My overriding memory of the last Premier League fixture at Upton Park is the crowd bellowing out: ‘Andy Carroll, we want you to stay!’ Jeremy Nicholas (rather embarrassingly) asked the fans to get behind the cause to keep Andy but in truth it was not needed. It seemed every supporter was desperate for the big man to put pen to paper on a permanent deal.
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There is great irony in the fact that the chant desperately aiming to persuade Carroll to remain at West Ham was in the same tune as the dreaded ‘we play on the floor’ drone which was so commonly sung by those disgruntled with Sam Allardyce.
Allardyce must be left scratching his head when fickle supporters express displeasure with his style of football, yet sing the praises of the forward who epitomises his tactics. The fact is; if you’re a fan of Andy Carroll then you are inevitably a fan of Sam Allardyce.
If Allardyce and Kevin Nolan weren’t at the club, a pairing who a section of supporters take issue with, then the England international forward would not be at West Ham United. It is as simple as that.
I think it was obvious that Carroll was left unfulfilled by his time at Liverpool and would’ve liked to have proved doubters wrong. But in a World Cup year, he made the correct decision to join a club with whom he is already settled, who will base their team around him and, vitally, who will play a style of football to suit him perfectly.
Personally I have no problem with Allardyce’s style. It is, of course, direct at times, but with an asset like Carroll it would be foolish to not to utilise his aerial presence.
We should be proud to be one of few clubs preserving the dying breed of the old-fashioned English centre forward rather than internationalising ourselves like everyone else in an effort to become yet another cheap imitation of Barcelona.
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With the signing of another England international in Stewart Downing secured, we can now look forward to the prospect of two top established wingers supplying the delivery to our number nine. Surely we don’t have to be ashamed of having an appreciation of that?
I am quite surprised at the amount of supporters who aren’t happy with the Downing signing. The wide-man has been to a World Cup with England and undoubtedly we would’ve all loved to have snapped him up during his time at Middlesbrough and Aston Villa. Two average years does not mean he will not return to great form.
Unsurprisingly there was no such disapproval at the signing of Joe Cole. Cole was arguably a much poorer signing than Downing – he does not really fit into our current tactics, is older and was extremely injury-prone and out-of-form when we signed him.
Understandably the affection and nostalgia surrounding Cole provoked a reaction of sheer delight but, regardless of personal attachments and feelings, Downing will be a far more useful player to us than Cole this season.
Another fresh player in the squad is Ravel Morrison. Although he joined some time ago, his lack of action in a West Ham shirt and high appraisal gives him the intrigue and excitement of a big new signing.
Six goals in pre-season could show that Morrison is finally ready to fulfil the potential which was suggested when Sir Alex Ferguson said he was one of the best players he had ever seen. I am dubious to trust Morrison with his track-record and attitude problem, but he could be very useful if given the chance.
Apparently Allardyce has rejected several loan offers, including one from Birmingham City, who he was on loan with last year, and so it seems Morrison is finally ready to step into the first-team and prove whether he can make it at the highest level.
Morrison looks to be a fantastic player, and his skill was undeniable at the Pacos de Ferreira home friendly, but we can’t place too much responsibility on the shoulders of a young man who has proved he is liable to get a rush of blood to the head at any moment.
It is interesting that all the players mentioned in this article thus far are English. The English core at West Ham United is undeniably one of the strongest in the league now and something I’m sure all fans will welcome.
Of course it is great to have the exotic foreigner, we have certainly fallen for a few of them over recent years with the likes of Paolo Di Canio and Carlos Tevez, but as an English fan I think it definitely gives you a greater intimacy with the squad when they are of the same nationality.
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The sense that they understand the club and its culture is invaluable and something I think will help drive us forward this season to an improved Premiership position and hopefully an impressive cup run.
And, as mentioned, it is a World Cup year. Who’s to say we won’t have another Three Lions in Brazil in the summer? Exciting times are ahead, I hope the persistent moaners can recognise that and embrace the direction we are moving in.
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