I believe West Ham United supporters should be worried, if they’re not worried already. Not only because they’re bottom of the table. But more so because the team reminds me a lot of the way that Avram Grant’s previous club, Portsmouth, played last season. And we all know where they ended up.
Rewind to last year and you may recall that Portsmouth was one of my guilty pleasures of the year. Out of all of the clubs in the Premier League, they were one of the most entertaining and played with an incredible spirit despite their plight. They were always a joy to watch. However, they never seemed to get the results they deserved to prevent being relegated.
Worryingly for Hammers fans, West Ham United seem to be spiraling down a similar story this season. Despite having zero points, they’ve played well during many spells of their matches except for their opener versus Aston Villa when they were dreadful. Many football supporters who haven’t watched West Ham will write them off as a piss-poor team this season. But if you watch them closely, there have been flashes of brilliance. Victor Obinna had a bright and encouraging match for West Ham on Saturday against Chelsea. Frédéric Piquionne had a perfect chance to score off a header from point-blank range but could only hit the crossbar. Scott Parker’s late goal for West Ham was world-class. But it was definitely too little, too late for West Ham despite the positive play.
Manager Avram Grant said that the club is playing more like a mid-table side than one threatened with relegation. However you could have said the same thing about Portsmouth last season. Pompey last season, despite playing very attractive football, didn’t score as many goals as they should have done. They created plenty of chances but the balls seemingly wouldn’t go into the net. That similar scenario could happen home and away from Upton Park. It is happening so far for the Hammers, but there is a long way to go in the season.
For Hammers supporters, the other worrying statement from Grant yesterday was this:
“We can take a lot of positives from this,” following West Ham’s loss to Chelsea.
Yes, it’s true. But the same could have been said about many of Pompey’s matches last season. The key point is whether Grant can coach his side to turn these positives into winning matches. I respect him as a manager but I’m very fearful for West Ham based on Grant’s inability last season (albeit under severe circumstances) to get Portsmouth out of relegation. Even if you disregarded the nine point deduction, Portsmouth still would have been relegated.
The other worrying factor for West Ham is the confidence of Robert Green and whether he’ll be able to overcome his flub Saturday against Chelsea when he spilled the ball that led to one of Chelsea’s goals. Just as Green made a costly mistake, so too did Joe Hart yesterday for Manchester City. How both of these goalkeepers recover from that mistake in their next game will show their strength. If Green cannot do this, Avram Grant should seriously consider moving Czech goalkeeper Marek Stech up to first team duty.