Not everyone likes Sam Allardyce. He's a big, loud man who coaches unattractive football. West Ham have been only barely more watchable than Stoke City under his watch, and at their best are rarely more than boring to watch.
That said, Big Sam has done Liverpool some pretty solid favors in the past. Last season, he took Andy Carroll on loan when no one else would touch him, paying a decent loan fee in the process. Then in January, he took on Joe Cole, getting his wages off Liverpool's books. This past summer, he paid Liverpool a pair of surprisingly handsome transfer fees to get Carroll on a permanent deal and to get Stewart Downing out of Anfield, a gift that Liverpool fans should be forever thankful for.
Now, Allardyce has a chance to forever be enshrined in Anfield lore. If West Ham emerge from the Etihad victorious, Liverpool will win the title assuming they beat Newcastle. To hear Allardyce tell it, he wants to see exactly that happen, and he wants to do it for Steven Gerrard. "From a personal point of view, I'd like to see Steven Gerrard win it," he said in his pre match press conference. "It's the last thing he hasn't quite achieved for Liverpool."
To see a gesture of respect like that for Liverpool's captain is heart-warming. Gerrard and Liverpool as a whole are rarely accorded such courtesy these days, so to see another manager wanting to do what he can to help them win the title is exceptional. If West Ham comes through, they and Allardyce will be due much gratitude.
Of course, West Ham have badly lost all three meetings with Manchester City this season, falling 3-1 at home in the league and losing the League Cup semifinal 9-0 on aggregate. Still, West Ham's bunker-and-counter is a style that City have struggled with at times this season, especially when faced with a more physical striker like Andy Carroll.
For a few hours, at least, we will all be West Ham fans. Don't let us down, Sam.