There have been a lot changes at West Ham in 12 months but we’ve been revelling in the limelight and defying all odds this season, in my opinion.
January 2012 was a dull time of year for us fans. The club wasn’t at its best and many of us really contemplated our chances of securing promotion out of the Championship. The January transfer window saw Sam Allardyce bring in former Bolton Wanderers attacker Ricardo Vaz Te after numerous names were launched around. This signing wasn’t to the delight of many as they were believed Carlos Tevez wanted a return to Upton Park.
But we narrowly made our way back to the Premier League through the Portuguese winger as his goal in the dying embers of the Play-Off final rocketed us into the top flight. Vaz Te, who had signed from Barnsley also added flair to the pitch as well as banging in numerous goals, including an over-head kick against Brighton and Hove Albion.
We soon, however, found ourselves being tipped for relegation as we prepared for the start of the Premier League season but Allardyce worked his magic in the summer transfer window to bring in Andy Carroll, Mohammed Diame, Allou Diarra and Yossi Benayoun, as well as Matthew Jarvis who signed from Wolverhampton Wanderers. Despite Allardyce not being particularly liked by many of us due to his long ball tactics, he has revolutionised the side turning former flops, into fan favourites. Winston Reid is a prime example of this.
The New Zealand international has upped his game massively of late. The 24-year-old is currently one of the first names on the team-sheet and his beautiful defensive displays on the pitch this season looks set to earn him a two year extension to his current contract. It goes without saying that Sam Allardyce has turned out to be a brilliant West Ham manager despite his long ball tactics. And as he said he would, he has got the team playing ‘the winning way’ and I believe we are on the road to success.
We are currently in the bottom half of the table despite our promising start to the season. We’ve drawn with reigning champions Manchester City and also battered London rivals, Chelsea in an emphatic 3-1 at Upton Park. I’ve also been very impressed with Mohammed Diame who signed on a free transfer in the summer from Wigan Athletic. The Senegal midfielder has been immense for us this season, dominating the pitch in almost every game he has played.
As we continue to go from strength to strength, I believe we look well clear of trouble, as Southampton and Reading look set for relegation, unless they pick up their defensive displays. 2013 looks like it could be a great year for the club as we look ahead to the possibility of moving into the Olympic Stadium, and although many doubt its potential, it could see us rise to become one of English football’s big-wigs.
As well as this, we will get to spectate many beautiful games as the Hammers push on for survival, and a top half finish. Sam Allardyce was previously taunted, and many have attempted to drive him away from the club, but the tables have turned as, I believe, the Hammes faithful want the owners to offer the big man a new contract. We are also set to get 2013 off with a bang with a home game against Norwich City in the Premier League before hosting Manchester United in the FA Cup and I hope we are aiming for a cup run to give us fans something to sing about.
Having said that, the fantastic support doesn’t need encouragement, trophies, or even wins to be the fans they are. We continue to be the twelfth man for the club, and as always, we travel in huge numbers, outsinging all, and rocking stadium to stadium on our travels, and at home. Last December we dropped 11 points from a possible 15 losing to Burnley, Reading, and Derby County.
How far we’ve come since then as we rampantly smash our way through teams. Mohammed Diame has been key to that, and his superiority has been portrayed many times this season. When brought on as a substitute against Chelsea, with the scoreline at 1-0, he was the game changer, and his powerful performance won the game for us.
However, the central midfielder tore his hamstring against Liverpool in the 3-2 defeat at Upton Park and I hope he gets back into the starting line-up quickly. Many West Ham fans have been singing the praises of their club, the management, the ownership and the performances on the pitch, as a revolutionised club hits the scene. A historical club that was so close to liquidation was saved, and has now proved its worth to English football after being relegated two seasons ago, bouncing straight back up. We have proved we are no pushovers and that we deserves a place in the top tier of England.