What’s gone wrong with Irons – an analysis


sprentBy Rich Sprent

18 from 13

Six more wins or 1.38 points per game. That’s the season’s remaining target!

West Ham sit in 8th spot, the Cup ‘run’ stopped before it got to mid-stride, but the pre-season target of 56pts  still well within reach.

The team is more  than capable in achieving this total. Their early season form shows that they are able to play good attacking football and win points. 

However, the temporary solution to the injuries at central defence  will need to be addressed. It is clear that Cheik Kouyate is a capable deputy at the back. However, it is also crystal that has a huge effect in the middle of the park.

The club’s failure to secure another midfielder in the transfer window means that the pedestrian pairing of Noble and Nolan is being seen far too often. 

It would be easy to direct all this at the club captain as many have done. He has shown that he can put in a shift and a recent article showed that the team win as many games with him as without him. 

Together however, their lack of ability, pace, acceleration and movement is a problem doubled. It causes less options for the player in possession; more pitch for him to have to ball carry ; gifts the opposition more time to reset and get bodies behind the ball; gives less space for the forwards to operate in and makes life more difficult. In brief, it stifles us.

And all of that explains Song is holding onto the ball; tries difficult passe with mire not coming off . It’s why Downing sinks deeper to find the ball; why he is less effective; and he drifts out wide to find space. 

It’s why the fullbacks aren’t raiding. Instead they are left covering after the midfield have been turned up the pitch; or are closed down with little support for the angle pass from the midfield. 

It is why Valencia and Sakho look like strangers to each other and their teammates. They revel in space and quick transition of play, hitting the opposition with pace and movement. 

How often have we seen the almost inevitable traffic jam of defenders around them by the time the ball is passed around the back to give time for either Nolan or Noble to find space to contribute? That or the inevitable easy long ball to try and turn the opposition back four. Meat and drink to a back six waiting to soak it up.

One of either Noble or Nolan needs to be replaced in that centre pairing. Despite the populist view, to play the glittering way of early in the season, it really doesn’t matter which of them. 

Kouyate is the obvious choice as Poyet is clearly not being considered ready yet. And if that means blooding Henry a little early or even trying Joey O’Brien back there.

If not then 1.38pts per game looks like an arthritic lurch to the finish line with two players in the engine room who turn with the speed of the 15 bus at the White Horse, East Ham.

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Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!"

Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon


  • MerryMichaelW says:

    I’m sorry – imo you are talking nonsense.

    It has bad enough that Nolan has been made Club Captain.

    If you really want to see where you may have made a mistake – just check out his pass completion rate, compared with Noble’s. And don’t you dare compare them again. Ever.

  • TysonM says:

    Im sorry but i cant except that taking Nolan or Noble out of the team when Kouyate reverts back to the middle makes no difference.That is a serious slur on Noble to even be thought of as dropable rather than Nolan.This winning stats issue was earlier proved to be a total smoke sceeen.We were shown to lose 33% with Nolan,13% without him.This means with him he we pick up a positive result,be it a win,draw 66% of the time.Without him 87% of the time.The solution when all players are fit is to play the team from earlier in the season in the style they played.It only takes one central defender to comeback & it is all ready to be put back in place.Will Allardyce do this though.Very questionable i believe.

  • sibbo says:

    are you drunk the damage to our team is sam and nolan end of.

  • Hammerman6 says:

    Earlier today I posted my opinion that O,Brien should have started at the Hawthorns with Kouyate & Amalfitano in midfield along with Downing & Noble. Just for this one game, as Song is obviously struggling without pace around him, and is giving the ball away far to often as a consequence. (Or is he less than 100% fit, and we have no alternative).However;
    I certainly don’t agree that Noble should make way in preference to Nolan or anyone else for that matter. He gives his all every game, he is certainly not pedestrian, or lacking in movement.
    Our problems are, and will always remain, whils’t the misplaced loyalties of the manager of his chosen sons remain in place, the likes of Amalfitano, will suffer frustration on the bench,while the likes of Lee, Poyet & Burke will probably never get a reasonable chance..
    It really is a time for a new broom, and, if we get 56 points I will eat my preverbial hat. 49 is a much likelier figure and that’s a conservative estimate.
    Sorry chap but

  • bubs says:

    When Nolan was injured you and every fan was asking why Noble is not in the England team,now he is not good enough for our team,
    I am quite good at maths 1 and 1 make 2 you see perfect,
    Nolan and anyone in midfield = rubbish,
    Nolan any where but goal hanging behind AC = rubbish
    Noble with Song and Kouyate = brilliant
    Song With Noble and Kouyate = brilliant
    West Ham – Nolan and BFS ( sorry conkerpot ) = brilliant future
    2 Daves brings in new manager = Happy fans except Conkerpot ( shame )

  • oldiron says:

    Well said BUBS, SAM & NOLAN should be shown the door NOW. our team should be :
    When everyone is fit, that is.
    At the end of the season we need to get rid and replace DEMEL / O’BRIEN / NOLAN / CARROLL / MAIGA / COLE & SAM.


  • West Ham Fan No 32 says:

    There seems to be a mob culture of attacking individual players for poor results. In hindsight probably Allardyce should have had a gamble and put some kids in against WBA but that is not in his nature as every previous club he managed can attest too, furthermore I can’t remember a single time over his career when he has ever beaten a Pullis side. On Saturday it was a game too far, following two really good results, for all of the attacking of his character Nolan is a good captain, he doesn’t have the legs to play the counter attacking football that us supporters would like to see, he definitely has a role as club captain and impact sub he is a Captain who unites the players of the team and helps to create a positive environment for his team mates to flourish in. Its an embarrasment to hear morons booing him home and away, anyone that does that doesn’t support the club and has a complete lack of class. The major thing thats gone wrong is that we have had a load of injuries at the worst possible time, Sam has refused to give youth a chance, either to protect them or because of some other unbeknown reason but overall this season has been a great success so far a lot better than anything we have seen for years so lets get behind the team there are 4 London derbies now COYI!!!

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