It might only be November but I’ve been in a similar situation as we’re in now when I was at Birmingham and West Ham and before you know it, it’ll be New Year’s Day and we could be rock bottom.
I’m not suggesting for a moment we hit the panic button but it’s really important we go on a bit of a run and get maximum points against Fulham, Palace and Sunderland which will give us a real boost in the run up to Christmas. I then hope the board will give Big Sam some money to spend on players in January. If he can bring in two or three experienced players then I think we will be all right but if he doesn’t get anyone, it is going to be a real struggle.
It goes without saying that we need a striker or two because even when Carroll starts playing again, he will get injured or be suspended for a game or two. I also think we need back-up for when Noble and Diame are injured and, being blunt, we probably need a new ‘keeper too.
The thing that really worries me at the moment is that we just don’t seem to have a plan B which has been embarrassingly evident in our recent games. Sure we went to Spurs and gave them a hammering by playing 4-6-0 but you can’t play that in every game and sadly that is exactly what Allardyce has done. I went to Carrow Road for the Norwich game with BBC London and when I arrived people were saying to me ‘he’s not playing a striker again’ and I honestly couldn’t believe it. Norwich got battered by Man City the week before so we really should have been looking to attack them.
Playing without a striker just sends out the wrong message and, just like the Villa game, I don’t think it was the right formation to play. We should have hammered them and it really annoyed me that the week after they get hit 7-0 we played without a striker.
Having said that we did really well in the first half. We were in complete control of the game and every time we had the ball it went through Mark Noble and it was great to watch. But Chris Hughton is a good manager and when things aren’t going right, he will change things around but at West Ham we just don’t have any other options. I think we all knew Hughton would make changes to get after West Ham and as soon as the second half started, I noticed someone on Mark Noble straight away and we are saw what happened in the second half.
Not having a striker up top just means you keep the pressure on your defence. In the Norwich game, Kevin Nolan was our main outlet but he is 31 now and has never really been that kind of forward. He was also on his own for a lot of the game and didn’t really get the back-up he needed. My other issue with that game was that the centre backs spent most of the game launching the ball forward and missing their man by 30 yards. You don’t expect players to be exact with their passes every time but to miss by so much time and time again was ridiculous.
There were also so many gaps at the back you could drive a double decker bus through. Time after time, there were 30 yards between Collins and Tomkins which was wrong and great teams will tear us apart – just like Chelsea proved last weekend, It’s all right when things are going well but when things are going wrong, like at the moment, we really need our senior players to step up but it’s just not happening at the moment and no-one is pointing fingers out on the pitch.
If I made a mistake then I would get a bollocking. Not in a nasty way but players like Alvin Martin, Tony Gale and even Rio Ferdinand would be like ‘what are you doing?’. For me, all of the above boils down to work rate and sadly there are a lot of players who are not working hard enough. If we had put in a good performance against Chelsea and came off with a defeat, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. If every player had also worked their socks off then the fans would have appreciated that but they didn’t, we got smashed and I think the fans were right to get on their backs
Looking ahead and the Fulham and Sunderland games are going to be tough as will our trip to Selhurst Park but if we can play like we did in the first half against Norwich and maintain it for the whole game, we’ll be fine. The biggest thing I’ll be looking for out of these games is work rate. We just don’t seem to want to close players down or want to compete. Against Norwich, I really can’t remember any tackles going in from our midfielders.
I honestly think between now and the New Year we need to take each game as it comes and put out the best available team to make sure we give ourselves the best possible chance of beating our opponents and that includes our League Cup quarter final against Spurs.
West Ham aren’t going to win the Premier League anytime soon so we have to go for the cup competitions and we really should be putting out our best team against Spurs. These guys train every day and should be as fit as a fiddle so they should easily be able to play two or three games a week – I used to.
It always grates me when managers come out of the dressing room after a game and say their players are tired – maybe these players should try working in a factory 10 hours a day for five days a week and then play football at the weekend. I’ve noticed more and more managers using this excuse over the past couple of seasons and saying their players play too many games but managers like Jon Lyle never said that. I would always rather play three games a week than work in a factory
Finally, I’ve read the stories about Jermian Defoe’s possible move back to West Ham. I know what people think about him and, for me, what he did to the club was wrong but I do like him as a player. He scores goals wherever he goes and that’s what we need. There is no point, however, us signing him if we are going to put him up front on his own. He needs someone like Andy Carroll up there with him to play off but if his goals keep us up then I’m all for him joining.
Demba Ba is another name that keeps popping up with a January move to West Ham. He did well when he was here before and he is not getting in the side at Chelsea so he could be a good loan signing for us. If we got Defoe too, I think they would make a brilliant partnership