Sam Allardyce insists he didn’t take criticism from West Ham fans personally and admits it simply comes with the job.
The 61-year-old left the Hammers after four years at the end of last season when he decided his time in management might be up at roughly the same time as the club opted not to renew his contract.
He did so having weathered a storm of criticism from a section of the London club’s support over the style of football his team played, and with his head held high.
Just what response he will get when he walks to the dug-out this weekend remains to be seen – current Hammers boss Slaven Bilic has asked fans to give him a warm reception – but Allardyce, who admits to a tinge of regret about not leading the club into its new stadium, insists the brickbats simply come with the job.
“There’s always a small minority that shows some disapproval. West Ham is no different from any other club,” he said.
“They make themselves heard more than others sometimes, but it’s not a Sam Allardyce thing. It’s a West Ham thing, so it’s not really me because all the others have had the same amount of stick I had over the years anyway.
“If I was the manager at the time and they didn’t think I was doing well, it would be me, but before that it would be Harry Redknapp, before that it would be Alan Curbishley, before that it would be Alan Pardew, before that it would be Avram Grant, before that it would be…
“Whoever has been the West Ham manager has had a bit of stick no matter who they are, so it’s part of the job.”
Allardyce fulfilled his remit by dragging the Hammers back into the Premier League and stabilising them in the top division, but was persistently accused of not playing ‘the West Ham way’.
He said: “I still think it’s more around passion for the club. It’s the East End and East Enders like to see you wear your heart on your sleeve. Billy Bonds told me that when I chatted with him there.
“One of the reasons Billy Bonds was so popular at West Ham was the commitment he showed, the passion he showed for playing for West Ham, as well as his ability.
“When they talk about ‘the West Ham way’, about how pretty do you play your football, I’m not so sure that’s exactly what everybody means. That perception has been brought on by the media as much as the fans.
“The fans like to see a very talented, of course, but passionate player playing for West Ham.”
Allardyce revealed on the day the parting of the ways was confirmed in May last year that he would take a break from management, and retirement was a genuine option.
However, when Sunderland came calling in October, he could not fight the urge to return.
He said: “I thought it was time for me to pack in management at this level. I thought I’d done enough and had been doing it long enough. Obviously it didn’t take too long before I found out I did want to come back.”