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Allardyce believes the best of Wanyama yet to come

Southampton midfielder Victor Wanyama should be a definite starter and doesn’t deserve coming on from the bench, but the best awaits the Kenyan star next season, said West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce.

Big Sam has been following Wanyama keenly and described him as a talented player in an exclusive interview with head of the tail end of the Barclays Premier League season.

The Hammers appear safe on 37 points, six clear of the drop zone and although the coach believes it will be a ceremonial procession in the remaining fixtures with a view to cashing in on the gains he has made and shoring up the side next season, he is not resting on his laurels.

Big Sam was his usual cheerful self during the 15-minute interview, his first with a Kenyan media house, confessing he craved for a Kenyan safari and spoke of his immense respect for football-loving rock star, Robbie Williams of the “Millennium” super hit fame.

I asked him what he knew about Kenya apart from the athletes who can run on, and on… and he let out a hearty laugh.

“My friends tell me about how beautiful Kenya is and how they have had a great time there,” he said.

“It would be great to go on safari in your country and one day I look forward to doing that, pretty soon,” said Allardyce, who took part in a special Q&A session with Mark Noble as part of the Barclays’ campaign to thank fans and community heroes.

Kenyan scenes feature prominently in Premier League sponsors Barclays’ tribute to its global Premiership fans themed round the premise that “long distance (football) relationships can be difficult.”

West Ham might have appeared safe a fortnight ago, but then they lost 1-0 to rejuvenated Crystal Palace last week, the defeat came hot on the heels of a 3-1 loss to stuttering Arsenal at the Emirates.

Make huge impact

Again, another 1-0 loss to West Brom last weekend means Big Sam won’t rest easy in the remaining two fixtures at home to Spurs this weekend and away to Man City on May 11.

“Mathematically, we are not safe and my objective is to get as many points as possible out of our remaining matches, end the season on the high and make fans happy as they go out and enjoy the sun in the summer,” said Allardyce.

He believes that after one season in the Premier League, Wanyama is much wiser and predicted that the former Celtic star will make a huge impact next season for the Saints.

Big Vic had a standout game in the 2-0 win over Europe-chasing Everton and Allardyce thinks the Kenyan star is getting into the groove.

“The level of football in the Scottish League is not as high as the premiership and Wanyama has learnt a lot in his first season so we expect him to make an impact next season….he’s a strong player and really doesn’t deserve coming on from the bench,” said the former Bolton Wanderers manager. 

Allardyce expressed his admiration for African players, especially Manchester City’s Ivorian Yaya Toure.

“Luiz Suarez has had a great season, but for a player to score 22 goals from the midfield and making several assists is something special and Yaya Toure is definitely my best player this season,” he said.

Allardyce’s best spell in the premiership was with Bolton whom he steered to a sixth place finish in the 2004/05 season when they qualified for the first time ever for the UEFA Cup, falling to France’s Marseille in their maiden European campaign.

Under Allardyce, Bolton boasted of having one of the most talented players, Nigeria’s Augustine Azuka “Jay Jay” Okocha whom Big Sam said was the best player to have come out of Africa.”

“Okocha was an amazing player, not only for his skill, but his personality off the pitch. For a player to come out of difficult conditions in Africa and enjoy the mastery of four languages is extraordinary,” said Allardyce. 

Okocha was able to learn English, Turkish, French and German thanks to his spells in the different leagues with Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany), Paris Saint-Germain (France), Fenerbahce (Turkey) and Bolton Wanderers (England).

Big Sam is a passionate developer of English football and has been at it for 14 years.

Asked if he would be spotted at a rock concert, he said: “Not really. But I love Williams and I’ve worked with him in the Soccer Aid charity at Old Trafford for several years.”

“He’s a good left back too and many people don’t know that his favourite team is actually Port Vale!” said Allardyce.

Sam Allardyce was speaking at a Barclays community event. This season Barclays is thanking fans, community heroes, players and managers for making the game what it is. Join the conversation using #YouAreFootball.