As we enter into another International break, many Hammers fans will quietly be asking themselves that exact same question. Inspired by Nick Frost’s (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Spaced) twitter feed over the weekend, I quickly realized what a passionate yet disheartened bunch the Hammers supporters are this year. West Ham have made their worst start to a season since the 2002/03 season, a season that witnessed their inevitable relegation. They currently sit 19th on just 5 points without a win since the opening day of the season. Before the season began, all facts pointed to a more successful season than last year’s 9th place finish. For my money, the Hammers show promise & could be one of the best 19th place teams I’ve ever seen. They seem like a team that’s on the brink of “clicking”, a team that only needs that little bit of “something” to push them on. Maybe some renewed team spirit, or maybe the International break will provide a much needed mental rest. I just don’t get the feel that they’ll be anywhere close to the bottom 3 come late May.
Certain variables are definitely in favor of “the Academy”, Zola just turned 1 year old & seems poised to build on last season’s top 10 finish. The several-month pursuit of kinetic Italian striker Alessandro Diamanti finally ended in favor of West Ham with Diamanti ready to “give everything to the supporters”. 20-year old Jamaican International Zavon Hines looks to be the quickest man on the pitch with the ball at his feet. During West Ham’s 3-2 loss at Uptown Park to Liverpool, Hines made Liverpool veteran Jamie Carragher look like a red-faced old man gasping for air. West Ham also boast multiple England Internationals with the solid Matthew Upson, the pacy & strong Carlton Cole & quite possibly England’s next #1 in Robert Green.
So what gives?
West Ham are definitely a few years & a few hundred million pounds away from an assault on the Top 4, but 19th? It’s not just their schedule either. Losses to Spurs (albeit by a terrible give away by Carlton Cole that set up Defoe), Liverpool & Manchester City seem in line, but a 0-0 away to Blackburn, a 1-0 away to Wigan, & a lucky last grasp Junior Stanislas deflected-equalizer in stoppage time to salvage a point at home this past weekend all poise the question: Will West Ham come out of this?
I think (& hope) so. West Ham under Zola play organized, attacking football, & with their recent additions, look set to maintain their brand of positive forward-thinking play. They attack with pace (Diamanti, Hines) & strength (Cole). They have solid experience in midfield with Scott Parker, Julien Faubert, Valon Behrami & the impending return of Kieron Dyer from injury give them creative options & poise going forward. It’s early days yet regardless of what’s happened for the first month & a half of the season. I still believe the Hammers have some part to play in the upper half of the Premier League table.
The West Ham staff & players will definitely have a lot to ponder & plan over the next week & a half during this International break. 3 very difficult fixtures await them upon the reappearance of the Premier League: away to the deafening Britannia with Stoke City – home to 6 goal stunners Arsenal – & away to ambitious Sunderland. These 3 matches take West Ham through October, but will they take the Hammers out of the drop zone?
Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts, opinions or tactical ideas concerning West Ham’s slow start & good luck Hammers supporters for the rest of the season.