It’s fair to say West Ham United enjoyed a fantastic start to the season; sitting firmly in the top four at Christmas for the first time in their history, finally playing football deemed entertaining enough for the fans to cut manager Sam Allardyce some slack. In the Summer, a complete overhaul of the squad was conducted and the Hammers made some top quality additions to the team, including French Ligue 2 top scorer Diafra Sakho, the highly promising Ipswich Town left-back Aaron Cresswell and Ecuadorian 2014 World Cup star Enner Valencia.
The sheer quality of the new additions made West Ham look totally like a new team. Attacking football was not only being encouraged but more importantly being played and the ‘hoof ball’ tag looked like it was finally un-attaching itself from the squad with an average of two to three goals being scored each game. All things considered, things were finally starting to look rosy for The Hammers, and even some fans were so hypnotised, mesmorised and taken in by such positive play and results that a European place was being spoken about among the fan base.
So how have the mighty fallen?
With just one league victory registered since 20th December, West Ham have slumped into a rut that has seen only one victory and ten goals in as many league games, in all honesty the form of a relegation threatened side. The team has arguably become somewhat predictable, the tactics which shown so much early promise have become simple enough to play against for the opposing team and Big Sam Allardyce’s ‘lump it to Andy Carroll’ approach has continued, despite the Englishman’s injury and subsequent absence from the starting XI.
Kevin Nolan’s on/off involvement with the starting XI has significantly interrupted the shape and attacking approach of the team, whilst Stewart Downing’s flourishing form at the start of the season has visibly fizzled out and as many had predicted, Downing has now returned to the average, predictable player we recall from the 2013/14 season. And not forgetting the out of sorts, out of form and want away contract rebel Winston Reid, who has been drafted back into a central-defensive role which previously had secured several clean sheets and tidy performances from a successful pairing of James Tomkins and James Collins.
However, the main reason for West Ham’s change in fortunes is loan signing, FC Barcelona midfielder Alex Song. Alex Song arrived on a season long loan deal in the Summer, leaving all West Ham United fans, well actually, all football fans shocked and amazed as to how The Hammers had acquired his services. The Cameroon International started brightly and hit the ground running, controlling the midfield, puling the strings in the big games against the likes of Man City and Liverpool and the man was deemed a genius in the eyes of the West Ham faithful.
Since Christmas however, Alex Song really has gone missing. The once sharp, intelligent, reader of the game has turned into a sloppy, lazy, thoughtless player. He continues to lose the ball more than any other player, misplaces numerous passes which he was seemingly completing with ease a few months back, and takes far too long on the ball, running around in circles and losing possession. Alex Song’s drop in form is a huge part of West Ham’s drop in form, and Song’s performances really have been out of tune of late.
A huge change is needed from now until the end of the season if West Ham United want to achieve a top eight finish, but with games against Chelsea and Arsenal coming up soon, the wait may be even longer for a vital rich vain of form to arrive.
Article written by: @WestHam_Central