sport

Collins backing for Allardyce

James Collins believes the West Ham board's decision to stick with Sam Allardyce will reap dividends this season.

Speculation was rife last season that Allardyce was on borrowed time after widespread supporter disquiet over tactics and performances.

But co-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold stood by their manager, and Collins feels that can only be for the benefit of the club.

"As soon as the news came out over the summer the lads were delighted," Collins said. "He has done well for the last two years, we weren't too happy last season but we finished 13th in the end.

"He is so good, he sets out a plan for the whole season and how many points we need to finish as high as we can and improve on last year.

"The first couple of years is always tough - you see teams stay up in the first season and struggle in the second year. Last year we weren't too happy but a lot of teams would have taken that.

"We are looking to kick on this year, the gaffer has already brought in a couple of new signings and I'm sure there will be more.

"Not once has the gaffer ever told us to play direct. It is about winning football matches, before every game he works out the best way to win and that is how we go out and play."

Collins was speaking on the first day of pre-season training, where new signings Mauro Zarate and Cheikhou Koutate are expected to be joined shortly by Ipswich Town defender Aaron Cresswell.

"Defensively we did alright last season," Collins added.

"We had 14 clean sheets so, like the gaffer has said, we need to concentrate on scoring more goals - that is why he has brought in Teddy Sheringham to improve us in the attacking half. Hopefully we can score more goals and get off to a better start.

"The defenders have all been here a while now and know each other's game very well so whoever is asked to play knows what is expected of them - it is a great group of lads so hopefully we can start off well and kick on from there."