Recorder Series West Ham United correspondent Dave Evans reflects on a winning end to 2015...
It was a difficult first half against Southampton on Monday evening – probably the worst I have seen West Ham play this season aside from Tottenham away.
But the way Slaven Bilic turned it around by bringing on Andy Carroll and Manuel Lanzini – two players who have been missing and have been vital at various stages this season – was outstanding. There is obviously more to come from them, and they definitely changed the game.
West Ham got the rub of the green on Monday, which they haven’t always had in the last few weeks. They have worked really hard and got some good draws when they haven’t really looked like scoring, holding on really well.
On Monday, they had a bit of luck with Michail getting into the box, because anything could have happened there. Then, for the second one as well, it could have gone anywhere when it hit the bar, but Andy anticipated it really well and headed it home – happy days!
James Collins was outstanding again and has been absolutely superb since he slotted back into the team. He seamlessly comes back into the team after periods on the bench and he never lets anyone down.
I have never seen any player block the ball as much as he does and I thought his heading was superb again on Monday. He just holds things together and I don’t think there is anyone who gives more for West Ham than James Collins.
Another player who caught the eye on Monday was Enner Valencia. He also works hard. Enner can be frustrating at times when he loses the ball, but you can see there is some skill and pace there, which is what you need at this level.
Slaven himself should take a lot of credit for changing things round against Southampton. He did make a mistake with some of the selections in the first half, and it could not have got any worse after half-time.
Changing the full-backs over was important because Carl Jenkinson is a right-back and showed that in
the second half, getting down that flank and creating space for Lanzini. James Tomkins seems to be able to play anywhere and always gives 100 per cent.
I’d have to give Slaven credit for his tactical acumen by the end.
I am very positive as we go into 2016, as long as the star players come back – particularly Dimitri Payet. There are players who are to come back into this team and when you think West Ham are seventh, there are bright times ahead.
Yes, West Ham have drawn too many games, but that’s because their scorers and flair players have not been there.
They have missed Diafra Sakho a lot too, because they have had to change the way they play the game, or they’ve tried to play the same way and it hasn’t worked. If those two come back and stay fit, then they can still finish in the top six.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of West Ham United.