West Ham could be up the creek without ‘panic signing’ Dawson

Most of us groaned when we signed the defender but he’s proved us all wrong

29.03.14 - WBA vs Cardiff City - Barclays Premier League - Craig Bellamy of Cardiff fires in a shot past WBA's Craig Dawson. (c) Huw Evans Agency

When Craig Dawson signed for us last summer, there was a sense of despair. 

We had trodden this path before; Signing an ageing centre back with a handful of relegations on his CV – it was bound to fail, right?

Wrong. The former West Brom and Watford defender has proved every doubter wrong, establishing himself as one of the most reliable players on the team and, by doing so, turning himself into something of a cult east end hero.

Dawson has brought experience, leadership, and a so desperately-needed voice to the Hammers backline. 

It comes as no surprise that the emergence of Dawson’s presence has enhanced the performances of Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna and Aaron Cresswell. Along with the ever-reliable Vlad Coufal, we have a defensive line to be reckoned with.

The 30-year-old England youth international quickly formed an understanding with Ogbonna. 

It helped us to a run of just one defeat in eight, which has propelled us into European contenders as we enter the twilight period of the Premier League season.

In all honesty, when Dawson joined the club, I was nonplussed. I thought he would act as adequate cover should we pick up any injuries.

I also thought he’d be a good experienced head around the place that would help the youngster learn from someone who has amassed a lot of Premier League minutes.

He has exceeded all my expectations and more; from the moment he accidentally kicked Che Adams’ head into outer space he won the hearts of the Hammers faithful.

Now his defensive qualities have people talking about him receiving an England call up. I think those calls are a little far-fetched but his displays do deserve recognition. 

Since coming into the side against Southampton, we have conceded just 10 goals in 11 games. 

We have faced the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester City, Everton and Aston Villa in that run. 

The former Rochdale man has also contributed a couple of goals as well along the way. 

He has really turned himself into someone who everyone was nervous about having a pre-agreed signing clause into someone everyone is clambering for us to sign now. 

That is really a testament to how he has performed in claret and blue.

David Moyes is known for being able to make a side defensively solid, and he has certainly crafted a team of defensive warriors this season.

A defence that puts their bodies on the line, never give up and are difficult to break down, just ask Pep Guardiola – whose side only just edged past us at the Etihad. 

This is a different West Ham United now, and it is the perfect base for long-term success.

Angelo Ogbonna is further establishing himself as one of the best defenders in the league and, despite missing a chunk of the season, is still a leading contender for Hammer of the Year. 

His positioning is phenomenal, and for someone in his thirties, his pace is surprisingly quick. 

A partnership of Dawson and Ogbonna has made us stronger against the aerial threat and has also made us one of the strongest sides on set-pieces both offensively and defensively.

When Ogbonna was forced off with an injury in the cup game against United, there were of course fears that our season could be derailed. 

But Issa Diop came into the side and we responded with back-to-back wins over Sheffield United and Tottenham, Diop featuring well in both games marshalled expertly by Dawson and Coufal.

With Ogbonna set to be back soon, we have a genuine chance of pushing for Europe thanks to this solid base that Moyes has built, and it is unlikely heroes like Dawson and Coufal, the two unspectacular signings of the summer that could be leading us to unheralded new heights.

It is a lesson to us all, sometimes it isn’t the shiny new superstars that we are linked with all summer long that can turn a season around.

It is about finding players who are the right fit for the club, and they more often than not make the real difference. All hail King Dawson.

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