Filed: Wednesday, 6th November 2013
By: Paul Walker
Big Sam should be preparing for the worst and formulating plans for the rest of the season that assumes Andy Carroll will not be involved.
He should be moving heaven and earth to get Jermain Defoe back, and only going for Demba Ba as a last resort.
I am sure, like me, you are all sick to the back teeth with the Carroll saga. Now it seems that there has been another set-back that has halted his rehab. A virus has wrecked any thoughts that he could be back before new year.
Allardyce insists that Carroll will need a month to regain full fitness, which could take us to the end of January. By then we will be two thirds of the way into the season, with just a dozen or so league matches for Carroll to play.
By then we could be deep in relegation trouble. So Sam should not be banking on Carroll’s return as our salvation.
I sense that Defoe’s return would be welcomed by far more of our fans than some think. I don’t really care about what he did in 2003. The timing was poor and he was ill-advised, but plenty more players than him have jumped ship after relegation.
Demba Ba for one. From us. We gave him a lifeline when a string of failed medicals looked like wrecking his career. But the first hint of folding stuff from Newcastle, and a release clause David Sullivan admits he should never have allowed, and Ba was off.
Loyalty is rare in football, but Ba then pushed acceptable standards of behaviour to the limits by turned over Newcastle and jumped ship for a massive wage rise at Chelsea. And when he could have come back to the Boleyn in the summer, he was happy to sit on the bench at Chelsea and draw his mega bucks wages. As mercenaries go, he is pretty near the top of the list, and would his cold- blooded attitude improve if he did return to Upton Park? I doubt it.
Now nothing happens in football these days without a reason. So to see Defoe praising "the club he still loves" - us - and saying how sorry he is that things worked out the way they did, suggests he is angling for a move back to the East End.
The reasons seem obvious. He has been told he can find a new club in January, and will clearly be only a bit part player at Spurs for the rest of the season if he doesn‘t. And with a World Cup coming up, he cannot afford that.
It could damage his chances of being in the England squad in Brazil. And fanciful suggestions that he could go to States in January would kill his international career stone dead. Roy Hodgson would not even consider taking a player in MLS to Brazil.
So Defoe needs to be playing regularly and to maintain his form. He is unlikely to get a move to a top six club, so returning to West Ham is now more appealing. There were rumours he was an Allardyce target in the summer after a 'chance' meeting in a London restaurant.
Everyone denied the significance of that, and Allardyce said the player's wages were out of his price range. But you can bet that it was suggested to Defoe that he needed to make peace with West Ham fans first. Hence this week's remarkably honest interview. We should bite his hand off.
We are suffering badly for the transfer deadline day shambles with every minute that passes in our league programme. Really bad mistakes were made to ruin what had been a pretty impressive summer of business. Carroll, Stewart Downing and the solid and reliable Razvan Rat were all good signings.
But everyone knew we needed a couple of new strikers, but the board and the manager failed to make that happen, and we have suffered the consequences ever since. We ended up with Carlton Cole and Mladen Petric. There are always reasons why players fail to find new clubs before the window shuts, and we are all now seeing why because both are way short of full fitness and are not going to solve our problem any time yet.
That is a shame because we have a goalkeeper playing out of his skin, and a defence with the third best goals against record in the division plus a couple of midfielders who have been outstanding in Ravel Morrison and Mark Noble.
Up front things are very different and many feel we are sleep-walking into a dangerous situation while the belief still exists that we will be fine once Carroll is back. Seemingly now, not any day soon.
Hindsight is easy, and the anti-Carroll brigade are in full flow claiming he’s a waste of money. That‘s nonsense. Remember how we all sang "Andy Carroll we want you to stay” at the final game of last season, ironically the match that saw him pick up the heel injury that has sidelined him every since.
If the cap fits: Defoe to West Ham is the obvious choice, says Paul Walker
If you want to buy current England players, then you have to pay the going rate. Trouble is, we could only afford one such player. Spurs and Manchester City were able to spend more that £100m each, that’s the way it is.
And I still think buying Downing was correct, we have seen enough of him to know that he can supply plenty of ammunition for Carroll from the flanks.
But so far that has not been able to happen, and we are sinking into a relegation fight. And even if our owners put their hands deep into their pockets in January, we are still controlled by the new unfair Fair Play rules which do nothing more that maintain the status quo and stop smaller clubs from ever challenging the giants of the game.
It makes me realise that we are all being fed a lie when owners outside the top six talk of one day reaching the Champions League. There was a time when I felt we had teams capable of winning the title, not now.
The Bobby Moore era had the players of quality if not the consistency and strength of character. On into the 70s the teams of Trevor Brooking, Alan Devonshire and Billy Bonds should have done far better than they did. Then there was the 80s and the boys of '86, who came the closest in our history.
Then the team of '98, including Joe Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Paolo Di Canio, Frank Lampard and Trevor Sinclair, managed a fifth place finish. But we all know that it should have been much, much better had these stars not been systematically sold off.
Bur since then, there has been nothing to even challenge really, just relegations and financial crisis. It will not get much better in my view, so I flinch now when I see owners spinning the line that one day the Champions League is possible. But I am nearly 65 and am beginning realise that I will not see us ever reaching the world of the big boys.
But that is history, this is now and we are left these days with little more to hope for that staying in the division and maybe having a cup run. It made me very angry after the defeat by Manchester City. They were so, so much better than us and you start feeling just why we bother because genuine success is just a pipe dream.
But we are all here because we love the club and our history. And owners know we are all trapped with nowhere else to go. So at least save us from yet another relegation battle, because we are very close to being hauled into one.
The season has not started well. Sam reckons we are six points short of what we should be. Last season after ten games we had 15 points, this time it is ten from ten.
Even more worrying is the like-for-like statistics. If you compare our results so far with those against the same teams last term it is becoming very worrying.
You have to replace results against relegated clubs (Wigan and QPR) in our opening ten games this season with results against promoted teams (Cardiff and Hull), and we have taken ten points from those ten games this season, compared to 17 from ten in the last campaign.
We avoided relegation by ten points last term so we are already seven points worse off. It’s getting too close for comfort, so come home Jermain, all will be forgiven if you keep us up.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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