Start to the season
I’m sure, like me, you’re all pretty surprised at the relatively poor start the Hammers have made to this Premier League campaign.
The fixture list last season was very similar, as in we had a ‘kind’ run of opening fixtures until we had to play the ‘big boys’. However, easier starts are all well and good if you get the points on the board before you play, like we do now, the likes of Tottenham Hotspur (away), Manchester City (home) and then Swansea City (away).
You’d expect us to only get one or two points out of those games and that could, realistically, see us in the relegation zone.
When all is said and done though, being a Hammer is all about the ‘thrills’ as much as the ‘spills’ so knowing us we will take maximum points!
Don’t for a minute think that Big Sam is happy with the results because he’s not and he fully accepts that the fans have every right to be disappointed and angry.
Like all situations though, you have to look at it on its own individual merit. Right up until four or so games ago Sam was doing a good job and everything that was required of him.
You also need to look at the performances and it has to be said the defence has been brilliant and looked solid (I know we conceded three against Everton but those Leighton Baines free-kicks were pretty special). The issue is with us not scoring, and again, I’m not that worried because we are creating chances and not shipping in the goals, so it’s just a matter of time before everything falls into place.
Basically, I guess what I’m saying is, don’t hit the panic button…yet.
Modibo Maiga and Carlton Cole
Firstly, as I’m sure you could have worked out, I’m delighted Carlton is re-joining the club and I think, while Andy Carroll is out, if we can get Carlton back to fitness we will see a better end product up-top because Cole is one of the best at holding up the play and bringing others into the game.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen as much of the Hammers as I would have liked to this season but the couple of games I have seen, Modibo Maiga hasn’t impressed.
Now, as a former striker who went through a goal drought or two, the most important thing is that you never stop trying and, if anything, you try harder, you show greater desire and work your socks off but I just haven’t seen that effort from Maiga.
Maiga has had a good run in the side but now, with Petric and Cole coming into the situation, I think his time could soon be up.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know we need to change our formation due to Andy’s injury.
I know we haven’t done it before but I’ve always been a fan of 3-5-2 and I think having two upfront is paramount but another formation I’d be keen to see would be 4-1-3-2.
You keep the defence that has performed well and then have Mark Noble shielding them and then a trio of Matt Jarvis, Joe Cole and Stewart Downing excites me with Kevin Nolan and Ravel Morrison up-top.
Another option I’d like to see used, while goals are hard to come by, is Elliot Lee. I’m a huge fan of Elliot’s but if I put myself in our current formation I know I’d struggle as being the ‘big man’ just wasn’t part of my game and neither is it Elliot’s but what have we got to lose?!
The worst injury I suffered was my knee-cartilage, which kept me out for three months but nowadays they’d probably have you up and running within a week!
Having Andy injured is a massive blow for Sam, having spent the majority of his budget on him, it is also a massive blow for the fans who want to see their star striker, it is also a massive blow for the players as having a player of Andy’s calibre around gives them a lift. However, the point people seem to be missing is that it is a massive blow to Andy.
It has been hard for him to deal with just getting back to fitness and then injuring himself again. It’s hard to remain positive; it is frustrating watching the team struggle without being able to do anything about it.
One final thing, before I sign-off, I’m off to the game on Sunday and bear in mind I went to several games last season and didn’t see us win…sorry in advance!
Tony Cottee was talking to Forever West Ham’s Editor
Tony’s book ‘West Ham: The Inside Story’ is out NOW and you can order a SIGNED copy from www.ex-hammers.com