Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Had It Been a Vintage Year, Sir Alex's Men Would Have Found Another Gear

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Had It Been a Vintage Year, Sir Alex's Men Would Have Found Another Gear

Article excerpt

Byline: Sam Allardyce West Ham manager

WE already know who the champions are but there are still three weeks to go this season. Does that make Manchester United a great side or is this not one of Sir Alex's vintage teams? There is always a tendency to look back and say 'this or that team were better'.

That's human nature and I feel if you win the Premier League at a canter, as United have, then there isn't the same intensity and hyperbole that there usually is at the end of the season. Last year there was a huge aura about the final day with the two Manchester clubs involved. At the end everyone collectively took a big breath and said: "Wow, what a season that was."

Often you need that intensity to drive the players to get where they want to go -- this season the United squad haven't been asked to do that.

My feeling is there was another gear there if they needed it. We expected them to be involved in the Champions League and the cups right to the wire but that didn't happen and so the demands and stresses on those players have been far less.

You could, for example, see the fatigue in the Chelsea players in their FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City.

They can disguise that against lesser opposition but when they had to go and [bar]Last week, after we drew 2-2 with United, Sir Alex called Upton Park a "war zone". He was upset about Andy Carroll's challenge on his keeper but he was wrong because, having looked at it again, Nemanja Vidic pushed him. The way Andy went into David de Gea always suggested to me that something had happened and I was right -- he was pushed. The "war zone" quote, however, does suggest that Upton Park has become a tough place to visit, which is correct -- not just because of our physical presence but also because of our ability and determination to win matches.

play City, you could see tiredness taking its toll. The thing that really impresses me about Manchester United is their consistency. Are this team as good as the Treble-winning side? Probably not -- but they were more than good enough.

It's the same with Sir Alex -- he has consistently built more teams than anyone else in football. …

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