Israel and Finland ‘the same’, says Big Sam

West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce is no longer able to distinguish between the nations of Finland and Israel, club sources have confirmed. The unfamiliar experience of guiding a club to the upper echelons of the English Premier League while playing attractive, attack-minded football, has had a catastrophic effect on the manager’s mental stability, and his discovery of both hummus and a half-eaten bowl of vispipuuru in the fridge at the club’s training facility has apparently given rise in his fragile mind to the odd delusion that the Hammers have on their books a veteran player called ‘Jussi Benayoun’. The curious development became public after a bizarre post-match interview following the London club’s impressive victory over Swansea City earlier this month; “Listen, you know what you get with Jussi” opined Mr Allardyce, “although actually, that’s not strictly true, because one minute he’s a goalkeeper and the next minute he’s an attacking midfielder. But let me tell you, his application in training has been absolutely top drawer, and if he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’ll get his chance, for sure. Also, I firmly believe that football can be a powerful tool in helping to bring about peace and reconciliation in Lapland – and the lad symbolises that hope more than anyone else I know.”

Club officials have been reluctant to comment on their manager’s unusual affliction, instead choosing to focus on the undoubted positives of the current campaign; indeed, Joint-Chairman David Sullivan deflected an inquiry as to how Mr Allardyce could be expected to cope with possible encounters with the likes of HJK Helsinki and Maccabi Haifa, in the event of the club’s qualifying for European football, by acclaiming his man as “absolutely, a proper football geezer; weeurgh, triffic – on the ‘ead son!” Club captain and long-time Allardyce associate Kevin Nolan has, however, been more forthcoming on the subject: “Obviously, it’s sad to see in someone you’ve known and worked with for a long time” he observed ruefully, “although to be fair, there haven’t really been any problems as a result of it – just the odd awkward moment, like when the gaffer sent Andy Carroll to Waitrose to get some kosher bacon in ‘for the Finnish boys’.”

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