Well the roller coaster that is 2014 is hours away from being a distant memory – one that we might just look back on as the turning point in West Ham’s history.
It had everything. From cup humiliations to completing a memorable hat-trick over Spurs. From calls for Sam Allardyce to be sacked to praising the work he’s doing. From relegation fears to dreams of qualifying for Europe. From the bottom three to the top four.
It’s amazing how far we’ve come in just 12 months. We’ve literally transformed ourselves in to a side well worthy of moving in to the amazing Olympic Stadium in 2016 in really no time at all.
There are so many talking points to look back on, good and bad. Highs and lows in equal importance. Are we witnessing the dawn of something special? Or is this just a flash in the pan? Who cares at the moment, let’s just enjoy the below summary of what we experienced at West Ham over the past 12 months…
We went in to 2014 sitting in 19th and ready to face fellow strugglers Fulham at Craven Cottage. Hopes were a high of a fresh start in the new year, with the expectation that Allardyce would spend wisely in the transfer market, as well as the long-awaiting return of record-signing Andy Carroll.
But it got off to the worst possible start as we crumbled to a 3-1 defeat to Fulham, with captain Kevin Nolan getting himself sent off again. That was swiftly followed by arguably the most embarrassing result in the clubs’s recent history – a 5-0 FA Cup Third Round defeat at the hands of Championship side Nottingham Forest.
Of course, we were in the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup – but that went exactly the same way as we were thrashed 9-0 over two legs. The club had officially hit rock-bottom.
But after winning 2-0 away at Cardiff and losing 3-1 at home to Newcastle, the result that arguably kick started our year came at Stamford Bridge.
Our 19th Century Football earned us a goalless draw with Chelsea – keeper Adrian the hero of the hour with a number of world class saves to keep out Mourinho’s men. This is where it all began…
We also strengthened the squad, with the likes of Pablo Armero, Marco Borriello, Antonio Nocerino and, erm, Roger Johnson. Rumour has it, Roger Johnson is still running backwards…
In a month of lowlights, it has to be our 2-0 win away at Cardiff. Andy Carroll made his long awaited return from injury and made an immediate impact off the bench by assisting Mark Noble for our second late on.
The first of just two unbeaten months in 2014, February saw us win all four of our league games – but not before one of the biggest controversies of the year.
We were all chuffed to finally see Andy Carroll back in the side after six months sidelined with a broken toe, but soon saw that excitement turn to anger as Swansea’s Chico Flores feigned injury after Carroll stroked the Spaniard’s pony tail – Howard Webb, the fool, fell for it and sent the big man off.
But fears of struggling without Carroll in the side were dispelled when we went on to win all three games in which he was suspended, ending the month tenth in the Premier League and seven points clear of the drop zone. Survival was close and it finally looked like we had turned a corner.
Winning four in a row and going from the relegation zone to the top ten in the process. It gave us a real boost for the remaining three months of the season.
We followed up an unbeaten February by losing three on the bounce at the beginning of March. Typical West Ham, eh?
The third defeat – 2-0 at home to David Moyes’ Man United – saw one of the goals of the season scored by Wayne Rooney, as he half-volleyed it in from the half-way line, leaving Adrian stranded and confused. Bless his little cotton Spanish socks.
But the month’s big talking point was the 2-1 home win over Hull City. It was, quite frankly, the dullest, most boring performance from a West Ham team. Ever. Yet we still managed to grind out all three points, albeit as a result of a rather fortuitous own goal.
The players were booed off at the end of the game, which prompted Sam Allardyce to cup his ears to the crowd. It was a bizarre time to be a West Ham fan. We were winning, but were equally growing more and more frustrated with Sam Allardyce and his style of football. The pressure was growing.
We finished the month off with a brilliant 2-1 victory away at Sunderland, with Andy Carroll getting himself on the scoresheet for the first time since returning from injury…
After losing three on the trot, we were in danger of being dragged back in to a relegation battle, but we all but secured our Premier League status by winning two consecutive games against Hull and Sunderland to leave us 11th going in to April. Oh, and it was nice to see Andy Carroll score his first goal since signing on a permanent deal.
We lost all four games in April, but that doesn’t really matter.
Life was put in to perspective when the club broke the tragic news that youth academy product Dylan Tombides had tragically lost his fight against testicular cancer – he was just 20-years-old.
It was a sad time for every one associated with the club, not least Dylan’s close friends and family, and we still miss him very much. RIP Dylan Tombides.
The season ended with us completing a famous hat-trick over rivals Tottenham, courtesy of Stewart Downing’s first ever West Ham goal (above).
We then went to Manchester City on the final day of the season, lost 2-0 and then watched them lift the Premier League trophy in awe. We safe, though. Finishing 13th in the Premier League.
Now all the attention was turning on whether Sam Allardyce would keep his job or not. Fans were split in opinion. Some wanted him out, others felt he deserved another crack at turning it around. We all know what happened next.
Need I explain?
It was a funny ol’ pre-season. Not least because it saw us conduct some very good business for once. The rebuild had begun.
The arrivals of Alex Song and Enner Valencia were particularly pleasing. Since then they’ve all impressed one way or another.
As we know, Allardyce kept his job, but only if he started playing a more attractive style of football and employed a forwards coach. Teddy Sheringham arrived and suddenly were looking at a completely different set up at West Ham.
The fixtures were then announced and we were treated with an opening day home fixture against Spurs. Twitter went absolutely mental – dreams of four wins in row began…
— WestHamWorld.co.uk (@WestHamWorld) June 18, 2014
After a dismal World Cup showing by England, it start of the new season couldn’t come quick enough – despite West Ham suffering one of their worst pre-season schedules in recent memory.
Still, everyone was optimistic and looking forward to beating Spurs again. But that all went Pete Tong when Eric Dier (who!?) rounded Adrian in the 90th minute to give Spurs a 1-0 win at Upton Park. Sickening.
But we followed that up with an impressive 3-1 away win at Crystal Palace – Mauro Zarate netting the pick of the goals with a wonderful volley from the edge of the box.
Our cup history under Allardyce remained poor, as we were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Sheffield United. Shocking, although we’re still waiting for them to blame Carlos Tevez about something this season.
A woeful performance at home to Southampton followed, resulting in a 3-1 defeat and visions of yet another difficult season ahead.
In a month that didn’t have much to cheer about, the win at Palace and Mauro Zarate’s goal has to be the only highlight of August.
September saw us officially announce ourselves as the new West Ham United.
After a 2-2 draw away at Hull, in which Enner Valencia scored one of the goals of the season, we welcomed Liverpool to the Boleyn Ground – and absolutely played them off the park.
The 3-1 victory saw Diafra Sakho score a wonderful chip to announce himself as force to be reckoned with up front and suddenly Hammers fans were wondering what on earth had happened to the West Ham team they used to know. Having hit rock bottom in January, we were finally looking like a side capable of anything.
We ended the month with a 2-1 defeat away at Man United, which saw Kevin Nolan have a perfectly good goal ruled out for offside in the 90th minute. Somethings never change at Old Trafford.
We all know the Liverpool victory was beautiful, but Valencia’s goal against Hull has to be equal to it. Just stunning…
We started October off with a comfortable 2-0 home win over QPR before then going to Burnley and recording an equally comfortable 3-1 win – taking is in to the TOP FOUR of the Premier League.
Diafra Sakho couldn’t stop scoring and we were playing attractive, attacking football. Sam Allardyce was delivering on the promises he was forced to make to the board and suddenly talk of qualifying for Europe was beginning to start amongst fans.
— WestHamWorld.co.uk (@WestHamWorld) October 18, 2014
But it was the 2-1 home win over Champions Manchester City that really proved we had turned a corner. Just ten months after being humiliated in the Capital One Cup, we went and deservedly beat the same City team. West Ham were officially back.
— WestHamWorld.co.uk (@WestHamWorld) October 26, 2014
— FL Power Rankings (@FLPowerRankings) November 1, 2014
And it all ended up with the Boleyn Ground doing the Poznan. Absolute scenes…
Great doing the Poznan today. Still can't believe we beat City. Still can't believe we're in the top four. pic.twitter.com/pnERkbvypB
— WestHamWorld.co.uk (@WestHamWorld) October 25, 2014
It was such a happy time for everyone involved with the club that even Russell Brand couldn’t hold his delight after the win over City…
And an unbeaten month ended up with Sam Allardyce and Diafra Sakho winning the Premier League Manager and Player of the Month awards respectively. Just months after fans were calling for Allardyce’s head, he was now fast becoming West Ham saviour, winning the Upton Park faithful’s support once more…
— WestHamWorld.co.uk (@WestHamWorld) November 7, 2014
Obviously it was the City win and the euphoria that came with it, but the below Vine of Sam Allardyce may just beat it…
After the perfectness of October, we went on a three game run without a win, losing our first game since the end of September against our bogey team Everton at Goodison Park.
But we ended the month on a high note by beating Newcastle 1-0 at home, with Aaron Cresswell scoring his first goal for the club since signing in the summer.
We ended the month outside the top four, but that didn’t matter. Confidence was at an all time high and it was becoming a real pleasure to watch West Ham again – especially after suffering for so long.
It has to be coming from two goals down to earn a point at Stoke City. Not many teams go to Stoke and come away with anything, so to take a point in the way we did was hugely encouraging. Goals from Stewart Downing and Enner Valencia helped continue our unbeaten streak.
December capped off what turned out to be a wonderful year for West Ham.
It got off to the perfect start as well, as we came from a goal down to beat West Brom 2-1 away from home – proving that we really don’t know when we’re beaten and it was another result that proved how far we’d come.
What a result that is. Grinding out results like that is what we've lacked in previous seasons. Absolutely fantastic. #COYI
— WestHamWorld.co.uk (@WestHamWorld) December 2, 2014
But it was the 3-1 win over Swansea that was the biggest result of the month. It took us in to the third in the Premier League and also saw Andy Carroll announce his return from injury with two goals – Diafra Sakho coming off the bench to net the third.
— WestHamWorld.co.uk (@WestHamWorld) December 7, 2014
— WestHamWorld.co.uk (@WestHamWorld) December 7, 2014
But unfortunately we could’ve keep up that kind of form heading in to the festive period and we ended the year with back-to-back defeats against Chelsea and Arsenal – leaving us sixth in the Premier League by the end of the year. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all.
Going third is obviously up there, but Alex Song showed his class against Swansea with this bit of magic…
Bring on 2015..
What a year it has been. We’ve come so far in such a short space of time and a lot of credit has to go to the Chairmen and Sam Allardyce in making it happen.
What can we achieve in 2015? Who knows, but surely we’ve got enough to challenge for a top six spot. January will be a tough month with us losing Sakho and Kouyate to the African Cup of Nations, but if the club can invest wisely again, we should be fine.
So here’s to West Ham United in 2015. Irons!