Last season, it is fair to say, West Ham were quite simply dire away from home.
Over 70 per cent of our points came at home last season and we scored fewer goals away from home than any other team in England. It is clear that our away form has got to improve this year as we cannot solely rely upon our performances at Upton Park again. Perhaps a change in tactics will achieve this. Throughout the transfer window West Ham have been linked with a fair few strikers: Remy, Hooper, Vydra, Cardozo and, more recently, Fabio Quagliarella and Roger Rojas.
It is clear that these players will be playing second fiddle to Andy Carroll (when he is fit) as Sam Allardyce generally plays a 4-2-3-1 formation with Carroll as the lone striker. Some of the players are big names and I personally cannot see them wanting to come to West Ham if they are going to warm the bench. Furthermore, the majority are also small goal scorers rather than target men. Therefore I believe that it is within West Ham’s away strategy that they should mainly be implemented.
Seeing as we have been heavily linked with Quagliarella, I will use him as the example. At Upton Park I would continue with the 4-2-3-1 formation: on our thin pitch it works a charm with Carroll up front and I believe it would have a similar effect even with the smaller striker. However away from home I would switch it to a 3-5-2 formation with this as the lineup: Jussi, Reid, Collins, Rat, Jarvis, Noble, Diame, Downing, Nolan, Carroll, Quagliarella.
With the three at the back it will give us more flexibility up front and also more of a danger, especially on the break. In some away games it may well backfire and we end up letting in three or four goals, however I believe that the increase in goals conceded will be offset by the goals we will score against the teams around us. Furthermore it doesn’t leave us that vulnerable at the back because Jarvis and Downing can both play as wingbacks. Most importantly our front three look incredibly dangerous; Nolan and Carroll always play well together and the second striker (in this case Quagliarella) would have a field day, latching onto Carroll’s knock downs; it’s an attack that has goals written all over it.
If needs be and we are one or two goals to the good then we can return to the 4-2-3-1 to hold on to a lead, something which I feel much less anxious about under Allardyce than under past West Ham managers. Most importantly, what in essence it will do is change our mindset of going into an away game desperately trying to maintain the clean sheet.
We would approach it from a more attacking and, quite honestly, positive view and I think it would genuinely help us to win more away games.