The Positive and Negative Thread - A Season Review Mr Polite 20 May 2013
After being in the wilderness of the Championship for just one year I think it is fair to say that expectations of our first season back was to stay up. That was the priority and anything else would be a bonus. Even though we proved to do that with relative ease it was still a season that got people debating - and by debating i obviously mean arguing.
So to break down the good and bad points I thought I'd do a brief Positive and Negative thread to help keep the 'debating' going for a little longer. this isn't meant to be a full season review, Vinny i'm sure will do a much better version of that, this thread is just to get peoples views on what they saw as the good bits and the bits that need working on.
10th place finish in our first season back is a fantastic return by anyones measure. I don't recall everyones pre season prediction but I said 15th and safe with a few games to go and I think most were around the same position but even the most optimistic would have barely said 10th!
Attendances have been excellent with very few games having empty seats around - in fact i think yesterdays was the first game in about a dozen that didn't sell out. Atmosphere hasnt been great bar a few games but there is no doubt we've been turning up in numbers.
Jussi came in for some criticism at the beginning of the season, mostly fair as I think he hasn't looked as solid as the Jussi we knew from Bolton days, but despite his flaws that his age seems to have brought all in all he has had a solid season and as the season went on he seemed to improve. Personally i'd still prefer to see a new better signing - but would be happy for Jussi to stay on as number 2 for another year. He has certainly turned out to be a positive.
Our defence as whole have been excellent and the Reid and Collins partnership has been very strong for the most part, with O'brien adapting well to left back and Demel also having a solid season they all gave us a solid base to build on with a number of well earned clean sheets.
A hat-trick from Nolan capped off a very good goal scoring return for a midfielder. Whatever you say about him, he does manage to score a number of goals.
Noble is the only other midfielder I feel deserves a mention in the positive column. I know many feel he doesn't give enough and there are times I can see what they mean, however when he is on form he pulls the strings in midfield like no other player we currently have, if Nobvle plays well, West Ham play well - yesterday was a perfect example. The first half of the season he was top drawer and was the inspiration to our excellent start - and we missed him when he was injured.
I dislike the way having andy Carroll in our team often makes us play, however there is no denying that if we are going to play that way...and we are, then there are few better that we could hope of getting. He literally wins everything in the air, but what please me most about him is his work rate and the way he plays for the team. He also has a an intelligence and awareness that winning headers is not enough and know where he should be flicking on or laying off too.
Both the U21 and the U18 doing well in their elite groups. The U21 topping their group brilliantly - it was only down to a number of the main players going out on loan and some key injuries that they didn't manage to do better in the second stage.
Hall, Morrison, McCallum and Turgott all doing well on their loan spells - with the latter being the first West Ham player in 3 decades to be part of a major cup final. Hopefully an experience they can all learn from.
Our away form is surely at the top of most peoples negative list. A awful season away from home apart from a coupl of blips. The league standings based only on away form would have us staying up in 17th place on goal difference. I think the negativity of our tactics was especially frustrating.
While we are on the subject of away games, the ticket allocation taken by the club was a spit in the face to all loyal fans. thankfully I haven't been effect this season by it but a number of fans have and for owners that claim to have the fans at heart it has been disgraceful behaviour.
Our approach and attitude to the cup competitions was a massive negative. There is no evidence to say you will do worse in the league just by taking the cups seriously, For every Wigan there is a Swansea or a Bradford. West Ham are a club with a proud history in the cups and i'd like to see that taken more seriously in future.
We have a number of players that although i'm not suggesting they don't do anything right, we really need to improve on and have to be a negative this season, Taylor, O'Neil, Vaz te, Carlton Cole, have all under performed for the most part this season each to varying degrees, the insistance on sticking with these far too long was frustrating to us watching - I can only imagine what it is like for those ready and willing to replace them.
Nolan would also be in the bracket of those above, apart from respect to his goal scoring. the fact is that however much you might love his popping up with a goal he far too often is carried by the other players and is rarely subbed and never dropped.
The lack of youth brought through this season is a concern - not because we don't have any, but the lack of faith given to those we do. The obvious one is Rob Hall who is a talent, he had a good loan spell in the Championship and yet was still getting overlooked in place of people like Taylor. His treatment is the reason he is likely to leave and the reason others are considering their future. I honestly believe that if he and some of our others had been at other clubs they would have had a number of first team games under their belt.
Might be seen as a silly negative especially when we consider our league position. However I think we all agree that we get up for games against 6 teams more than we do others. those 6 are Man utd and City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs. Some more so than others, but there is a reason these are Cat A games. However out of a possible 36 points from these games we got 6 - 1 win and 3 draws. Are we the Graham Hick of the Premier League? Of course we need to beat the teams around us but I'd like to see us compete more in these games, whether it is down to negative tactics or sitting back on a lead is the reason is up for debate, but something we would all like to see improved.
The strange signings that cost others a place in the squad. Pogatetz, Chamakh, Paulista to name 3. wasteful loans that added nothing to the team and kept more deserving players out. I would add Maiga to the list, not that i think he was a poor signing, just that he has been under used for the promise he has shown on the rare occasions he was given playing time.
It may seem crass and pointless to state negatives after position wise we have had an excellent return. But we can always improve no matter how great people say we are. I've tried to be as fair and as balanced as I can and I know I haven't covered all the points in either column so feel free to add your own or agree and disagree wth any of mine.