The Hammer of the Year contenders

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AdrianAs the end of an indifferent season looms, many Hammers, including myself, will be intrigued to find out who us fans will choose as the winner of the Hammer of the Year.

The setting for this year’s awards is the historic Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair and I am sure many will agree that the winner of this year’s award, unlike previous year’s, is not particularly set in stone, as I for one cannot pinpoint a particular player who has consistently shone through amongst the rest.

Despite this, I have decided to argue the case for and against three of the likely contenders for this year’s prestigious award to hopefully come to a decision about who I believe is most deserving of it.

1) Mark Noble

Fans’ favourite Mark Noble has undoubtedly had yet another superb season, and like the vast majority of Hammers, I am astonished that he is yet to be capped for England, but we’ll save that debate for another time.

Born in Canning Town and now into his 14th year with West Ham, Noble has a history of winning the club’s main award having had it awarded to him for his displays in the 2011-12 promotion campaign, whilst also being named runner up twice.

His performances this season have been second to none 80% of the time, and Mark’s work rate, passing and ability to dictate the tempo of a game is faultless and for that he must be credited.

Despite all the plaudits that Noble has received this season, we must not ignore his tendencies to give away needless free-kicks on the edge of the box and his totting up of yellow cards. Jermaine Pennant’s free-kick that resulted in a 1-0 defeat was conceded by Noble, as was one of Leighton Baines’ in the 3-2 defeat at home to Everton. On the whole however, it can be said that Mark is undoubtedly the favourite to win the main award and I for one would be very pleased if he were to claim it after overall, a very impressive season which has seen him notch three goals and four assists of his own.

2) Adrian San Miguel

Still in his first season at the club, and having made just 15 Premier League appearances, Adrian has quickly established himself as somewhat a hero amongst the Hammers faithful.

Having joined the side from hometown club Real Betis in the summer, Adrian initially struggled to claim a first team place ahead of Jussi Jaaskelainen in Allardyce’s side during the first half of the season, and notably featured in League Cup ties against Cheltenham, Burnley, Cardiff, Spurs and Manchester City.

The ‘keeper waited patiently and was rewarded with his first league start away to Manchester United in December. Despite losing the game 3-1, the Spaniard has gone from strength to strength throughout the remainder of the season, consistently pulling off some crucial saves to keep us in games and keeping five clean sheets along the way.

His performance against Chelsea was his standout moment for me this season, denying Frank Lampard a certain goal and three points from six yards in the dying moments at Stamford Bridge. Many, including myself wait patiently for his famous post-match tweets praising the fans for their support, and despite possibly not being worthy of Hammer of the Year, I’d undoubtedly tip him for the ‘Signing of the Season’ award.

3) James Tomkins

Another home grown lad, James Tomkins I believe is in with a shout of winning the Hammer of the Year award for his performances this season.

Now in his 6th year as a senior at the club, the ever-loyal Tomkins has played a huge part in ensuring the Hammers’ Premier League status has been all but confirmed for another season.

Never one to back out of a header or challenge, Tomkins played a vital role in securing four straight clean sheets during January and February. Furthermore, despite heavy media scrutiny over an alleged assault of a police officer, Tomkins has continued to put in the committed performances that he has become so renowned for and we have become so used to seeing.

Personally I cannot see James Tomkins winning the club’s main award, however his performances and commitment must not be ignored and I for one would be particularly displeased if we were to let him go in the summer.

Many other first-team players have undoubtedly had a fine season in spells, but often lack the consistency needed to be called Hammer of the Year.

Putting his moments of ill-discipline aside, skipper Kevin Nolan has shown why Sam Allardyce has such faith in him, and his performances alongside Andy Carroll have often highlighted this. Despite this, his lacklustre performances when the big man is not in the side cannot be ignored.

Moving on to Andy Carroll, it is clear that the man does have quality, and it is such a shame that he hasn’t been able to regain fitness quicker as I am in no doubt that had he had a full 38 game season, he would be the clear favourite to win the award.

Stewart Downing has been surprisingly impressive for me this season, and is a prime example of a ‘confidence’ player who simply needs game time. His lack of assists and failure to score this season is a worry, however the signs are there and his ability to beat a defender both on their inside and outside is hugely valuable. I am sure that his second season with us will provide him with more minutes, confidence, and hopefully assists and goals of his own.

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