Football Season Review

№13: West Ham United

West Ham will be playing Premier League football again next season but there is little else positive to be taken out from the campaign as a whole. Sam Allardyce did an excellent job in the first season since promotion and the fans were now hoping for a challenge for the top-half of the table. The transfer activity was overall limited with Andy Carroll easily the club’s biggest signing of the summer. Yet, the big striker, so key to the team’s overall approach, failed to play any football in the first five months of the season and that proved to have a huge impact on the entire team. The opening-day win over Cardiff was followed by a rather lengthy drought in terms of results as the Hammers picked just a single point in their next five league games, failing to score in all but one of them. A surprising and highly enjoyable 3:0 win at Tottenham lifted the mood after that but the team remained one-dimensional, lacking presence in attack and overall way too predictable. The wins remained too much of a rarity and the side actually claimed just two league victories in a run of 19 games between the opening day of the season and mid-January. By then, the pressure on Allardyce was growing exponentially as the Hammers suffered shameful FA Cup exit at the hands of Nottingham Forest, by 5:0, and then a 6:0 hammering at the hands of Manchester City in the League Cup semi-final. The win at Cardiff, that coincided with the return of Carroll to action, proved the biggest one of the season as it stopped the rot and restored the confidence among the players. West Ham went on a very good run of form after that as they held Chelsea to a shock draw at the Bridge and also claimed four wins in a row after that. That purple patch in February proved the saving grace of the Hammers as they moved way up the table and had enough to spare for the rest of the season as they managed to beat the drop. There was another decline in results from March onwards and the team actually lost seven games out of nine before a 2:0 win over Tottenham on the penultimate round of games finally sealed their status in the league. It was not all plain sailing but the job was done at the end, something that did not seem to be on the cards in these difficult days in January. Allardyce has faced some real discontent among the fans though due to the poor quality of football played and will be expected to deliver top-half finish and more entertainment next year.

Player of the Season: James Tomkins