Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Comfortable safety for West Ham

Despite not being the most popular man at times at Upton Park, Sam Allardyce guided West Ham to promotion at the first attempt ensuring the quickest of returns to the Premier League. A very positive end to the transfer window saw 'Big Sam' bring in two impressive loan additions in the shape of Yossi Benayoun as well as pulling of a transfer coup in the form of Andy Carroll.

Carroll had an impressive West Ham debut before injury brought it to a premature end

A good start to the season ensures that West Ham sit comfortably in the top half of the Premier League. Two wins at Upton Park have proven they'll be a hard nut to crack at home, which is imperative if they are to avoid being part of the relegation mix come the end of the season. 

The addition of Carroll hasn't done the belief Allardyce's side playing 'long ball football' any favours; however they do have some flair players in the form of Ricardo Vaz Te and the returning Benayoun, and these two could be the difference in the tight games.

I worry about them defensively as in their previous two Premier League campaigns they've conceded a lot of goals. Under Allardyce they'll be more solid then both Avram Grant and Gianfranco Zola, and in James Tomkins they potentially have a world-class centre half; however if they defend half as poorly as they did away to Swansea, then the Hammers will concede more then they score. 

Key player - Kevin Nolan. Having previously worked under Allardyce at Bolton and Newcastle, bringing Nolan to a then Championship side was a brilliant move for West Ham. Just three games into the new campaign and Nolan has proven his worth to the team with two goals, including the winner on their return to the big time against Aston Villa. A goal scoring midfielder is key as it takes the pressure of the centre forwards, and Nolan is one of the best in the business at doing exactly that. 

Two goals in three games already for Nolan

Prediction - 15th.
I don't think the Hammers will be in a relegation fight this year and 15th may even be a tad harsh as they've started the campaign well; however they don't have enough about them to make the top 10. It might not be pretty at times but under 'Big Sam' it'll be effective in ensuring they won't be in a dog fight.

View from a fan - Tommy Wathen

What would be a good year?
For most Hammers fans the general expectation is to stay above the dreaded relegation zone, but for me that wouldn't be enough. I would like to think we have the ability to finish at least 14th, but we'd need some big performances for that to happen. It would also be nice to see the players give everything and the fans get behind the team which didn't happen all last season, which really angered me.

What would be a nightmare season?
Plain and simply relegation! 

Do you have the right man in charge?
People have their own opinions on Sam Allardyce and there is the tag that we play 'long ball football which isn't the West Ham way', but to perfectly honest if we pass the ball three million times before scoring like Spain, or if the goalkeeper kicks it long onto the centre forward's head and into the net, as long as the goals are there and the points are being earned. I'm very happy that we have Sam as our manager going into the Premier League, there is a lot worse out there and Sam has experience in the Premier League. I have full confidence in him.

Who would you have like to have seen arrive at Upton Park in the previous transfer window?
Firstly I would have loved to have seen Carlos Tevez return, which I still hope will happen. I prefer a hardworking team player joining the team rather then a selfish superstar. One player I wished we had signed was Jermaine Defoe. I know the majority of the Hammers fans wouldn't agree with me but you only have to watch him play to realise just how good he is. West Ham have not had a 20 goals a season striker for as long as I can remember, and he is exactly that!

Who should we look out for this year?
I think the most interesting area to look out for next season would be the youth players that are coming through. During the season I hope some of the youngsters get to show what they've got, whether it's too early or not is another question. Ricardo Vaz Te may also be an interesting asset this year. He had a fantastic second half to the season with us last year, and for a player that has been away from the Premier League for many years now, it will be a surprise  for all the Premier League defenders when they have the tricky Portuguese attacker running at them. 

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