The S J Chandos Column
Last night’s victory over Spurs was a real shot in the arms for the club and our supporters. As Iain has stated, it certainly was very much a game of two halves and in the first half we got caught out defensively twice to fall 2-0 behind. Many must have thought ‘here we go again.’ But if you have followed West Ham long enough, you know that they are often just as likely to fight back as capitulate. Indeed, the second half proved to be a very different story and Ayew’s goal poaching instincts brought us back in to the game. By the time Ogbonna scored the winner, with his skilful glancing header, we were well in the ascendency. And in the last 15 minutes we dug in to deliver a great come back victory. Revenge is always that bit sweeter against Spurs and every Hammers fan will have enjoyed their humbling at Wembley.
There is no doubt that the come back was very much based on Ayew’s ability to arrive in the final third and score vital goals. Ayew has that crucial ability, but as with much of West Ham’s play, it is always about making the best of our players talents. Ayew has taken some vicious criticism for recent performances, but one must ask whether that is because he has been played out of position. For me, Ayew has always been a goal scoring midfielder and this evening he demonstrated just how well he can play that role. Goal scoring midfielders are worth their weight in gold and we arguably have one. So lets play to his strengths in future.
Similarly, many fans on social media owe Mark Noble a big apology. He was immense yesterday evening, holding the side together in that shaky first half and bossing the play through midfield in the crucial, winning, second half. Noble gets a lot of unfair criticism, but he gave the perfect answer to his critics yesterday evening. Will they learn from it? Probably, at least until they need an handy scapegoat after the next poor result.
However, hopefully that next poor result will not happen for a while, this inspirational victory should re-energise the spirit of the squad and give them renewed confidence. After yesterday evening, the players should be ‘champing at the bit’ to take on crystal Palace and deliver a much needed away PL victory. The truth is no one really wants a change of management in mid-season, that is always risky in the extreme. As such, I am more than happy to see Bilic lead the team back up the PL table. I do not believe in change for the sake of it, especially when the replacement is not particularly guaranteed to be a better or more knowledgeable a manager than his predecessor. There are undoubtedly better managers than Bilic out there, but I am not sure that we are currently able to attract them to the club. So, if he can keep winning lets stick with what we have. You know it makes sense.
Regardless, the players should feel proud of that second half performance. It shows that they can do it, they just need to be set up right. We have a talented squad, one good enough to finish in the top 10 of the PL. We are now also in the final 16 of the League Cup (or whatever it is currently called). Suddenly, things do not seem so bad for Bilic and his squad. If he could just manage to win a cup and finish in a decent position in the PL, this season, then perhaps Bilic could actually continue managing the club? However, we all know it is now about consistency and putting a winning run together. If we can manage that then Bilic’s job prospects might be positively transformed.
We all know stranger things have happened!