West Ham boss Sam Allardyce prepared for favourites tag

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce says his team will have to deal with being favourites to win the play-off final.

The Hammers will play for a place in the Premier League at Wembley on 19 May after beating Cardiff 3-0 at Upton Park to complete a 5-0 aggregate victory.

"It is big pressure for us," Allardyce said. "Whoever we get, Birmingham or Blackpool, we are probably going to be favourites and have to live with that.

"Hopefully we'll look forward to it and give another outstanding performance."

Allardyce was appointed West Ham manager last summer when Avram Grant was sacked following their relegation to the Championship, and they were considered favourites to make an immediate return to the top flight.

They were second in early March, only one point behind the leaders, but lost ground after drawing five matches in succession as Reading and Southampton secured the two automatic promotion places.

But the Hammers proved too strong for Cardiff over both legs in the play-off and now await the result of Wednesday's second-leg between Birmingham and Blackpool at St Andrew's, with the Tangerines holding a 1-0 advantage from the first game.

"The response at Cardiff and this performance were terrific. I'm pleased for everybody concerned with West Ham United," Allardyce said.

"We have a huge opportunity to get into the golden league, not for the money from my point of view but because that is where it all happens.

"There has been a lot of hard work and it paid off today. The players excited and entertained the crowd.

"We've controlled both games and tactically whatever Cardiff threw at us we dealt with. It was about how we broke them down and the attitude and energy of the players.

"It's been a long time I've been in the job and dealing with pressure was something I dealt with in the early part by talking to a lot of people. I'm very nervous inside but can control it on the exterior to keep players calm."

Top Stories