Allardyce: ‘You come out fighting or you sink and die’

• You come out fighting or sink and die, says Allardyce
• Carroll likely to be on the bench for Cardiff game

Sam Allardyce has insisted in an email to West Ham fans he will "come out fighting" following his team's dismal 6-0 defeat at Manchester City, a result that has persuaded the club to drastically reduce under-18 ticket prices for the semi-final, second leg on Tuesday week.

West Ham, who have conceded 11 goals in their past two games and appear bereft of confidence ahead of their Premier League match at Cardiff City on Saturday, risk sliding to the bottom of the Premier League this weekend but are likely to be boosted by the return of their £15m striker Andy Carroll.

Carroll, who has not played since the end of last season due to a serious foot injury, has trained well this week and is expected to be selected on the bench by Allardyce, whose lack of attacking options in recent months have been a major cause for concern.

Allardyce on Thursday sent a determined message to West Ham supporters – "you either come out fighting or you sink and die" – despite a barren winter that has not provided a single league victory since November's home win against Fulham.

He said: "The players can't feel sorry for themselves. We are professionals and we've got to take the criticism thrown at us because that's what happens in the game at this level. We've got to be man enough to take it on the chin and be determined enough to show people that what they think at this particular moment in time is wrong.

"You either come out fighting or you sink and die – I come out fighting as a manager and my staff and players are the same. We've got to get out there, face the music and use it to anger us, if you like, make us mad, and win football matches.

"What we have to do now is get our defenders back in the team defending like we know we can, as a team, better. We have got to improve our clean-sheet ratio as quickly as possible and once we start doing that, we'll start winning more points and hopefully more games."

West Ham will permit under-18s to watch the second leg of their League Cup semi-final for £1 in a bid to increase the attendance for what looks like a dead-rubber against City. The fee will be the same for travelling under-18s from Manchester. However, adult tickets will not be reduced after going on sale for an initial £42.

West Ham's abject display at Eastlands followed a 5-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest in the third round of the FA Cup, and Allardyce's side will return to league action against Cardiff knowing that a defeat for them and a win for the bottom club Sunderland at Fulham would see the Hammers slip to the bottom of the table for the first time this season.

Allardyce added: "Many teams have gone to Manchester City and, like us, have suffered a painful time. It's hard to take and difficult to accept but the facts are that Manchester City are the best team in the league at home and have been the best team in the league since the start of the season." © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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