The Key to West Ham’s Success
Calls of “Big Sam Out”, and “Sack him”, rung around the Boleyn Ground last season, with multiple results such as losing 1-0 to Newly promoted Crystal Palace, and even being hammered by lower league Nottingham Forest 6-0 in the 3rd round of the F.A. Cup. West Ham manager, Sam Allardyce, or more commonly known as “Big Sam” was put under a lot of pressure by fans demanding more from the club. After 26 games, West Ham sat in the relegation zone, with only 13 points to their tally. The ultimate goal of possibly finishing in the top eight of the Premier League had certainly vanished, and the East London club had realized that a more realistic one would be to start the 2014/15 campaign in the Premier League. The Hammers had a few main problems last season. One of them being that the midfield was not solid enough, and secondly, they were lacking goals.
Setting up with a formation that only included one striker, West Ham knew that there supporting play in midfield had to be perfect, but the Hammers only scored 40 goals last season (approximately 1.05 per match). Sam Allardyce knew that he needed to change this over the summer, and rebuild the club. He brought in two solid defensive minded midfielders in Alex Song, and Cheikhou Kouyate. Ever since the two have come in, the hammers have a lot more stability in midfield, with a massive physical presence with the two. Song, a very experienced player with multiple appearances at Arsenal and even at Barcelona, brought a very cool and confident mind with him to the Boleyn ground. The more surprising of the two, Kouyate has benefited the club massively, as not only he can sit in a defensive midfield position, put can also play anywhere along the back line comfortably.
More notably, West Ham also brought in a three attacking players in Enner Valencia, Morgan Amalfitano, and Diafra Sakho. Valencia had impressed many at the World Cup for Ecuador, scoring three goals in three games for the South American side, even though they narrowly missed out on qualification to the knockout round. Amalfitano, the former Marseille and more recently West Brom player signed for West Ham on transfer deadline day in what seemed to be a panic signing. The French winger had impressed for West brom with his wonderful dribbling skills, and always had an a for the goal. Most surprisingly, The irons brought in Senegalese striker, Diafra Sakho to the club. Sakho had previously played for Metz in the second tier of French football, and impressed after scoring 20 goals in 38 games in the 2013/14 season. Not many supporters knew much about him, and he was expected to have a more permanent place on the bench, allowing Valencia and Kevin Nolan to get game time. Surprisingly, it has been Sakho that has taken the spotlight away from Valencia for the beginning of this season. The Ecuadorian has not been bad, scoring three goals, and adding a few assist for the Hammers, but Sakho has scored 6 decisive goals in 7 games, including what proved to be the winner in a memorable win against Liverpool. Amalfitano has also benefited, grabbing a goal per 2.5 matches, but his performances have been stunning.
The hammers have had a memorable season so far by beating the likes of Liverpool, and even last season’s champions, Manchester City. This has lead the Irons to 4th place in the league, and in the mix for champions league qualification places. Perhaps the best news of it all is that only 11 matches into the season, West Ham have scored 19 goals already, which is 47.5% of what they score in the whole of last season. The supporters and Allardyce must be happy with what they have seen so far, but the question is: Can they maintain it?
Jonathan Sheves View All
Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, but raised in London, England, Jonny Sheves had no choice but becoming a Football (or soccer) fanatic. He has owned a season ticket at Chelsea since he was 6, and follows his team domestically and internationally, by going to all of the teams Away games. Apart from being an avid Chelsea fan, as well as following major European Football, Sheves has developed an interest in the ever-growing MLS, specifically, the new franchise, NYCFC. Follow him on twitter @jsheves.
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