Strength in depth: The “striker crisis” and the early outlook

There has been much talk of the Hammers striker shortage of late, although this wasn't evidenced by our 3-0 mauling of Spurs!

There has been much talk of the Hammers striker shortage of late, although this wasn’t evidenced by our 3-0 mauling of Spurs! It doesn’t detract, however, from the fact that we are in a state of some depravity when it comes to attacking options. Some shrewd tactical changes proved the crucial difference between fighting out a draw against a very possession-heavy Tottenham and getting a desperately needed win. It also helped that Ravel ghosted past two of the best defenders in the division like they were a pair of coats hanging in a hallway.

Gloating and celebrating aside — which we seldom have the opportunity to do — there is a definite need to strengthen the more advanced positions on the pitch. The notable absence of Andy Carroll at this stage of the season has left a gap that we do not have the current capacity to fill in the interim. Having said that, there is massive potential across what I see as a capable midfield to provide cover until Carroll returns from his injury misery

He will no doubt come back more hungry and determined than ever; having signing for a club which has allowed him to adapt and play in a favoured role (when fit) under a manager who has total belief in his ability. Nolan, Noble, Diame, Joe Cole, Downing — all players with more than enough in their arsenals to both assist and supply goals. Even our defenders are in on the act. We are a tall, physical side shaped the image of Big Sam’s teams gone by. These characteristics will, I believe, ensure that we remain a Premier League side come May. However anomalous Sunday’s result was it was an important one.

It silenced the regular booboys and quashed early fears among the sceptics. It also indicated a positive and attacking intent from Big Sam, and even demonstrated the quality of football we are capable of playing when we are set up in the right way. We have a squad that is gelling well considering the amount of new faces we have seen introduced to it.

We may have had some questionable results and some plain bad luck, but not one single fan could say that the team doesn’t want to win every game. If anything we have so far been punished for being too eager. Case in point; Leighton Baines gratefully picking out two unquestionably worldclass free kicks on the back of adrenaline fuelled and illpositioned challenges.

But what I think has been one of the most noticeable features of our opening seven games has been a better attitude when it comes to trying to close games out. Granted, there have been some iffy looking results (losses against Hull and Stoke being the proverbial sore thumbs), but an overall dissatisfaction at letting fixtures slip through the net has paid some dividends.

Eight points from seven isn’t all too bad a return, and being five points away from fifth place doesn’t look particularly terrible. I think the season always begins at Christmas for any club outside the top-six, so this is where the real test will be. A returning Carroll and perhaps some decent loan signings will give us the momentum and fire power we need to finish strongly.

But this is all elementary in the meantime. Putting a couple of good cup runs together will be important in keeping our squad fit and will also give the fans some additional applause fodder. It will also be a welcome reward for two seasons of solid squad building; as well as being the perfect mantelpiece decorations at the Olympic Stadium should we bring home the bacon. Our younger players like Leo Chambers (pictured) are looking like finding their feet and hopefully this will not change.

We have truly unlocked a gem in Ravel Morrison and long may it continue for both his sake and the club’s. Winston Reid has developed into a top class defender next to Collins and Tomkins, with the latter displaying his undying love for the badge and sheer passion to cement his position. Sam has got the side playing for both him and for each other. If this is maintained, the fans will not have many complaints to make.

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