May 24 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, August 18, 2012
West Ham Correspondent Dave Evans assesses the chance of the Hammers staying up this season and studies the importance of a good start
The words of the song are right: ‘It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish’, but in Premier League football it is usually the start that determines just whereabouts that finish is likely to be.
Despite that 1-0 home defeat on the opening day of last season against Cardiff City, Championship-chasing West Ham managed to glean 13 points from their first six games and in the end that start helped them to eventually reach third place in the table and go on to win promotion.
It seems that the beginning of the season has a definite correlation with where the Hammers finally finish.
Few of us could forget 2010/11 when Avram Grant’s Hammers lost their first four games and didn’t win until late September.
That team finished rock bottom, while the previous campaign once again saw four points gained from the first six games, with a final placing just one spot above the relegation trapdoor.
As if to back that up, on the three occasions that West Ham have reached double figures in points from their opening six matches, they have finished ninth twice and 10th.
And so it is vital that the Hammers kick-start their campaign with a bang this time round.
Despite not finishing until May 19, manager Sam Allardyce and his staff decided that they needed the players back in sooner rather than later.
That idea emerged from the day the new fixtures were revealed and the prospect of a flying start this time round became a big possibility.
There are no easy games in the Premier League of course, but some are less difficult than others and avoiding the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool in their opening 10 fixtures is a huge bonus.
It means that the tougher tasks are yet to come, but if West Ham can make that flying start, then the points will be on the board, the pressure will be eased and the confidence will start to flow.
Looking at the players that have come in, there are certainly no star names.
Allardyce has opted for solid players to replace the likes of Abdy Faye and Papa Bouba Diop.
One thing is for sure, as always, Allardyce’s teams are going to be very hard to beat.
But will they survive? That is the big question.
On balance, the outlook looks favourable.
The style that Allardyce plays may well be better suited to the Premier League than it was to the Championship, especially at Upton Park where many teams will come to attack.
There are two keys to success this term. The first is finding the goals to win tight matches and that may be their biggest problem. The other is that start.
If they can crack that and reach double figures by the time Arsenal visit Upton Park on October 6, then they will stay up. Anything else will just be a bonus for everyone.