From Alex to Zarate, the Irons’ season has been a weird ride

Emily Pulham looks back over West Ham’s campaign’s twists and turns

A is for Alex Song. It was big news to bring in loan signing Alex Song from Barcelona. He’s brought a flare and sense of competency to the team, but since his retirement from international football, he seemed to be missing some of the spark he had when he arrived – leaving a tough question in the air of whether or not West Ham should offer him a permanent contract.

B is for Bristol City The Robins, with Senegal, were in the running to be the new Sheffield United by complaining about West Ham fielding Diafra Sakho in the FA Cup game whilst he was too injured to play for his country in AFCON. While West Ham certainly didn’t violate the FA Cup rules, FIFA did adjudge that we owed Senegal compensation for not letting them play Sakho – and fortunately, the fine was less than the amount of money we won by advancing to the next round. Money well spent, in my opinion.

C is for Cresswell. New signing Aaron Cresswell has been an incredible purchase for the Hammers. Since joining from Ipswich, he’s played more minutes in the Premier League this season than any other left-back. In fact; he hasn’t missed a minute of the action. He was also named Hammer of the Year. Wonderful stuff.

D is for Diafra Sakho. Diafra scored 12 goals in all competitions. He’s been such a valuable asset to the Hammers, and an incredible piece of business for the club given he cost us a bargain £3.5 million.

E is for Everton. One team we’ve struggled against in recent years has been Ever ton – but this year, we beat them in one of the greatest cup games I’ve ever had the pleasure to attend. Two 90-minute games couldn’t dictate a clear winner; nor could extra time – then, Adrian threw his gloves off and scored a penalty which finally, finally, let the Hammers notch up a crucial cup win over Everton. The atmosphere in the ground when that went in is something I hope I never forget.

F is for £15 million. That’s the purchase price of the injury-prone Andy Carroll. After a lengthy stay on the sidelines, Andy Carroll finally returned to the squad only to be injured against Southampton and again have his season ended. It poses the question of whether or not he’s been worth the money we spent – and whether or not he can still make good on his potential.

G is for Gaffer. There was constant uncertainty around our Gaffer’s job. Sam Allardyce was constantly dogged by rumours that he’d be sacked/leave at the end of the season / be eaten by a crocodile etc before it was eventually announced that he would be replaced with Slaven Bilic.

H is for Hodgson. West Ham are almost certainly the least favourite team of England manager Roy Hodgson. Yet another season has gone by in which a team filled with Englishmen has been ignored for international call-ups. Of our players, only Stewart Downing was given a chance this year – a chance which was blighted by injury – and I’m quite sure Hodgson won’t be offering him another one.

I is for injuries. yet again it’s been another season which has been heavily affected by injury. West Ham started the season so strongly, but once injuries began to kick in, we slowly began our descent down the table. We’ve got a good team, but we don’t have enough strong options – particularly with our centre backs – to allow for full cover when injuries occur.

J is for Jenkinson. The England youngster has been a breath of fresh air along with Cresswell in the West Ham defence, and of all of our loan signings, this is one I think we’d benefit most from keeping.

K is for keeper. One player who has consistently performed is our ‘keeper, Adrian. Apart from his little blip against Southampton, Adrian’s done extremely well this season to keep West Ham’s hope and dreams alive. That he is very committed to the fans is also very appreciated.

L is for last minute. That’s when we normally let our guard down and allow other teams to score against us. We’ve had so many tough games that we’ve very nearly won – Manchester United, Spurs – only to have them pull one back in the dying seconds. This has to be tightened up next year. Or now, really.

M is for Marriner. The competition for worst refereeing display is tight this season, but Andre Marriner might just win the crown for his absolutely appalling lack of neutrality whilst we played Chelsea at Upton Park. A different ref would absolutely have provided a different outcome – and I’m still a bit bitter.

N is for Nolan. Kevin Nolan still plays for us. He is still captain. We’re still not sure about him.

O is for Olympics. The Olympic Stadium move has been a constant topic of conversation this season – and our plans for moving are all coming into focus now. Fans are now starting to be able to choose their new seats, and deposits for our final season have been requested – months earlier than usual. Bah Humbug.

P is for Pele. Our very own Ginger Pele, James Collins, that is. The man often gets accused of playing hoofball, but he’s been so valuable to the cause this year. His willingness to throw himself in front of shots and crosses has saved us over and over again. His contract is up next summer, and I’d love for him to sign an extension.

Q is for quota. Diafra Sakho seems like a mild-mannered man, but he had much to say about a proposed quota on foreign players playing in the Premier League in order to boost English hopes in foreign tournaments. However, Sakho argued that many countries with large amounts of foreign league players regularly win tournaments, and that a ban on valuable imports would be a massive loss for both the league and the foreign players.

R is for rollercoaster. We scaled to incredible heights early on, and then just like our dreams, we faded and died – a bit. European football though means we have improved on last year considerably.

S is for Sakho. Yes he gets two letters in this A-Z. He’s been that good. I love him.

T is for Tombides. An important part of our season is continuing to acknowledge our brave player Dylan Tombides who lost his life to cancer last year. His family have launched the DT38 Foundation to raise awareness and education of testicular cancer, and I encourage the club to continue to support this foundation as we move towards our new stadium.

U is for Upton Park. It is a place which now has the hands of time firmly held over it. We are now heading into the nostalgia fest that is our last season at the Boleyn Ground—expect the tears to be freely flowing come May 2016.

V is for Valencia. Enner Valencia might make a dangerous cup of tea, but fortunately for West Ham, he also looks dangerous when facing opponents. The Ecuadorian’s performances haven’t been that consistent, but when he’s on form he’s a force to be reckoned with. Another top buy.

W is for West Brom. The Baggies beat us 4-0 on Valentine’s Day was possibly the most disappointing result this season. West Ham had potential to go all the way in the FA Cup this year, but instead a terrible and completely disheartened performance dumped us out of the competition.

X is (very loosely) for expert In this case, Teddy Sheringham. Sheringham was brought in this season to be a part time attacking coach, and judging by the amount of league goals we’ve scored (41) and the amount of players who’ve gotten on the score sheet (13), he’s not done a bad job.

Y is for youth team. hich hasn’t churned out much since Mark Noble and James Tomkins came up through the ranks. But the tides may be about to turn as West Ham have elevated a few promising youngsters through their ranks – Reeces Oxford and Burke, and now 18 year old centre-back Emmanuel Onariase has signed his first professional contract.

Z is for Zarate. Mauro Zarate is a player who, in the theme of finishing, may have already finished his career at Upton Park. Mauro Zarate was signed this summer with high hopes – but after a series of public complaints about his playing time, he was shipped out to QPR where he barely played amidst concerns that he is not match fit. Hopefully he’ll enjoy the new manager more.

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