Phil Parkes: Consistency is key if West Ham are to secure European football again

Teams are starting to get to play against us and put us under pressure

David Moyes (West Ham manager) at the EPL match West Ham United v Burnley, at the London Stadium, London, UK on 16th January, 2021. English Premier League matches are still being played behind closed doors because of the current COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, and government social distancing/lockdown restrictions.

Things can change so quickly in football so I don’t think now is the time for West Ham to pull the emergency cord on this season.

But I do understand the frustration of fans when it looked like we’d got over that bump in December and were starting to turn a corner, then we witnessed two defeats in a row.

The defeat against Manchester United was hard to take because if their goal had been up the other end, I think it would’ve been given offside.

I honestly do think refs bottle it when it comes to the big teams who always seem to get decisions in their favour.

We were so close to getting a positive result at Old Trafford. A result that would’ve been up there with the other results we’ve had this season against the so-called Big Six.

The defeat against Leeds, however, was really disappointing. I know they played well but I feel like we let them play well.

We have done so well this season to stop teams from playing. We were playing with pace and intensity and that stops the opposition from playing the game they want to play.

But teams are starting to get to play against us and put us under pressure and with the defence as it has been, the more we get put under pressure, the more holes that are appearing for teams to score goals. 

I know Zouma was back against Man United and played well but we’re not as defensively sound now as we were earlier in the season. 

I worry also that Antonio isn’t finding the net. No matter what he does, he hasn’t been getting the goals.

He’s had a few chances and missed but right now he needs goals, no matter how they go in, to boost his confidence again.

On the flip side, Jarrod Bowen has been playing out of his skin and hopefully that will continue.

We have done more than enough in the first half of the season to show what we can achieve, but we need to get back on track again soon.

We’ve got to make sure we get through this round of the FA Cup and hopefully we’ll get another favourable draw to get us into the quarter finals.

It will be great to do well in the FA Cup and have a good run at it this season after doing well in the League Cup and then coming up short against Spurs.

Speaking of the FA Cup, I can remember playing for Walsall aged 18 and it was my first time playing in the FA Cup.

We played four times against Brighton to progress, twice against Leyton Orient and then two games against Palace before we lost – eight games and we were knocked out in the third round.

Then I compare this cup run to the year we won the FA Cup at West Ham, which saw us only play eight games including replays.

We’ve also got European football to look forward to next month. With both these cup competitions and our league games, it is going to be a difficult period as the games will come thick and fast.

But it’s a good problem to have. It would, however, be good to get back the confidence we had before December.

We’ve got Watford, Leicester, Newcastle and Wolves coming up and they are games we can take something from as we’ve shown in the past two seasons.

But we do have to play well to get anything from these games. We need to avoid becoming too complacent.

And what is also concerning me is that we are slowly starting to slip back down the league and we have played more games than the terms below us. 

The last thing we need right now is to keep slipping down the league table and not getting the results. We know we are better than that.

Our trouble recently is that we’re just not consistent enough. We can play some wonderful football at times but we’re not getting the results consistently enough.

And as for challenging for the top four, in all honesty when you look at the bench of Man City and you compare it to ours, you can see we’ve been punching above our weight.

They have enough good quality players to make two first XIs who would be up the top end of the league. 

But we need all our top players and have them playing well to even compete against the likes of Man City. 

Don’t get me wrong we’ve deserved to be in that top four and challenging for it as long as we have been but we haven’t got the strength in the squad to have players come in and take over when injuries build up. That’s exactly what the big boys have.

Adding to the squad appears to have been a frustrating exercise for us last month with us being linked to so many players but none arriving.

To me, it seemed obvious we needed to strengthen a couple of departments before the transfer window opened but then as the window drew to a close, I was starting to worry we’d bring in someone out of desperation.

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