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By Chris Wilkerson, London24’s West Ham blogger
Thursday, October 11, 2012
A little over two years ago West Ham’s board proclaimed the fans would be amazed by the signing of an international who scored at the recently finished 2010 World Cup.
Name: Chris Wilkerson
Twitter handle: @The_Wilkerson
Favourite player: Mark Noble or Winston Reid
Most memorable game: Playoff Final
Predicted finish: 12th
The rumour mill did as it does, with names spewed left, right and centre. We wondered whether we were pulling off a giant coup, a Tevez/Mascherano shock transfer and the signing of a worldwide superstar.
This all lead to a rather unfair reaction to the man who walked into the club and signed a contract to play for West Ham United. Unfortunately for Winston Reid, the potential names in our heads rather overshadowed his arrival, and left transfer window dreamers a little underwhelmed.
Come the first day of the season Reid was shunted out to right back and exposed in a new league, suffering badly as Aston Villa tore Avram Grant’s side apart. That day stuck long in the memories of the fans, and Reid’s season was one to forget within a nightmare campaign for the side.
Last season began with Faye and Tomkins as the first choice pairing, but as time passed Reid took his chances and grew into a dominant defender, strong in the air and assured with the ball at his feet. Whilst Tomkins was often moved into midfield, Reid’s season soon became characterised by his ability to step out of defence, intercept and play from the back.
His continued growth culminated with a moment for West Ham fans to treasure; a scorching volley to decide the derby with Millwall at Upton Park.
But still, with Premier League status secured, much of the talk was about James Tomkins showing his potential on the big stage, and when James Collins arrived a partnership was expected to flourish. But Tomka has been third choice, and whilst Collins has already had a good few scary moments, Winston has carried on playing like the step up never fazed him.
Guy Demel has impressed, but it’s clear that the New Zealand international Reid has been the best man in our back five. Even against Arsenal with back spasms Reid soldiered on, and it appears the only thing that can stop him performing this season is a sharp right from Jussi Jaaskelainen.
As last week I heralded the impact of Mark Noble this season, today I congratulate Winston Reid on not only his recovery from a horrendous start in claret and blue, but his continued development and assured performances. Arguably, Winston Reid at only 24 years old is our most prized defensive asset and a guaranteed name on every prospective starting line-up. Considering the Avram year, considering the glow of the academy that shines on Tomkins and considering the experience of James Collins, this is an achievement we should really start to recognise.
Whereas last time out in the Premier League our defence lacked brains, brawn and leadership, Reid has given us everything Matthew Upson forgot, and a whole lot more, and quite possibly is the key to our survival.