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Ricard Vaz Te's late strike sent the Hammers back into the Premier League at the first time of asking, but the ex-Bolton boss needs backing if he is to be a success in East London

By James Goldman at Wembley

It was unconvincing, unattractive but ultimately successful. By hook or by crook West Ham are back in the Premier League, vindicating David Sullivan and David Gold’s decision to entrust Sam Allardyce with the responsibility of ensuring their club made an instant return to the big time.

With three minutes remaining of an absorbing contest, the West Ham owners were unsure whether they would be planning for trips to Old Trafford or The Valley next season when clarity and confirmation arrived in the shape of a fortuitous break and one swipe of Ricardo Vaz Te’s right foot.


87 min GOAL!! Ricardo Vaz Te smashes in the winner for West Ham from five yards out when Carlton Cole wriggles through on goal and nudges it away from the diving body of Seasiders goalkeeper Matt Gilks. Blackpool 1-2 West Ham United!
Both men, Gold in particular, who gambled so heavily by taking control of a club that has lurched from one crisis to another over recent years, indulged in the gleeful post-match celebrations and rightfully so.

West Ham are a club befitting top flight football and may soon be in possession of an arena truly fit for it in the form of the Olympic stadium. But when the dust settles and the effects of the celebratory champagne subsides, Gold and Sullivan, as well as Allardyce, will know much is to be done over the summer months if West Ham are to develop into something more than a glorified yo-yo club.

But for an air kick from Steven Dobbie, West Ham would be staring at a potential financial abyss, rather than readying themselves for the riches of the Premier League. Those financial benefits will need to be reinvested in a team that was sculpted to achieve promotion and little else.

How many of those who started at Wembley will thrive in a Premier League which will contain few soft touches next season? Norwich and Swansea both thrived last season by staying true to their beliefs and a pattern of play on which their managers insist upon, while QPR, having survived by the skin of their teeth, are likely to be shopping at the top end of the market.

Allardyce’s methods have been debated extensively over the years. Unfairly, his Bolton side which contained the likes of Jay-Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff were dubbed bullies. In truth, though an uncompromising outfit, they were far more pleasing on the eye than they were ever given credit for.

Much is to be done over the summer months if West Ham are to develop into something more than a glorified yo-yo club
The same cannot be said of this West Ham collaboration of experience and brute strength. More than that will be required to stay afloat in a Premier League which is rapidly moving away from that style of play, as sides even of Swansea’s ilk attempt to mimic the tiki-taka blueprint which has swept Spain and Barcelona to unprecedented success in recent years.

West Ham’s notoriously fickle fans will tolerate Allardyce’s methods while they are successful. Endurance, power and physicality are prerequisites for success in the Championship, but the crowd will quickly turn if the route one approach fails, as it surely will, in the Premier League.

There are several astute technicians in this West Ham side, players such as Mark Noble and Jack Collison, who must be allowed a freer rein next season, while Carlton Cole deserves more than to be utilised as a human battering ram.

To his credit, Allardyce has always been a shrewd operator in the transfer market. A season spent in the Championship may have alerted him to a few who will have slipped under the radar of the Premier League big-hitters, while his knowledge of the European scene is again underrated.

West Ham and indeed Allardyce should be granted the opportunity to savour the moment. The chance to celebrate in front of 40,000 fans at Wembley comes around once in a generation for this club, but a summer of shrewd investment is required if the Hammers are to gain the stability they have been craving in recent times.