May 25 2013 Latest news:
By Dan Mobbs
Monday, February 25, 2013
West Ham’s return to the Premier League after their solitary season in the Championship has been handled with the sort of steely calm usually associated with Sam Allardyce.
Avoiding the desperate scrap for survival, the Hammers have found themselves comfortably nestling in mid-table obscurity and occasionally flirting with European qualification thanks to their eight league wins.
However, the Irons’ early season exuberance has since given way to a difficult patch of form – they have won only twice in nine games since the turn of the year, reducing their cushion above the relegation zone to seven points.
Now, with talk of Allardyce’s contract renewal being delayed until the end of the season, an uneasiness has begun to creep into West Ham’s play. To stop the rot, Sam Allardyce brought five new faces to the club in the January transfer window, with former Hammers hero Joe Cole returning to his first club on a free transfer from Liverpool.
He was joined by Wellington Paulista from Brazilian club Cruzeiro on a six-month loan deal, former Middlesbrough full-back Emanuel Pogatetz, 18-year-old striker Sean Maguire from Waterford United and Arsenal forward Marouane Chamakh, who is also on loan.
The additions add depth to a squad that had begun to look dangerously thin after a series of injuries, but not everyone was as pleased as Allardyce about the new faces.
Jack Sullivan, son of Hammers co-owner David, tweeted: “I am very sorry about this news Chamakh has sign a 6 month loan deal! not my pick” after the Morocco international’s arrival at the beginning of January.
While all the talk has been about the new signings, Allardyce appeared to be more concerned with Mohamed Diame’s decision to stay in east London.
The Senegal international only signed from Wigan in the summer, but his dynamic and energising play attracted the attention of a number of clubs in January.
Allardyce was suitably relieved to hold onto his midfield fulcrum:, stating: “The most important thing at the end of [the window] was probably keeping hold of Diame.”
His continued presence is sure to bolster West Ham’s attempts to re-establish themselves as a permanent Premier League fixture, but the Hammers fans are likely to be looking elsewhere on Monday as they relish Cole’s return after 10 years away from Upton Park.
Having made just six substitute appearances at Anfield in the first half of this season, the 31-year-old has started strongly with the Irons, scoring on his debut against QPR and setting up both goals in the 2-2 draw with Manchester United in the FA Cup.
“Joe’s main strength is opening teams up and we’ll give him the ball and tell him to go and do that for us,” said Allardyce. “If we can extract the best out of him again, it will be a fantastic signing. He’s coming home and it’s really great that he chose us.”