Why change a winning team? That was the question asked by many Hammers fans during the excellent month of February.
This meant restricting the likes of Nocerino, Reid, Armero, Borriello, Joe Cole and Jack Collison to cameo appearances and while I appreciate it must have been frustrating for them, not many of them should hold grudges if the side are winning. March, however, hasn’t been too kind to us with away defeats at the tough grounds of Everton and Stoke. The Stoke game featured a few changes with some of those left on the bench in February getting a chance, Reid and Nocerino played starting roles and Cole and Armero appeared in the second half.
The result was not what the fans would have hoped for and that might be due to the change of personnel in the starting line up with the likes of Collins and Taylor dropped to the bench, both of whom were influential in our run of four straight wins and four clean sheets from five games before the trip to Goodison Park. Then comes the likes of Jussi Jääskeläinen and Jack Collison, who can’t buy an appearance.
Jussi has paid the price of last summer’s arrival from Real Betis in Adrían, and many Irons have been happy to see this change. That is not to say Jääskeläinen did anything wrong but at the ripe old age of 38, it’s time to look to the future. Much was also made of Joe Cole’s return to the Hammers last January.
A star performance in the FA Cup against Manchester United is the best we have seen from him since his return and it looks like he could be on his way come the summer transfer window. Another who looks like he might head out the door is Jack Collison, a player who has been on the fringes for years and is possibly still paying for that dreadful injury that saw him out for 14 months in 2010/11.
The arrivals from Serie A in Nocerino, Borriello and Armero are also unlikely to jump at the chance of signing permanent deals if they aren’t to feature for a full 90 minutes – that’s not a criticism of Allardyce, because the team were winning and grinding out results. This summer could see quite a few changes to the Hammers squad and though our Premier League safety is not assured, there is enough quality in the current team to get the club over the finish line of survival.
In my opinion, a clear out is on the cards with the Olympic Stadium looming. It will be a difficult job for Big Sam but one he must tackle head on and accomplish for the good of West Ham United and the terrific and faithful fans at the Boleyn Ground and over land and sea.