What a difference a year makes. Well, two in the case of Hammers defender Winston Reid.
Cast your mind back to the opening day of the 2010 season, the last time West Ham were in the Premier League, and some of you will recall a dismal 3-0 defeat at Aston Villa. Yet that was the day that Reid made his debut in claret and blue, under Avram Grant, playing at right-back in a game to forget for him. That opening day defeat set a precedent for Reid and indeed the Hammers that season, as the centre-back was a solid fixture on the bench for Grant.
However, relegation turned out to be a blessing in the disguise for the 24-year-old, as a host of first-team regulars, including captain Matthew Upson, left the club, leaving Reid with renewed optimism, as Sam Allardyce was brought into the Upton Park hotseat. West Ham’s Championship campaign began with Reid being given a starting berth and the centre-back formed a promising partnership with James Tomkins, scoring his first goal in claret and blue away to Nottingham Forest in a 4-1 victory, as the Hammers made a solid start to the season.
The solid and passionate Kiwi continued to develop as a player, during his season culminating in scoring the winner against archrivals Millwall in a 2-1 victory at Upton Park, before we sealed Honest John our return to the Premier League. This season has seen the emergence of a more mature Reid.
From scoring in the 3-0 victory against Fulham earlier in the season, he has been in fantastic form alongside Collins, managing to record six clean sheets, one of which was against Premier League champions Manchester City. Just how far Reid has come was apparent in West Ham’s last game – a hard-fought 0-0 draw at West Bromwich Albion. After a stalemate first 45 minutes, the Baggies launched a number of attacks on the Hammers rearguard.
And who was the man throwing his body in front of shots, diverting dangerous low crosses inside his own sixyard box over the bar? You’ve guessed it, Reid. I know many will argue that it is far too early to discuss nominations for Hammer of the Year, but I would definitely put our magnificent Kiwi defender’s name forward. There is no surprise that Reid is attracting apparent interest from other Premier League clubs and from other teams in Europe.
It may have been hard work developing him into a top defender, it will be even harder to keep him in claret and blue. However, with rumoured talks of a new, bumper five-year deal, it seems West Ham may have found themselves another gem of a defender. And who would have thought we would have Grant to thank for that?!