My chat with Alex Song earlier this season was one of the most interesting I’ve ever had at Chadwell Heath.
He’s one of the most enigmatic and self-assured characters I’ve ever met and was so enthusiastic about what can be achieved by this team that I went away with a real spring in my step. He said that when he first mentioned joining the club everybody questioned his sanity. He wasn’t discouraged.
He then had a chat with Javier Mascherano and his cousin Rigobert and both told him what a terrific club it is and how passionate the fans are. It made his choice to come to East London an easier one. He was extremely complimentary about Allardyce, who had persuaded him of the potential we have, with the move to the Olympic Stadium being another factor in his decision to sign on the dotted line. He was clearly proud to ‘be a part of the project’ and I took that as a good sign that, if we can have a decent season, it might encourage him to stay
I also got the impression that outside negativity really doesn’t affect his mindset and, although his clothes might be crazy, he knows exactly what he’s doing and why. We joked about leaving Barcelona for Newham but he was adamant that the quality of the players at West Ham was good enough to succeed.
He was pleasantly surprised with the standard at training, especially in Sakho, Valencia and Kouyate as they were virtually unknown to him. Nolan, Downing and Noble also got honourable mentions as he’d played against them in the past but he had the utmost respect for all of his new team mates. He was more concerned about his own form as he wasn’t match fit at the time and was eager to let me know he would soon show us fans what he is capable of. I think he’s doing that now. Allardyce says he’s a born leader. He has the strength and composure on the ball that we have sometimes lacked in years gone by and, as his performance against City demonstrated, he doesn’t get overwhelmed by big game pressure or big names.
Let’s face it, he’s been playing (well, mostly training) with the likes of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta up until recently! I think the bigger the game the better he’ll play. So yes, we’ve only got one Song, but what a Song it is.