West Ham Season Preview

west hamThe Football Lab interviewed  fan @Brad_Pinard ahead of the new season. Here, he discusses the importance of centre-back Winston Reid, why Kevin Nolan needs to be dropped, and whether Sam Allardyce is the right man for the job.

A lot of fans dislike Sam Allardyce for imposing a defensive, long ball style of play, following West Ham’s traditions of attractive football. Do you share this view?

Winning is the most important thing for me. Allardyce had us very hard to beat around 18 months ago but there is no excuses for playing unattractive football and still losing every week, that is my issue. We have the players to be able to produce good football and maybe a new manager could instill that.

After some 40 years in charge of the club’s academy, Tony Carr moves on to an ambassador role. What are your thoughts on this?

A legend at the club and it seems a good time for him to take on a new role. The current crop of youngsters are not good enough for the first team and a club like West Ham relies on bringing through at least one or two so a fresh approach may be needed.

Jussi Jaaskelainen has extended his contract beyond his 40th birthday, but are you satisfied with Adrian San Miguel as the long-term replacement?

Adrian is a real fans favourite and while he makes the odd mistake, his passion is something rare in the current squad. Jussi looks very rusty whenever he gets a game.

You kept 9 clean sheets in the 22 games Winston Reid played last season, and 4 in the 16 games he didn’t. Will it be important to keep him fit?

Reid is vital to the side, as we only have three first team centre backs. He has turned down a contract offer which is worrying but in my eyes he is one of the best defenders outside of the top two or three sides.

Utility man Cheikhou Kouyate is highly-rated in Belgium; many are surprised he hasn’t moved to the Premier League until now. Are you pleased with this signing?

I have seen him once in pre-season and he looks decent. Strong, combative with technical ability. Everything that Mo Diame should be.

Mark Noble won the Hammer of the Year award last season. How good a servant has he been to the club over the last 10 years?

A wonderful servant and he seems to be getting better and better each week. It pains me to see the likes of Tom Cleverley in the England squad over him.

According to Who Scored, Kevin Nolan was the player with the worst disciplinary record, with 8 yellow cards and 2 reds. How would you assess his season?

I think it is time for Nolan to take a step back from the starting XI each week. Allardyce loves him but he doesn’t put himself about enough and the only attribute he did have, scoring poachers goals, seems to have left him. A good captain, but not good enough for the team anymore.

You’ve signed Argentine forward Mauro Zarate. Was it important to sign a striker, given the unreliable fitness of Andy Carroll?

Zarate was a ploy to please the fans I feel. I can’t see him starting many games in the Big Sam system so will have to make an impact from the bench, which he definitely can do.

With most bookmakers, West Ham are at around 6/1 for relegation. Where will you finish?

Depending on who the manager is come Christmas, I would expect simply to finish higher than 14/13th-ish with the current squad we have.

TFL Verdict

West Ham have enough quality to challenge for the top half, but it may take an early change of manager for them to do so. 11th