The Hammers sit fourth in the Barclays Premier League having enjoyed victories over last season’s top two, Manchester City and Liverpool, in recent weeks. The likes of Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia, Alex Song and Cheikhou Kouyate have all instantly taken to life at Upton Park and, alongside more established West Ham names such as Winston Reid and Mark Noble, the team have impressed in the opening stages of the season. Press Association “We have got to find that level of sustainability and consistency in our levels of results and performances. They have got to find out and I have got to find out if we are capable of that. “The big danger for us at Stoke is the hype surrounding us beating Manchester City cannot have a negative effect on us on Saturday and we don’t go out and produce the same level again – otherwise Stoke will beat us. “Stoke and Mark Hughes will be looking forward to us coming and thinking let’s put these to task and see if they can cope after that big result. “For me the players have a big test on Saturday and whether they can sustain that level of success they have achieved up to now.” If his players can prove that their early season form is more than just a flash in the pan, Allardyce has targets in mind for the coming years as West Ham prepare for their move to the Olympic Stadium in 2016. “I think, as a manager, sustainable progress is what it’s all about and you can be too slow and lose your job and then too quick and falter and then lose your job,” he added. “If you build slowly and steadily and success is improved year in, year out then you can eventually get to the stage where West Ham becomes like what an Everton is at the moment. That’s not only sustainability but looking at cup competitions and winning a trophy or getting into Europe, whatever it might be. “That can happen, if everything goes well, in this season or in the next two or three years perhaps – depending upon the investment and the improvement of the squad.” But Allardyce is keen to keep his players’ feet on the ground to ensure they are not sent crashing back down to Earth at Stoke on Saturday. “It’s not difficult for me but sometimes the players find it a bit difficult,” he said when asked about the expectation levels changing. “I said to the players don’t start reading about yourself too much or else we’ll have to start changing the size of the doors to get your heads through. So keep your feet on the ground and don’t read too much praise about yourself like you shouldn’t read too much of the criticism. “You play for the enjoyment and the praise that you get but make sure you manage it and control it well.” Having recorded notable victories over Liverpool and last weekend against champions City, West Ham have shown they can pick up points against the best sides in the league. But Stoke inflicted two defeats on the Hammers last season and Allardyce knows his team need to be focused on the task at hand at the Britannia Stadium and not get carried away. “We have got to maintain it and our levels of performance,” he said. “That is my responsibility because we have not been tested like this before and whether we can sustain this success. Manager Sam Allardyce has warned his West Ham players not to bask in the hype their recent results has created.
AC Milan star striker Mario Balotelli has said he would leave the pitch if again targeted by racist chants like those that led to a game suspension last weekend, Italian media reported Thursday.The 22-year-old international told CNN that he changed his mind from his intention to ignore racial abuse after he and other team-mates of African origin were jeered during a home game with Roma late Sunday.“If it happens one more time I am going to leave the pitch, because it is so stupid,” Balotelli said.“I spoke with (Kevin-)Prince (Boateng), and I was about to leave the pitch Sunday, but I thought that (people) would think we had difficulties in the game and we could have won 3-0 (on a disciplinary decision).“So I said it is better that we play, then we talk. If it was not for this reason, I would have left the pitch Sunday.”Balotelli reacted to the abuse by gesturing to silence the sector occupied by Roma fans as warnings from the public address system went unheeded before the game was suspended for 97 seconds. The striker moved from Manchester City to Milan in January, scoring 11 goals from 12 appearances with the Devils.Author: Alberto Cagliano