|and the sack, surely?|
So, as we recover from a predictably disappointing Christmas, we could still end up bottom of the Premiership when the bells ring in the New Year. It’ s fair to say that we are in REAL trouble and need to have a rethink about what’s actually wrong – are we just misfiring or do we need to ask whether we are not actually good enough? All the talk about Andy Carroll has tended to distract from the fact that we have not really played well for any sustained period all year. Moreover, as we await the return of the saviour, it’s probably worth noting that he scores a colossal seven goals last season. Although the hirsute one is back in training, Big Sam is notoriously conservative about playing players who are short of match fitness and in reality if the Hammers have Carroll starting for the final ten games it will be as good as it gets.
The departure of James Collins against Arsenal was a frightening moment as without Winston Reid we are really down to the bare bones in central defence. George McCartney did a decent shift as fill in alongside James Tomkins but who amongst the West Ham faithful really believed we could hold out against a forceful Gooners attack after we managed to steal the lead. Moreover, thinking back to the Pre-season period – who would have ever predicted that we would be playing McCartney-Tomkins as our central defenders, with Matt Taylor in a crucial midfield berth and Carlton Cole as our main striking threat?
It’s good to know that the Davids intend to splash cash in January as the signs are that this squad may not have the cutting edge required to win enough games to stay up. It usually requires ten victories and at a mere three wins to date, we are well short of that figure at almost the half way mark of the season. The next two matches against West Brom and Fulham are now crucial and West Ham really need to put in two decent performances and win at least one of the games.
Perhaps a more worrying possibility that has currency amongst many Hammers faithful is that Allardyce’s tactical limitations have been rumbled by opposing teams. It’s easy to attack against a side who don’t score goals against you and it’s hard to see beyond the recurring statistics of 40% and less possession during games. A midfield with Noble, Morrison and Cole in it should be able to hold on to the ball much more than these figures suggest.
On the plus side – there are plenty of struggling sides down at the bottom half of the table who we would expect to compete well against as the season really kicks off and especially when Reid, Downing and Carroll return and with possible reinforcements (whatever happened to all that guff about salary caps and avoiding fines for excessive spending?).
A final thought – how many of yesterday’s side will survive as far as the Olympic Stadium? We reckon Noble and Tomkins with the rest moving on through retirement or natural justice.