Clash of methods as Allardyce meets Pardew
In-form West Ham visit high-on-confidence Bolton in a significant and intriguing FA Cup fifth round tie this afternoon. Both teams are flying high in the Premiership and should be highly determined to capitalise on their excellent play this season by making a serious bid to win the FA cup.
There is no doubt that West Ham have been a revelation. Not only do they hold a high Premiership position, but they have achieved their position by playing a fantastic style of attacking passing football. I reckon it's great for the Premiership to have a new team committed to this culture of play.
Alan Pardew has assembled a side with perfect balance: Konchesky and Etherington raids down the left while Benayoun provides good trickery and innovation down the right. I have also been really impressed with the emergence of young captain Reo Coker, who makes superb attacking driving runs that Fabregas of Arsenal would do well to add to his game.
Pardew is getting the best out of Harewood and Zamora, who are forwards with good natural potential and athleticism. And his decision to draft in Gabbidon to partner Ferdinand is reaping solid defensive rewards.
Add the factor that his side is built on a deep base of English players, and I am seriously beginning to think that Pardew could be the leading candidate to be England manager in a few years time. FA cup success this season will be a phenomenal way to underline his future case for the role.
Sam Allardyce has far more managerial experience at the top level compared to Pardew, and this is a main reason why he is a leading candidate to take over the England job this year. He has magnificently drilled the 4-5-1 system into his side and has maximised the talents of players like Nolan, Davies, Ben Haim, and Gardner. But to fully persuade me of his case to be the next England manager it would be great if he can achieve this season one thing that he lacks: cup glory.
I will be very impressed by Pardew if he can lead his West Ham team to success at the Reebok this afternoon playing the attractive football that is becoming their trademark. My prediction, however, is that home advantage combined with the Allardyce method of disrupting the flow of the game with well-directed high balls and long-throws will swing the balance Bolton's way, and produce a result that will strengthen Allardyce's case for the England job.
Score prediction: 2-1 Bolton win.