up, so getting three points against Sunderland would have alleviated the pressure a bit, but at least we made sure we got the one point.”