March 11 2014 Latest news:
By Nick Wright
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Sam Allardyce is glad he went the extra mile to sign Adrian last summer and believes the Spaniard could be the best goalkeeper he’s ever worked with.
Adrian, who joined West Ham on a free transfer from Real Betis last year, has impressed since dislodging Jussi Jaaskelainen as the Hammers’ first choice.
The 27-year-old has played a vital part in West Ham’s remarkable record of 13 clean sheets this season and he will be looking for a fifth consecutive shut-out when Southampton visit Upton Park on Saturday.
Allardyce is delighted with Adrian’s impact and the Hammers boss has revealed that he travelled to Spain himself to push the deal through at the end of last season.
“It was through the usual word of mouth and the usual contacts that come your way,” said Allardyce when reflecting on how Adrian’s move came about.
“After a little bit of scouting we sent Martyn Margetson, our goalkeeping coach, to try and have a look at him. Then it was about persuading him that we were the club to come to.
“We finally watched a Real Betis game in Seville, myself and Martin. Afterwards we met up with the agents and Adrian and his fiancé at the time.
“That work proved to him that it was a good club to come to. I think that swayed it in the end, that little bit of personal contact; Martyn – who he was going to work with – and myself actually turning up on his own patch.
“He’s a fantastic lad. He’s pretty quiet and gets on with his work. He enjoys working every day with Martin.
“I think his ambition was to come here, that was another big element in our favour.
“The fact that he’d been at Real Betis all his life and allowed himself to run out of contract was a big decision for him at the time.
“We’re now finding the benefit of that, I’m glad to say.”
Allardyce admits it wasn’t an easy decision to drop Jaaskelainen, a loyal servant from his Bolton days.
“It’s a hard challenge for me as a manager to have two very good goalkeepers,” he said.
“I’ve left Jussi out who, in the early stages of the season, kept six clean sheets out of ten matches.
“But Adrian came into the cup matches and our cup run was very good in the Capital One Cup this year, right the way through to the semi-final.
“From then on he’s taken the challenge up. It’s disappointing for Jussi but I think Jussi understands that he’s performing exceptionally well.
“Hopefully it continues. There’s an early surge when a goalkeeper or a player goes into the team, but it’s about maintaining that level of concentration and consistency. That is always the biggest challenge for a goalkeeper at this level.”
Asked if Adrian was the best keeper he has worked with, Allardyce added: “It’s early stages yet but it looks like it.
“I’ve had Steve Harper, Shay Given, Paul Robinson, Jussi and Rob Green, but I think he looks like it.
“For us it’s a really good age. He can be here for a long time as a goalkeeper now.”