West Ham’s 2-1 comeback victory at White Hart Lane in the League Cup could give the Hammers the confidence needed to push on during this festive period. Sam Allardyce’s second half tactical changes led directly to both Hammers goals and made a complicated week for Spurs even more difficult.
Big Sam will be happy not only that his second half tactical moves resulted in the shift that took place from Spurs in control to a West Ham victory, but also that the attacking impetus and cutting edge so often lacking in front of goal returned in the decisive moments of the match.
The insertion of Mohammed Diame, Ravel Morrison and Modibo Maiga proved decisive in the final ten minutes of the match when the Hammers got both their goals. The first goal from a long ball was controlled by Maiga and then flipped on in a nice move that ended at the feet of Matt Jarvis whose finish was sublime. Minutes later Maiga, whose poor league form has forced multiple tactical changes, finished spectacular to give the Hammers the win.
The absence of Andy Carroll has been noticeable for the east London club all season. But perhaps now West Ham have found the formula to get strikers goals while winning matches. Maiga’s poor early season form led to a tactical shift to a striker-less formation and the re-signing of Carlton Cole who had been released over the summer. The 4-6-0 worked in a 3-0 win at White Hart Lane in early October but then was taken apart by the opposition partly due to the injury to Ricardo Vaz Te who had stood out in the unusual setup.
Allardyce then returned to Maiga but his confidence was shook. And even when he looked to score a goal, the opposition keeper would make dramatic saves as happened multiple times at the hands of Simon Mignolet against Liverpool. Now that Maiga has gotten off the mark and the January window is approaching, perhaps hope is returning for the Hammers.
Unlike the sides around them in the table, West Ham has not sacked a manager this season. This is for good reason as Big Sam is long established as one of the best in the business. Having now been publicly backed by ownership and still smarting from the high transfer fee paid for Carroll, it is doubtful West Ham will make a managerial change anytime soon. This is good news for the supporters who, while craving stylish football, have come to appreciate the virtues of Allardyce. Few if any managers in English football are better at figuring things out tactically and setting up a team simply to get results.
My sense is West Ham’s win yesterday will prove to be a stimulant to push the club forward during the critical festive period. While the Hammers situation means they will probably spend the season fighting the drop, sides with less seasoned and accomplished managers should be more concerned about relegation than West Ham.