Some of us would quite like to run Allardyce a bath of sulphuric acid, to be honest, but being the spawn of Satan, he would probably come out smelling of roses anyway. But tonight really is an acid test in two senses: firstly defeat would confirm that we face a battle to make it into the top two places, with a host of clubs closing up on our heels; and secondly because this is an opportunity to measure him directly against the man who most West Ham fans would argue ranks alongside the worst manager the club has ever appointed.
Go back 12 months and Avram took the club to Blackpool and came away with a 3-1 victory. Now I have repeatedly reminded people that Grant had a 100% record against Championship opposition, but there have been very few opportunities to judge Grant's team against Allardyce's team directly. The 1-1 draw achieved at Birmingham duplicated our result last season, only in a less exciting way of course - we are talking Allardyce after all!
So now we will see. The Birmingham team that Grant's side played was, of course, much stronger than the dregs that Allardyce had to hold at bay - and strangely Zigic was used from the bench in both games, despite the problems that we have when he plays against us. If Birmingham are weaker this year, then what about Blackpool?
The Tangerine Dreamers have been stripped of Charlie Adam, their creative engine, and DJ Campbell, their main striker. Ollie has worked wonders again to maintain a promotion challenge and our 4-0 tonking of them at Upton Park shows how exposed they are defensively if a team gets at them. That result, of course, hugely bettered the 0-0 draw Grant achieved at the Boleyn last season, but Blackpool were on a roll at that point and the game was a complete freak, with a record number of shots on goal in a goalless game.
So, now we will see. Blackpool were desperate for the points last season, as were we. The same applies this time around too. Our team last season read:
Jacobsen, Gabbidon, Tomkins, Bridge
O'Neil, Noble, Parker, Obinna,
Three subs featured: Reid, Boa-Morte and Kovac.
Now arguably, the team that Allardyce will field tonight is stronger. He could pick Piquionne but he won't because he has better options. Vaz Te or Obinna? It's six of one and half a dozen of the other to be honest. McCartney or Bridge? Toss up. Faye or Gabbidon? Faye definitely. Jacobsen or O'Brien? I would go with O'Brien. Keane or Cole? Well Keane in any shirt other than Claret & Blue!
Tomkins is a year older and improved. The same applies to Reid. Noble is playing out of his skin and certainly wasn't last season, whilst most believe Green has recovered his confidence. Faubert or O'Neil? Well if O'Neil is better, Allardyce can use him! So the only "loss" is Parker, and the Blackpool goal last season came from a Scotty error, going through the back of Adam, in typical style, to concede a free kick which he then deflected for a corner, from which Blackpool scored with Green flapping at thin air.
So Blackpool are significantly weaker and we aren't. In fact, look at the subs used by Grant and compare Kovac and Boa with the probable options available to Allardyce - Maynard, O'Neil, Lansbury, Baldock, Demel - and you have to say Allardyce has a stronger hand, even with Taylor and Nolan sitting on their arses. Anything less than a victory tonight will represent a huge reverse on last season...
...so will Allardyce measure up to Grant or will he come up short? Dear God, if he aint as good as Grant, somebody should prepare him a bath of acid!