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Has West Ham's season been saved?

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Phil McNulty | 20:56 UK time, Saturday, 27 November 2010

Upton Park

Avram Grant smiled as he revealed West Ham United's "Save Our Season" game was actually a slick marketing ploy all along - not too hard to detect as it is managers who need rescuing in freezing late November rather than entire campaigns.

And if this was an elaborate, if transparent, piece of stage management by West Ham, Wigan Athletic were happy to go along with it by playing in the manner of hand-picked opposition.

If Grant, and Upton Park's worried powerbrokers David Gold and David Sullivan, had compiled a wish-list of teams they wanted to face on such a heavily-billed occasion, a weakened and woeful Wigan would have been very near the top.

Of course, it is a total nonsense to suggest West Ham's season - not to mention Grant's long-term tenure - has been secured by this 3-1 win, and if they had lost the manager might have had more difficulty passing off the powerful and ridiculously premature slogan as a mere marketing tool.

At least West Ham's fans, who do not actually need to be scared by catchphrases into giving superb support to their team, were able to file out along a freezing Green Street with a win to soothe the troubles that have engulfed them this season.

Whether this patchy performance was enough to convince them that the future is bright under Grant is another matter entirely. For now, however, the win was all. Season saved? Not likely. Season up and running? Not yet. Not by a long way.

Grant had his new right-hand man Wally Downes at his side, an animated and visible presence in the technical area, as West Ham recovered from 30 minutes of nervous tension to finally run out deserved winners.

Wally Downes and Avram GrantGrant (right, with new defensive coach Wally Downes) managed a rare smile as West Ham sealed victory. Photo: Getty

And in the stands, cheered more than anyone except perhaps the heroic Scott Parker, was Paolo di Canio, star guest in the Upton Park hospitality lounge named in his honour.

Di Canio has been linked with a return to West Ham in a somewhat unspecified coaching capacity, and he still knows how to play the gallery, celebrating goals from Valon Behrami, Victor Obinna and the indefatigable Parker with great gusto while clad in a claret and blue scarf.

In reality, if Di Canio was to return it would represent a risky, populist, cheerleading move as his track record of coaching sides of out of serious relegation struggles is, at a guess, nil. It was certainly not a notion Grant appeared keen to encourage.

Wigan, playing the passive role of willing victims to perfection, even conspired to squander their best opportunity of applying pressure to West Ham's fragile confidence and Upton Park's patience by inexplicably allowing subsitute Mauro Boselli to take a penalty only seconds after coming on.

The score was 2-0 and a Wigan goal would have played on east London's nerves, but Boselli was barely warmed up let alone ready to take a penalty, and it was to no-one's surprise that his wretched effort was blocked by Robert Green.

West Ham's supporters gratefully clutched the three points, but listening to them before, during and after the game confirmed that they will need to see a lot more than this isolated triumph before they truly believe in Grant or his regime.

The Israeli's position is seemingly safe after robust public support from vice-chairman Karren Brady, but no public utterances would have spared him the pressure had this game been lost. It would have been such an abject illustration of West Ham's current plight that it is unlikely Grant's position would have escaped scrutiny.

Assistant Zeljko Petrovic lost his job in midweek, which is rather like the ship's cat taking the blame as The Titanic sailed into the iceberg, and every loss would have turned the spotlight on to Grant even more harshly.

He revealed afterwards that one of the co-owners had congratulated him on the win, although he declined to revealed whether it was Gold or Sullivan.

When Grant needed a hero and a leader, he found one in Parker, whose approach has made him an idol at Upton Park. It was Parker who got the crowd into the mood of the occasion with a couple of crunching tackles and his goal was a well-deserved reward for his efforts.

Tottenham have been linked with the midfielder, and Harry Redknapp's right-hand man Joe Jordan was an interested observer here, but if West Ham and Grant are to both survive his sale is as close to unthinkable as it gets.

Goalkeeper Green also made crucial contributions, but there were still spells of real uncertainty even at 3-0 - far too many to suggest Grant and West Ham's board can now relax in the knowledge that the revival is under way.

A little like Roy Hodgson at Liverpool, Grant has not made any emotional connection with those who follow his team. This is hardly a pre-requisite, but it certainly means you are cut a little more slack when results have been so poor.

Grant needs a run of victories to forge that relationship, but there remain doubts about whether he has a gifted enough group of players to give him that luxury.

One man who felt bold enough to voice his complaints about the current plight at West Ham was Carlton Cole. He had a swift reward for his outspokeness - namely relegation to the bench and an Upton Park reception that was as frosty as the temperature when he finally emerged.

West Ham is a club any neutral would want to survive in the Premier League. Upton Park is an intoxicating experience and sits comfortably in the top-flight, but sentiment alone means nothing in a fight for survival and this is a squad that needs serious strengthening in January.

So the "Save Our Season" game was won and Grant swept out of Upton Park savouring the satisfaction of victory - but no-one will seriously believe anything or anyone has been saved by this rare win, least of all those brutal realists who follow West Ham.

You can follow me at twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me on Facebook.


Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Good Blog, although I think several of Cole's criticisms are entirely valid, I've seen them a couple times this season, and cannot help but agree with him on more than one point. Maybe progress would be better obtained through taking on feedback rather than punishing it.

  • Comment number 2.

    I expect both these clubs to go down, indeed my picks for the season were West Ham, Wigan and West Brom, the three clubs at the bottom after the first game. West Brom seem to have picked up a bit, and the only other team I could put money on would be Blackpool. Unfortunately in West Ham and Wigan I haven't seen the attacking flair that has so far kept the Baggies and Blackpool comfortably away from the relegation spots.

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm not a West Ham fan, but I'm glad you've finally blogged on a team outside the top 5. I'm sick and tired of your pandering to the masses of the richest clubs.

    Now do a blog on Boltons acheivement this season.

  • Comment number 4.

    West Ham's biggest problem has been the chopping and changing of managers. In truth, they generally have a good squad throughout and a good youth academy. They should be higher up the league.

    But as soon as a manager has a slump in results, they get sacked. I think Grant is actually a very good manager and the club should give him time to stamp his own authority on the West Ham team. I know he didn't do great with Portsmouth, but please, name me a manager who could.

  • Comment number 5.

    Good blog Phil. As a hammers fan, I find the result as a great relief. But, as you said this is only the beginning. Avram Grant has as much charisma as a dead cat and is one of the least inspiring managers I've ever seen. If Paulo Di Canio got a job in the coaching staff he would bring more passion and belief, as well as more attacking flair, which is something that is clearly lacking for West Ham and has been since Tevez left.

    The hammers have a decent midfield led by the ever-present Scott Parker and create some good build-up plays. But, they just lack the end product, which is something that frequently frustrates supporters. As for Carlton Cole, I don't rate him, and quite frankly he deserves to be on the bench. We should have sold him for £10 million 12 months ago and if we can get any sum like that in January he should go.

    The defence also consistently looks vulnerable, especially when we get into leads. Whenever West Ham gets a lead they seem to switch off, almost inviting the opposition to attack. Too many leads have been thrown away, leaving new defensive coach Wally Downes with much work to do.

    Finally a few questions to you Phil: Do you think that the Olympic Stadium will benefit West Ham, even if they are relegated? Will they be able to fill it up on a regular basis? Will there be a good atmosphere in the stadium? Is this a move in the right direction for the club? Is it right that we are leaving our fine history at Upton Park behind (much like Arsenal leaving Highbury)?

  • Comment number 6.

    Not sure @Stuz359 that West Ham are especially guilty of "chopping and changing managers". In fact they have had fewer (13) permanent managers in their history than any other premier league club. Gianfranco Zola was judged on results but before him Alan Curbishley resigned for other reasons. And the current owners bring with them a good track record of loyalty to managers whilst at Birmingham, so let's wait and see. I think they will struggle to stay up this season though.

  • Comment number 7.

    Between 2001 and 2010 the Hammers have had six 'permanent' managers (Redknapp, Roeder, Pardew, Curbishley, Zola and Grant) as well as one medium-term caretaker in the form of Trevor Brooking. That's as many managers in 9 years than they had in the previous century! If you add into the mix the fact that ownership has changed 3 times in that period too...well, it's not hard to come to the conclusion that this has been a club without any clear direction for quite some time. Personally, I've no real confidence in Grant's management of the TEAM on the pitch, but then that's merely a reflection of the fact that I have no real confidence in Gold, Sullivan and Brady's management of the CLUB off of it. This is best exemplified by the slow death they subjected Gianfranco Zola to over the course of six painful months last season. Zola's management wasn't without issue, but his ability to do his job was severely compromised by the constant public pronouncements and criticisms coming from the boardroom. For my money, while Gold and Sullivan may indeed improve the balance sheet of the club during their tenure, as long as the terrible trio remain in charge I cannot see any manager of repute and/or class wanting to work for them.

  • Comment number 8.

    Grant has never been a great coach. They'll still go down.

  • Comment number 9.

    Credit to Scott Parker. I'm a Stoke fan and he was absolutely immense when West Ham came to the Brit and drew 1-1, Parker himself scoring. If West Ham manage to stay up, 90% of it will be down to him, not taking anything away from anyone else but it really is "Scott Parker United".

    Also, should Spurs try and sign him again, he shouldn't be begrudged leaving because he is just too good for the Hammers and their current league position. However, his loyalty to the club is so outstanding I'm not even sure he'd leave if they were relegated.

    Good luck to West Ham, as you said Phil it's a great place to go, but I just don't think they are clinical enough when it comes to winning games (see Birmingham City away and Blackpool at home) and that could be their downfall...

  • Comment number 10.

    3. At 00:38am on 28 Nov 2010, homanahomana wrote:

    I'm not a West Ham fan, but I'm glad you've finally blogged on a team outside the top 5. I'm sick and tired of your pandering to the masses of the richest clubs.

    Now do a blog on Boltons acheivement this season.

    ----------------------------------

    He did less than a week ago

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/philmcnulty/2010/11/coyle_taking_bolton_forward.html

    I'm pleased we are getting more blogs on some of the 'smaller' sides in the division rather than the usual suspects. Although expect one on either Chelsea, LFC or Spurs after today.....

  • Comment number 11.

    @homanahomana "Now do a blog on Boltons acheivement this season."

    Try logging into the bbc website a bit more often before mouthing off... there is a blog on Bolton and Coyle's achievements.

    As for West Ham, I saw the match yesterday (albeit on telly) and they produced some decent football at times. Must be said, however that Wigan were REALLY poor. At other times during the season when I have seen West Ham play they do not seem to have gelled as a TEAM! I honestly believe their players can be good enough to avoid relegation but at the moment they just seem like a bunch of players thrust together and asked to sort it out. No real patterns, link ups, or anything, just Scott Parker playing out of his skin.

    Anyway, as an Arsenal fan I have no real connection with the Hammers, but I've been to Upton Park on several occasions and it's a fantastic place to watch football. therefore I truly hope they stay up; West Ham belong in the PL!

  • Comment number 12.

    so thats 1044 words and a heap of cash for an article that may as well say

    "Nothing's changed"

    There was absoloutly nothing new in this article. Very poor.

  • Comment number 13.

    Morning - and many thanks to Omegawebby and Chris Wilby for pointing out to homanahomana exactly what I was about to point out re. the Bolton blog.

    Hope to hear from plenty of West Ham United fans today on Grant and their club's future. Just for information - this week I will be out at Birmingham v Aston Villa and then at Blackpool v Man Utd next week. I can assure you every club will be blogged on at least once between now and the end of the season.

    So West Ham fans, let me hear your thoughts after yesterday.

  • Comment number 14.

    very much agree with post 11

    as a Gooner I very much hope to see West Ham continue in the PL I can think of two teams in particular I would like to see take the drop one begins with the letter S and the other with the letter B these sides have brought absolutley nothing to the PL and the sooner they and thier neantherdal managers get in the Championship the better.

    as for Avram Grant, i personally like the guy, always have done even when he was at Chelsea, who i thought treated him disgracefully. He nearly worked a miracle with Pompey ( another side that should hurry back to the PL ) I think West Ham are in good hands! they play good football and have decent players.

    I would aslo like to echo the views of others on teams covered in the Blogs, it is a refreshing change not to read about the likes of Ioweu DisUntited and Liverpool, the latter having been done to death season after season after season. a very Boring!

  • Comment number 15.

    West ham on current form will get relegated this season

  • Comment number 16.

    Regarding Di Canio. Did he not top his his year at the highly regarded Italian coaching academy? Once Grant has taken us down, I would welcome his return.

  • Comment number 17.

    oops i made a gross error........

    " I would aslo like to echo the views of others on teams covered in the Blogs, it is a refreshing change not to read about the likes of Ioweu DisUntited and Liverpool, the latter having been done to death season after season after season. a very Boring! "

    that should read; as the former having been done to death.




  • Comment number 18.

    I'm sorry but why exactly must a neutral not want West Ham to go down? As a neutral you want teams capable of playing the best football in the top league; and I don't mean Arsenal's free flowing game either, I enjoy a team playing the perfect counter attack game as well.

    On that accord West Ham have been absolute rubbish this year and if their standard doesn't pick up they should and will go down. Hopefully they'll take Wigan and Wolves with them.

  • Comment number 19.

    It was a really good win for West Ham yesterday, but I agree with the article in the fact that West Ham are far from safe. Wigan themselves have serious problems, at the back in particular. I'm not convinced by Grant and I reckon that the Hammers are heading the way of Grant's Pompey side last season.

    I think at least one perhaps two established premier league teams will get relegated this season. I just hope it's not the villa!

    http://www.inofftheghost.wordpress.com

  • Comment number 20.

    [sigh] Not another blog about West Ham

  • Comment number 21.

    West Ham's season will be decided in thr january transfer window because the squad they have at the minute isn't good enough.

    Gold and Sullivan came in and bought a sinking ship and need to invest in the ship if they want to stay in the PL. Putting pressure on the manager to get results without the players doesn't work.

    As an Arsenal fan i think its crazy that the owners get so much time in the media spotlight, leave that to the players! Just get the club back on its feet and build.

    If they've bought the club without having funds to invest then they are idiots, simples.

    If they had three players of Scott Parkers ability and desire they will stay up but in my book that means they need to buy 2 of them.

  • Comment number 22.

    As a life long west ham fan we have up and downs haha but this year is just not going right am i happy about the win YES ! do i think its the start of something I DONT NO ! but hey thats what its all about being a hammers fan even if we wish it was not like that sometimes as for our players i really do think ( and not just saying it as a hammer fan ) we have a good team ( to good to go down ) but other then parker who in my eyes is our top man most players just give up when we are down a goal or if we are up a goal they also give up as for cole i say get rid of him ive always had good words to say about him and he talks the talk but still not walked the walk and thats what we need. I no its not on the cards but im a big fan of D.Bent i think its someone like him up front we need not big talks about the best in the world coming to the club and past there best players , Would love to see him at west ham with players like parker not just saying D.Bent as there are other players out there that would be good for the club that could mix with our other front players but looking at our front players i think someone like D.Bent would do the job as cole just dont seem to do it. As for Grant i think keep him on as said before we need to give him a chance geting rid of him now will just give the fans and players even more less hope. As for moving to the Olympic Stadium not sure about other west ham fans but thats the last thing on my mind right now yes it would be nice and yes i do think west ham could fill the place but if we was mid table right now there could be more time/hope to think about it but for now its just about getting off the bottom but for the future i think the move will be good ive been going to west ham since i was 3 years old and the history is great where we are but as time moves on so should west ham in the long run i can see it being a good thing most west ham fans belive the same but leaving the history will always be a hard thing to do

  • Comment number 23.

    of course you can't save a season with this match - utterly null point to make!

    i'm never an advocate of getting rid of managers early but, even despite the win, i think grant is the wrong man for the job. we will be relegated with him at the helm.

    deeper issues exist too and the players need to show heart and play smart - we also need strengthening in january, but so much of that is down to the manager - you wouldn't go over the top for grant, and he's been a poor tactician for us so far. sides like blackburn and blackpool make the most of their limited talents through passion and smart play - if you can't do that with a squad like ours you will go down

  • Comment number 24.

    #4

    You're right, for a team with a proven manager and a squad assembled two years ago and finished 9th, it's an extraordinary downfall that simply illustrates West Ham, good when they're excited for it, but lethargic otherwise. But fans have become increasingly accustomed to watching them fail spectacularly this season that it's painful to spend expensive on them, they need to offload players who are on big earning underachievers, namely Boa Morte, Carlton Cole (go to Stoke and use your height for their long-ball tactics because you have no technqiue and no use) and retain Scott Parker, he's indomiatble and imperative to West Ham, but Mark Noble should be included, he's impressed me and he and Parker should be given slots in the England team, players who play regularly alongside each other will tend to be better on international level.
    I would have suggested dismissing Grant and bringing in old legends like Curbishley or Di Canio but that's unlikely, still Di Canio doesn't need any potent tactical awareness, he'll simply inspire a squad of promising yet demoralised players and that's what Grant cannot do-provoke a reaction from these players...there has to be a heavy exodus of the misfits in our squad.

  • Comment number 25.

    And seriously Phil, when West Ham do win, they should be afforded to have some credit, not just dire warnings and criticisms towards them, fix up on what you say towards the Hammers.

  • Comment number 26.

    23. At 11:30am on 28 Nov 2010, kaufman39 wrote:

    Couldn't agree more with all that you've said!

    "show heart and play smart" Perfectly epitomises it, you have to be organised and play by the numbers if your squad is lacking in quality.

    Also on Grant, although he has a tough job at the moment he has got to motivate the players to play above themselves and make them realise that West Ham going down will affect their careers in the long run.

    If the team as a whole played with half the effort of Scott Parker then they wouldn't be in the position they find themselves.

    They need to dig deep to avoid relegation because no club is too big to go down.

  • Comment number 27.

    I think Scott Parker, Behrami, Piquionne, Obinna, Green are good enough to save West Ham from relegation.

  • Comment number 28.

    As a West Ham fan for more than 20 years I've had my fair share of heartbreak (several relegations) from the team and the euphoria has been somewhat limited (3rd in 85-86, FA Cup Final in 2006). The mere mention of saving our season before the match yesterday was only ever going to be a marketing ploy to get us behind the team. Even if Wolves hadn't beaten Sunderland our best position possible was still 19th, 2 points behind Wigan, so how could it save our season? I think the point of the exercise was to get the fans onside and off the back of the manager for 90 minutes, then deal with the fallout if Wigan had turned up to play.

    This sort of thing is not needed at West Ham. We are all realists and closet optimists, believing the hype at the start of the season that Cole would get the goals to challenge the European spots that were promised by Eggert within 5 years and facing the reality after 4 games that we are not nearly good enough for that. In analysis, and after watching yesterdays game for 90 minutes, our goalkeeper is quality, lacking severely in confidence, but the defence is the opposite. Upson is fast losing his composure and anticipation, which is what got him into the England squad. Other players who don't have this rely on their speed but Upson is regularly outpaced by passing butterflys. Tomkins and Gabbidon are mediocre at best but at least Tomkins has age on is side to improve and Ilunga needs to go to a good defence school.

    Our midfield is what keeps us going, strong where we need to be. There is room for improvement, but it has potential.

    Up front we are lacking in so many areas. Piquionne, the man to replace Ashton reminds me of Andy Cole, give him 20 chances and he'll score a goal - great at Man Utd where you will get 20 chances a game, but at West Ham that hasn't happened since Alan Devonshire was slinging in crosses in front of the standing supporters in the Chicken Run. Obinna has looked good in a couple of games, but too often disappears like in the Newcastle debacle and Cole just seems to clunky. He's like the Sunday league footballer given a chance in the PL who knocked in a couple of goals by accident (WH vs. Spurs last season).

    If we are going to stay up, we need four GOOD defenders and if possible a goalscorer. No matter who the manager is, if we don't buy good defenders in January you could get Mourinho in as manager and we would still be relegated.

    As you say Phil, nice win, but it doesn't really fool anyone

  • Comment number 29.

    Seems to be the cliched view at present but it also one I prescribe to that West Ham have enough good players that they should not go down and in Scott Parker have one of the standout players of the season so far. That said the team performances have not been good enough and they need some of their other big players to start putting in the level that he is. It would be sad to see them go down because, as noted, it adds something to the league. This year it is difficult to pick the relegation candidates.

    http://goodfeetforabigman.wordpress.com

  • Comment number 30.

    3. At 00:38am on 28 Nov 2010, homanahomana wrote:
    I'm not a West Ham fan, but I'm glad you've finally blogged on a team outside the top 5. I'm sick and tired of your pandering to the masses of the richest clubs.

    Now do a blog on Boltons acheivement this season.

    He did it last week...

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/philmcnulty/2010/11/coyle_taking_bolton_forward.html

  • Comment number 31.

    We should never have sacked Zola in my opinion. The squad has improved since Zola left and he seemed to do a lot better with what we have got. What we need to do is get rid of all the dross in our squad, the players who wouldn't cut it at championship level e.g Jonathon Spector, Ilunga, and the players who are paid about 70 grand a week e.g. Kieron Dyer, Boa Morte. We need a new left back and a new striker.

    We also need to get DiCanio into the coaching team for passion and inspiration.

  • Comment number 32.

    "I'm not a West Ham fan, but I'm glad you've finally blogged on a team outside the top 5. I'm sick and tired of your pandering to the masses of the richest clubs.

    Now do a blog on Boltons acheivement this season."
    --------------

    What, like the blog he did on Bolton earlier in the week? :P

  • Comment number 33.

    Since we last came up, we had one good season in 05/06 where we finished in the top half and made the FA Cup. Since then we were nearly relegated twice (06/07 and 09/10), had one dull season rooted in 10th (07/08) and another season where we looked doomed mid-season but rallied to get to mid-table (08/09). In that time, we have spent loads and then had to sell loads. Even with new players, we still look thin across the squad and we have no decent left back at all, something which is continually not fixed. If we play with the right players in the right positions and we have our best experienced defenders out there in the right positions, we're not bad. Otherwise, we're just the team who should have gone down last year.

  • Comment number 34.

    I hope to god WHU don't go down!

    They're a starter for 6 for Bolton every season!

  • Comment number 35.

    Granted (pun intended) West Ham are not a great team and, even if they do stay up, it'll be by the skin of their teeth, yet again. The fact is though, that they can play when they want to but lack the clinical ability to close teams down, letting them back into games that should've been as good as over. You could say that they were fortunate in who took the penalty yesterday, but Defoe hardly bettered that effort today and he hadn't just come on as a substitute. Also, two points lost by the ref against Wolves and two blatant penalty denials against B'ham and Blackpool do not help a team desperate for points. 6 more points would see West Ham in a much better position in the league and this blog wouldn't have been written.
    As a West Ham fan, of course I don't want them relegated, but 3 teams have to drop through that dreaded, financial trap door every season, and as West Ham struggle most seasons, you could argue they deserve it.
    What is lacking in the team is Parker's spirit and drive - transfer that to the rest of the players and I feel they'd stay up. However, I can't see Grant as the man to be able to do that.

  • Comment number 36.

    Re #14.

    A team beginning with 'B', how cryptic! Well as a Blackburn Rovers fan I don't take too kindly to the accusation we have brought 'nothing to the PL.

    In the last 8 years we have achieved two top 6 finishes, two top 8, 6 cup semi finals- with 1 win and 3 European campaigns, all done without two pennies to rub together.

    A record a lot of clubs in the PL wouldn't mind, don't you agree?

    Sam Allardyce is just one manager who does not represent the heritage and achievements of my club, as Owen Coyle has proved, a style of football can change quickly.

  • Comment number 37.

    As Grant is looking for new coaches what about Ray Wilkins? He was only on £400k at Chelsea so that's not a problem! Seriously he did a great job for Chelsea and could add a touch of charisma to the management team. Still that won't be that difficult.

  • Comment number 38.

    #36

    he's an arsenal fan, so im guessing he's talking about stoke and birmingham (ie. ramsey and eduardo) so no need to get yourself too worked up mate!

  • Comment number 39.

    I don't mean to be a pedant but when homanahomana said:-

    'I'm not a West Ham fan, but I'm glad you've finally blogged on a team outside the top 5. I'm sick and tired of your pandering to the masses of the richest clubs.'

    and people jumped on him/her because the previous blog was about Bolton. Well I think you are all wrong because I think Bolton were sitting in fifth position. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

    [Sits back in gold gilded throne, takes a toke on bubble pipe and chuckles]

  • Comment number 40.

    There are clearly problems at West Ham, including the lack of a goalscorer. It is worth remembering though that with defeats in all of the first 4 matches (to Villa, Bolton, Man Utd and Chelsea), they effectively started 4 matches late. Since then, 2 wins, 3 defeats (including away games at Arsenal and Liverpool)and 6 draws gives 12 points from 11 games. That's not brilliant but there is some progress.

    The game at Sunderland will be important but West Ham have already won there this season in the Carling Cup. They have 3 new players available in coming months in the returning Jack Collison, Zavon Hines and Thomas Hitzlsperger, plus whatever they can pick up in January.

    No, the season is not yet saved, but converting draws to wins would make a big difference - Has they done so at Birmingham when 2-0 up and at home to West Brom, when 2-1 up, they would already be out of the relegation zone.

  • Comment number 41.

    We lack a cutting edge and desperately need an out and out goal scorer.

    Obinna has flair but cant finish (except yesterday) hopefully hines will get us some goals when he's back. We've never really replaced Ashton.

    Hopefully we will play a team similar to the lot below in 2011

    4-4-2

    Green

    Jacobsen - Upson - Tomkins - Illunga

    Noble - Parker - Hitzleperger - Collison

    Cole - Obinna

    Subs
    Reid
    Faubert
    Barrera
    Behrami
    Stanislas
    Hines
    Piquionne

    Deadwood needs to be cleared out with some fresh faces replacing the following; Gabbidon, Dyer, Boa Morte, Kovac, McCarthy and Spector,

    Gabs isn't first team quality anymore. Dyers too injury prone. I struggle to see how Boa Morte still plays in the prem. Kovac is great as back up but i dread every time i see him replace someone.
    McCarthy was a panic buy that was such a bad idea. Spector just isn't premier league quality.

    Cole. Upson and Illunga have seriously lost form but do have it in them to regain it, they just need to be coached well.

  • Comment number 42.

    WHU has this history of mistreating their managers, haven't they? Curbishley, Pardew and Zola. I used to follow WHU with some interest even though I'm not their fan but their attitude towards their managers has really put me off and now I don't feel for them anymore. They are in this ditch cuz of themselves..

  • Comment number 43.

    Secondly, this thing about Phil not writing about clubs down the ladder. Well, no one then reads the blog. The % of comments on such blogs goes down by some 70% !!

    Also, all those stupids who claim Phil's attachement to a club. When he writes about Utd, everyone makes him a Utd fan. When he writes about Liverpool, everyone slates him to be a Liverpool fan. There was even a numpty who, when Phil wrote a blog about Everton, slated him of being an Everton fan. Gosh, leave the man alone. What the hell is your problem whoever he supports? And it's a blog. He is free to write whatever he wants, about whoever he wants, as much as he wants. If you don't like it, just get lost man. It's his blog, not yours. Seems there are alot of people who dont possess an ounce of common sense. Pathetics..

  • Comment number 44.

    Re my comment no 42: Since almost 24 hours of this blog being written, there have only been 41 comments!! (excl mines)

  • Comment number 45.

    Sadly, because of my DNA I am a forlorn West Ham fan....when it's in your DNA there's sweet FA you can do about it. You spend each match day with your fingers crossed, pretending not to give a damn yet peeping slyly at ceefax or the on line latest scores..another loss signals another few days of that sickening feeling before you start building yourself up for the next weekend game.........and so the circle goes on, bubbles fading and then flying and then fading ad nauseum.
    You clutch at small positives............in the last 11 premier league games "W2 D6 L3"..........in the last 13 games against premiership opposition W4 D6 L3.and yet we know:

    we are not blessed with a striker who will give us 20 goals a season (Cottee was the last one?) or
    a backup striker/midfileder who will chip in with a double figue tally

    That means it is a big ask to survive when the money's not available to go and buy what you need. I am pleased that we now havea specialist defensive coach, 'cos when the goals for are hard to come by, you certaunly can't keep on leaking them at the other end as we have been doing. But for all that...COME ON YOU IRONS!!!

  • Comment number 46.

    As a fan I was pleased to see Stanislas and Tomkins starting yesterday as the Premier League starting XI has lacked academy graduates so far this season besides Noble. Yesterdays performance was a step in the right direction but many issues still remain bubbling (no pun intended) beneath the surface.

    I just hope this win gives the boys confidence heading into a tasty cup quarter final against Manchester United on Tuesday night.

  • Comment number 47.

    So tell us something we don't know McNulty. Do you honestly believe WH supporters don't know this was just a small step to survival.
    Apart from that the rest of this blog is rubbish. "Cole got relegated to the bench for his comments". Cole, for your information, as you obviously didn't bother to check, has been on the bench several times lately, and way before he made any comments.

  • Comment number 48.

    "West Ham on current form will get relegated"....
    Really? I don't think anyone would have guessed that by the fact they are at the bottom of the league.

  • Comment number 49.

    west ham should go down this season, they constantly flirt with relegation so only a matter of time. when a club has to use a marketing ploy to attract supporters, how much confidence do their players have?

    avram grant maybe isnt a good a manager as the bubble blowers think, at chelsea he already had a great team and now he has got a poor team, other than parker, his management skills are coming to light.

  • Comment number 50.

    West Ham should practise their 'slick marketing ploy' of 'Save our Season' for every home game, if it produces the result they achieved against Wigan: why not ? There seems to be too much dependency on Parker, though, for the club to remain in the top division.


    Serious Football

  • Comment number 51.

    Good blog Phil, I think that its absolutely right that we are not even remotely close to being out of the woods .... all it would take is for Parker to get injured in training today for a few months and I think most West Ham fans would write the season off there and then!

    I think technically we are good enough to survive ... the problem with this team is its mental strength, which is shocking. The stats say it all- losing numerous leads from winning positions this season, not winning away from home in the league for 15 months, not winning from a losing position for goodness knows how long. It is so annoying to see players visibly just give up as soon as going a goal down (especially away)- I think thats what Cole was so frustrated about.

    Although I do have one gripe Phil, since when has it been considered a neccessity for a player to have a warm up and some game time before taking a penalty?? As far as I am aware its just about kicking a ball into a net, do you really think that Boselli would have placed the ball more into the corner had he been on the pitch for five minutes? Or that teams who sub penalty specialists on minutes before a shootout actually shouldnt because the players would not have had time to adapt to the pace of the game?

    I think you can just put it down to the fact that Boselli clearly is either not a good penalty taker or just happened to hit the worst one of his life for non-warmup realted reasons and a give a bit of credit to Green, who actually now has a fairly good penalty record.

  • Comment number 52.

    Wondering if DiCanio couldn't help to generate a 'feel good' factor among the players, help them get their heads up a little. One win can change a lot of things, and if they go on a run of collecting points now, you might have to revisit this blog..It might well be the turning point....

  • Comment number 53.

    Apart from some awful defensive marking so far this season, a significant contributory factor to West Ham's table position has been a number of erroneous refereeing decisions, which, a quick internet search reveals, Avram Grant will surely agree with.

    To name but three separate matches

    Disallowed last minute goal at Wolverhampton (by surprise, surprise Clattenburg) - my osteopath is a Wolves season ticket holder and he thought that there was nothing wrong with it.

    Denied clear penalty at Birmingham right under the linesman's nose and Birmingham's equaliser came from a free kick awarded for a clean tackle by Scott Parker.

    Two penalties turned down at home to Blackpool in circumstances in which we see them awarded every week.

    Those decisions alone represent a potential loss of 6 points and a comfortable mid-table position.

  • Comment number 54.

    Typical...

    We always complain that Phil only writes blogs about the big teams....but only 53 comments so far just proves that beyond the top 4 we are not interested. if this was a blog about the top 4 plus liverpool it would have stretched well into 2 pages by now.

  • Comment number 55.

    @39

    Before you think too highly about yourself
    Homana clearly said : and now do a blog about Bolton and their form
    which Mcnulty did the week before

    you might want to read it properly before you start to comment :-)

  • Comment number 56.

    I think West Hams biggest problems come in central defence, where Tomkins isn't good enough yet and Upson doesn't really want to be at Upton Park any more. I think we should be throuwing our hat into the ring for David Wheater to help sure up our defence with a proven Premiership player. And we need a strong defence to be able to play attacking football, which at the moment we don't with numerous teams strolling through our team.

    Although Cole had a good season last season he is still not a prolific enough scorer so we should sell him as soon as possible before everyone else realises he isn't great.

    You mention that Grant has not built a rapport with the fans which could count against him. Our last manager Zola who did have a rapport with players and fans alike and it did him no good.


  • Comment number 57.

    as a season ticket holder i have seen some of the poor performances that this west ham team has put in infront of a growingly fustrated crowd. although the win on saturday is a positive sign, i still think we need to play a lot better to beat other mid-table teams. the wigan side that we played on staurday were very bad with n'zogbia their only hope. we need new players i and players that waste our money like boamorte who has played rubbish all season. we need a stronger defence therefore leaking less goals.

    with the introduction of our new defensive coach wally downes i think we can tighten up the defense. we need a stronger left wing with it being weak in ilunga and boa morte used regurlarly by this intresting team sheets by avram grant. we really need to sort it out soon. come on you irons!!!

  • Comment number 58.

    @54 actually the number of comments reflect that Phil has probably hit the nail on the head. Usually he makes some contraversal statements in relation to Arsenal winning the league, or Rooney leaving United, but what he says here is spot on. So no one is commenting because almost everyone is in agreement, I think it's quality people are seeking, not quantity.

  • Comment number 59.

    in my opinion west ham have a good team. i think their problems lay in defence. a lot will depend on obina and piquionne scoring goals and of course, scott parker driving the team on from midfield. i think the hammers may have a fight on their hands keeping hold of come the january transfer window. if he goes they will struggle a lot more then they are at the moment. however i do think avram grant is a decent manager and i think, in the end, he will lead them away from danger. i hope they can stay up, the league will miss them if they are relegated.

  • Comment number 60.

    I think that West Ham needs to strengthen their backline. Their midfield is nice and their forwards are coming together but Gabiddon and Tompkins are clueless there. I think the only defender more cluelsee than Gabiddon right now is Chimbonda :p

    With that said, I think they could stay up but they will be in the relegation spot all season long. Changing managers wont help as I think Grant has done a fairly decent job with what he has.

    BTW, did anyone watch the MUFC v Blackburn game on Saturday? :D

  • Comment number 61.

    It's an odd one with West Ham as a Manchester United fan I always ruefully but somewhat respectfully remember how they played a part in denying us two titles with senseational late season performances and then developed some fantastic young talent and an exciting team under Harry Redknapp before going down with the best set of players of the Premiership era to do so. Then they came back up with a spring in their step all the way to the cup final before pulling off a last minute escape act in 2007. There were always grafters and some real talent in those teams but since 2007/8 there's a real lack of quality or inspiration on the bench or on the pitch. West Ham are a club of real history and character but Parker aside there is nobody associated with the club anymore who can bring that. It's a bit of a disgrace how a club with such qualities has found itself being outperformed by numerous clubs who are making do without such a fanbase, location or history.

    It needs to start in the board room and work its way down but a good West Ham is good for football and I hope they can turn it around. First step needs to an enthusiastic personality on the bench. Martin O'Neill is there to be hired and if Sullivan and Gold mean business he should be the first person they call. The timewasters and has beens like Boa Morte and Dyer could go, the young British talent could be inspired to better themselves like Milner, Young & Agbonlohor did for him at Villa. The personality of Grant just doesn't sit with one of London's historic clubs.

  • Comment number 62.

    I am honestly not sure why Avram Grant got the West Ham job in the summer? I know he took Chelsea to a second place finish and Champions League final but that was with a team that Ranieri and Mourinho built,
    a squad full of top class players, a team who had just won the league twice in a row. At Portsmouth I think all the off field problems were used as an excuse, Grant acheived nothing there, at times Pompey looked like they had given up.

    There were a lot of candidates with better credentials and better ability than Grant, guys like Paul Jewell, Paul Hart and Glenn Hoddle who are without a club. Or a young up and coming manager from a lower league such as O'Driscoll at Doncaster or Lambert at Norwich.

    Onto the team which I think is suffering because of one reason, they have to many players that dont cut the mustard. Apart from Rob Green, Scott Parker and Mark Noble (& Youngsters Collison & Stanislas) the quality of player at WHU is poor. Matt Upson has rarely shown glimpses of his potential during his whole career and only seems to be on a downward slope. Carlton Cole looks the part physically and had a good season last year but one good season doesn't make you a top quality 20 goal a season striker. Ilunga looked like a quality left back when he first arrived but his form too has spiralled down the slippery slope. Dyer, Gabbidon, McCarthy and Boa Morte look over the hill. Barrera and Obihna have yet to excite and Behrami is very overated. I think anyone else you name in the WHU squad would struggle to get in any other Prem team. They have a squad full of also rans!!

    Simple fact is Gold & Sullivan need to dig deep in January and spend some money. I remember they did it in January a few years back at Birmingham (when Steve Bruce was in charge and a few others) and they will definitely need to do it here if they where Upton Park to host to flight football next season!!

  • Comment number 63.

    Avram Grant has a contract that is expensive to buy out. Mark Hughes has an owner that is now a mega rich billionaire and will he relieve Mark Hughes of his duties come end of December ? Will Mark Hughes be replaced by an ambitious manager with no funds to match, is that manager Sam Allardyce ? How many weeks has Mark Hughes to save his season ?

  • Comment number 64.

    I agree with the blog, our season cannot be saved now and will not be saved for a while, if at all. I believe Grant was a mistake as i don't believe he has a proevn record: taking a fully put together Chelsea side to the champions league final and getting to the FA cup final (where there is a lot of luck). Zola should of been given at least a couple of months, we wouldn't be in any worse situation. As for our current players, Cole and Ilunga need to go as they have just got lazy. Everytime the ball goes to cole during a move, it just breaks down. I think Gabbidon is doing a good job at left back with jacobson looking like a great signing. We just need Da Costa back to sort out the defense as Tomkins isn't quite there yet and we currently can't really give him pitch time. As for the midfield, it obviously revolves around parker, but Noble also tries very hard as does Behrami. Berrera needs time, which again we don't have. Piquionne up front is a very good option as he can lay off balls to other players regualary unlike cole who just heads it wherever he fancies. As for Obinna, he's not a brilliant player (bit of a bulldozer) but he makes up for that by trying VERY hard and continually chasing the ball, which we need to see from other players.

  • Comment number 65.

    West Ham should sign Beckham, he'll bend a few goals in for ya

  • Comment number 66.

    Looking at the managers of teams who will in all likelihood be down the bottom towards the end of the season, they all seem capable of motivating their team, or giving them a kick up the backside at half-time when needed; McCarthy, Holloway, Allardyce, McLeish, Hughes; I can even imagine Martinez losing it if his players were underperforming. Grant is the only one who seems incapable of doing so, just a completely uninspiring character, if West Ham are still down there towards April/May, which I think they will be, that could be a decisive factor.

  • Comment number 67.

    28. At 12:19pm on 28 Nov 2010, Loo In Spain wrote:

    Up front we are lacking in so many areas. Piquionne, the man to replace Ashton reminds me of Andy Cole, give him 20 chances and he'll score a goal - great at Man Utd where you will get 20 chances a game
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Unfair comparison on Andy Cole. Andy Cole WAS an excellent goalscorer. Forget Hoddle's nonsense. He wasn't made to look good by Man Utd or anything like that, he scored goals wherever he went until he was over the hill.

    Piquionne is a journeyman ex-French league striker with a bit of pace. Piquionne wouldn't look that good anywhere, apart from Ligue 2 and the Championship.

  • Comment number 68.

    Good article, really pleased West Ham finally managed another three points. Even as a Manchester United fan i have always respected the fans and atmosphere of Upton park as well as the tradions and history behind the club. I just don't get Grant though.. got some good results with quite honestly a poor team in Portsmouth last year. He seemed to do a good job with Chelsea (luckily for us Terry slipped) otherwise he would be a Champions league winner too! But doesnt have a plan B or from what ive seen any motivational aspects what so ever!? Why was he first choice when it came to apponting a new manager? West Ham don't have a particularly good team but i hope thy do stay up there are atleast in my opinion, three teams more beige than them in the Premiership this season.

  • Comment number 69.

    60. At 2:20pm on 29 Nov 2010, MUFCTrini wrote:
    I think that West Ham needs to strengthen their backline. Their midfield is nice and their forwards are coming together but Gabiddon and Tompkins are clueless there. I think the only defender more cluelsee than Gabiddon right now is Chimbonda :p

    Trini after yesterdays performance i'd also include Paul Konchesky to that list!?

  • Comment number 70.

    It is vital that West Ham aren't bottom at XMAS, we all know what happens to the team that are bottom at Xmas!

    This blog sums up the race to avoid bottom nicely! Have a read of West Ham and the ‘Pack’: The race to avoid the Christmas Curse!

    http://upper90magazine.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/west-ham-and-the-pack-race-to-avoid-the-christmas-curse/

  • Comment number 71.

    Whatever happened to Benni Mccarthy !

  • Comment number 72.

    Why did they let go of Diamanti ?!

  • Comment number 73.

    A solid win against Wigan - I should actually say a solid HOME win against Wigan. Home form is important than any other. Remember Burnley during the initial stages of last season ? I mean ... Man Utd, Everton, Sunderland, Birmingham all lost. So, relegated or not, focus on home games.

  • Comment number 74.

    BTW, Faubert is a superb right-back - almost Maicon-like !

  • Comment number 75.

    Let's hope West ham finally get the boot this year. They've dodged it for far too long!!

  • Comment number 76.

    @We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

    I partially agree with you, I mean ... Hull City did not deserve to be in the Prem last season - they just about dodged the drop. And they did not do particularly well last season. Still, as far as West Ham are concerned, there is still time ..... ( I think)

  • Comment number 77.

    Can't believe there's no comments on here about last nights thumping of SAF's kids + Giggs.

    Or all the hammers still waking up after celebrating into the wee hours :P

 

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