All right, it’s official — we are now in trouble! A season that started with the belief that we had an impressive squad that would be boosted by the imminent return of Andy Carroll and the trade in of misfiring Maiga for a new back up striker suddenly went all Pete Tong. We are still awaiting Carroll’s return and are still having to watch poor Maiga’s hapless efforts. The lad just needs a new start elsewhere and as soon as possible for his and West Ham’s sakes.
And then the loss of our best player in Winston Reid has quickly been followed by a string of nervous defensive performances. The Liverpool defeat in itself is hardly shock as we haven’t performed there for 50 years but the continued inability to create any clear cut chances and now our growing defensive vulnerability are really concerning. But for James Collins’ efforts of late we would have endured some embarrassing drubbings. The defence is simply absorbing too much continued pressure as we lack an outlet to give the back four a break!
he back four a break! Up front, Big Sam needs to recognise the difference between clear shots on goal and the half chances that messy set pieces create. For the latter we get scuffed efforts like Maiga’s remarkable miss when the score was 2-1 last weekend, whilst proper chances allow the attacker to pick their spot and have a much higher success rate. Our shots on target ratios tell their own story.
And what on earth is wrong with Carlton Cole? The persistent musings about his fitness are clearly tripe at this stage as he has been back in the fold for months. It’s time to let the big man have his go at it. We really should have given him the starting spot after his goal against Fulham as ‘our’ Carlton is a confidence player. Perhaps most confusing element in all this is the fact that we have young Elliot Lee scoring for fun in the ‘development’ squad who is then sent out on loan?
The lad differs from the existing ‘first’ team strikers in respect of his obvious ability to find the net. Given the nonsense that we have witnessed up front so far this season, it seems strange that we haven’t been able to at least give him a little run in the first team squad. And so to Captain Kevin Nolan.
We haven’t been among those who have carped about his lack of mobility, speed or passing accuracy but that was when he was contributing goals. In truth, Nolan is still getting lots of chances but seems to have replaced his shooting boots with one of those bent rifles you find at the funfair. One suspects that his red card dismissal and three match ban will come as a relief to all involved, including Big Sam who has lacked the courage to do the obvious and ‘rest’ him. Hammers fans will look forward to a midfield that has consistent levels of mobility and distribution — you are only as strong as your weakest link.
So, December looks like being a cruel month. Two defeats already and Man United and Arsenal to come. The home matches against West Brom and Sunderland will be crucial to avoiding being bottom as we hit the new year. The old adage is that you need ten wins per season to stay up. We are a long way short of that and worryingly, are not picking up the usual share of draws that you’d expect from an Allardycepoliced defence.
Bland in attack and incompetent at the back — we are the worst of both worlds right now. To finish on a positive note; Morrison gets better and better, Downing has looked excellent, Carroll should be back for the New year as will Reid. The January window will provide an opportunity to dispense with Maiga and the other ‘strikers’ who seem to have been brought in for optics rather than to actually play. And, of course, to invest in proper back up for Andy Carroll.