Fan blogger James Sneddon reflects on the 2014/15 campaign...
The 2014/15 season did not begin in the best way for West Ham. A 1-0 home defeat to Tottenham was seen as an indicator of another season where the team would struggle. However, a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace soon got the monkey off their back and things got better.
Performances and stronger unity in the squad brought out the best of the new-look Hammers side. Home victories over Liverpool and champions Manchester City saw West Ham begin a strong challenge for European football. By Christmas, the club found themselves fourth with 31 points.
The fear of drifting away didn’t cross Sam Allardyce’s mind but the worst case scenario happened. West Ham’s consistent form was damaged with a defeat and three draws. Beating Hull City 3-0 on 18 January was the club’s first win of 2015 and this was followed by an FA Cup victory at Bristol City. This looked promising, but two draws against Manchester United and Tottenham followed, with West Ham conceding equalisers in the dying moments. Those two months without a win saw the European dream fade.
The summer transfer window freshened up the side that survived in 2013/14 thanks to a good run of form post-Christmas. The arrival of prolific strikers Diafra Sakho and Ecuador international Enner Valencia excited the fans, and forced struggling Maiga out on-loan. Midfielder Cheikhou Kouyaté has turned out to be a good signing and his recent form has been heavily praised, even when he’s had to play in defence. Aaron Cresswell and loanee Carl Jenkinson provide assists and crosses into the box and are popular with the fans. The only new face in January was Brazilian Nenê and his chances have been limited.
Injuries in the second half of the season have negatively impacted the team. Andy Carroll’s knee problems have seen him sidelined for most of this calendar year, and injuries to Sakho and Valencia have meant the striking options have been limited. The defence has suffered badly; Collins and Reid have had injury woes and Kouyaté has had to revert to being a central defender. James Tomkins is also recovering from a shoulder operation.
Five games remain and the new objective is a top-ten finish. Next is a trip to White City to play QPR. Hopefully the team can come away with something in these games, knowing that if they finish in the bottom half they’ll have failed themselves.
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of West Ham United