They say that the second album is always the trickiest, sequels never live up to the original and that once you’ve gone, you should never go back. Try telling that to Julian Dicks and Tony Cottee. Both outstanding players who after brief forays at opposite sides of Stanley Park, came back to Upton Park and continued in the same rich veins of form as their earlier careers.
However, players with such natural ability as Frank McAvennie and Joe Cole have disappointed second time round, and far from the rave reviews in their initial West Ham careers, have achieved nothing more than a nostalgic support from fans based upon their popularity. Which leads me on to the recent reports that Jermain Defoe may well be on our radar during January.
Hardly a popular figure at West Ham due to his reported attempts to force through a move within 24 hours of our 2003 relegation coupled with the red cards and perceived lack of effort before his move to Tottenham Hotspur, rumours are rife that he may well be joining for a second spell at the Boleyn. One, judging by people’s reaction to the news on Twitter, will be met with a fair amount of hostility
But does he deserve the flack? Let us not forget that he scored 29 goals in 93 games, a ratio of near enough 1 in 3 and included 15 in the 22 games he featured in during our Championship stint. Hence why I use the term “perceived lack of effort”. All of this, as a young man – he was 20 years of age at the time of our relegation.
Whilst youth should never be used as an excuse for a lack of common sense, it is clear that in asking for a transfer, he was badly advised, and this seems to be the reason why many West Ham fans – myself included – will never forgive him.
But is it time to forget? Defoe seems to have been on the charm offensive recently, declaring his love for the club, and stating how leaving us was a mistake. He clearly feels he has unfinished business with us, and seems to be paving a way for a return. This admission in itself seems to me to set him aside form the likes of Paul Ince and particularly Frank Lampard.
There will be a number of fans who will vehemently oppose his return, but could it be the catalyst our season needs. Andy Carroll is still struggling with injury. He’s said to be nearing a return to full training, but as we saw last time – anything can happen.
Our 4-6-0 formation works well away from home, but at Upton Park is a testament to how bad our current striking options are Maiga is no more a Premier League striker than he is a lingerie model, Petric was a signing based on nothing more than panic following the fall out of Carroll’s set back, and as honest and hard working as Carlton Cole is – he’s a good back up option and not much else.
Jermain Defoe would offer us a different dynamic. He is a six yard box poacher and a lone man leading the line all in one. No matter how we chose to play, he would fit into our system. Just imagine the ways in which he and Morrison would link up with each other?
Above all though – he is a natural goalscorer. 218 goals in 526 senior games is roughly a goal every two and a half games. I’d take that right now – wouldn’t you? On top of that, he’ll be keen to add to his 19 goals in 54 caps at the World Cup this summer.