It has been a long time since I have written one of these and this has been a conscious decision. There seemed to be a real barrage of negative and unhelpful press at the moment. From the ladies team, to the players drinking at all hours and of course the team’s performance. If I am honest with you there are other negative stories that I could quite easily put out but it really isn’t constructive to do so at the moment. We all needed to get behind the team and try to create some positive press and thankfully this will happen now that we got the win at Palace. I am a huge fan and ultimately all I want is for the club to win and do as well as they can and unlike other sites we chose what news we feel is appropriate to put out as some things are better off being dealt with internally.
The Palace match feels like a real turning point. We played really well and the introduction of Cresswell is a massive boost for us. You could see that from his assist and support for Payet. The change of formation really suited the team and I am a firm believer of sticking with a winning team so I wouldn’t change it (unless enforced like Cresswell’s suspension). I thought Reid was outstanding, Obiang proving why I called and called for him on our radio show and I thought Kouyate was amazing in a position that he hasn’t played in this season.
Unfortunately defensively we will be missing Cresswell, Byram, Masuaku and Arbeloa for the Sunderland game. Cresswell’s suspension cannot be overturned because it needs to be a straight red before the club can appeal. The only way that they can appeal is if the referee admits to a mistake and knowing the ref in question this is not going to happen even though it clearly was. Byram suffered a bad hamstring strain and will be about for around 6-8 weeks, Masuaku should be back in a month and Arbeloa will not be available for a few weeks. I personally would continue with the same system and maybe play Feghouli as the left wing back, although I have no idea whether he has played there before. Bringing in Oxford or Collins and playing Ogbonna there could be another option.
Good news is that Ayew is progressing very well from his injury and is ahead of schedule for his comeback. He should start to train with the first time at the end of the month/start of the new one and this will be a massive boost for us. With Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho their return is much harder to predict. Both were meant to be available for the Palace game but the players and their injury situation have always been delicate because they are both so prone to it. Therefore I can’t predict and the club try to avoid estimating when they will be back.
The result and performance really showed how much the players back Bilic and support him. You could see by the performance, the reaction from the players to him and the comments in the interviews afterwards. This is very important to note and another good performance against Sunderland and things suddenly look very different for us.
The ladies situation has now changed with the club bringing them under the umbrella of the main club and with the old chairman Stephen Hunt leaving his position. There are expected to be many other changes brought in personnel (a new manager), playing staff and how the club is organised, all will hopefully have a positive impact for the West Ham ladies game.
The situation with Zaza is an interesting one because I thought he played well on Saturday and it was his best performance by a mile. I hope he retains his place against Sunderland where I hope he will score and I am sure will show lots of passion if he does. The problem is he only has about 10 games left now before we will have to sign him permanently for around £25m. Has he done enough to warrant that fee? At this point I would say no but if he was to suddenly get a few goals it is a tricky situation for the club to find itself in. Whatever happens with Zaza will dictate our January transfer window. We have clubs lined up that are willing to take Zaza should we cancel the loan deal and an early target list being drawn up by us. So far though no decision has been made on Zaza’s future.
Reece Oxford situation is an interesting one. The club decided against loaning him out this season because they felt he was going to feature more especially if we were still in Europe. Of course with our elimination he hasn’t figured much and is said to be quite frustrated. The club really want him to stay but this isn’t looking clear cut at the moment. There is a strong chance that we will now loan him out in the January window with a host of clubs interested including Newcastle and Aston Villa.
I am delighted that we have a positive feeling at the club now and I hope that this continues into the Sunderland game. I cannot wait to do our radio show on Wednesday as it is the first one we have done after a good performance, I have already chosen my song. I was delighted that the site got shortlisted for the FBAs best new blog award and would be so grateful for your votes. Please click here to do so: ctt.ec/4em0d
I have also been shortlisted for the best social media account for the second year and again any votes would be greatly received. ctt.ec/kHeuU
Let’s make sure we continue this positivity into the new stadium and hopefully build on the great performance at Palace. If you would like to discuss this column or that match more please visit our forum! COYI