We may only be four games into the season, 13th in the table and with one point less than at this stage last season, but Monday night’s 2-2 draw at Hull City has created a sense of optimism amongst fans.
The team performed much better than in their inept display against Southampton and I believe Sam Allardyce might just turn out to be the good guy for West Ham.
Last season’s performance at the KC Stadium ended in a 1-0 defeat, our first on the road. This was seen as a bad result by the fans and, even though the Irons won the reverse fixture, they were still booed off the pitch at the end.
West Ham created very few clear-cut opportunities that evening and had to rely on a penalty and an own goal to clinch the 2-1 win. It was seen as a below average performance, especially as the visitors were down to ten men after goalkeeper Allan McGregor had been shown a straight red card.
In contrast, this year’s trip to face the Tigers saw the Hammers come from behind twice, something they haven’t done too often and, to add to that, Big Sam started with two upfront. Summer recruits Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho made the starting line-up for the first time since they joined the club.
I believe it was just an off day against Southampton. If the other performances this season are taken into account, then in my opinion we have played positive, expansive football.
Given that both the result and performance against the Saints were not what you would normally expect from a West Ham side, the pressure was on Allardyce at Hull to make sure that the Hammers ended up with something from the game.
Perhaps the manager is starting to wise up to the fact that the system needs changing, as the team played well throughout and in the second-half especially, as the visitors showed more attacking intent.
Having Valencia and Sakho on the pitch worked well as they both opened their accounts and the quick, accurate passing from the re-shaped midfield created several openings. With the added quality to play with, Stuart Downing is becoming the player we all hoped for when he signed.
With the team picking up a positive result and scoring two goals in the process, some of the pressure has been relieved from Allardyce’s shoulders, but the next game will be a very tough test. Liverpool come to Upton Park this evening and the home fans will want to see a first home win.
But Liverpool are a formidable challenge for anyone, so it is probably more about the performance than the result. If they don’t pick up anything this weekend and the performance is poor, then the pressure will be piled back on ahead of another difficult game at Manchester United on 27 September.
Monday night’s match might just be the turning point for the Hammers and if it is, the co-owners would have been proved right in their decision to stick by their manager. I have certainly always been behind Allardyce because he knows what is required and is in the process of building a side to deliver it within the budget he has to work with.