Hammer Fan Blog: Ba showed his importance for West Ham

“Ba showed enough to suggest that there is hope”

In a week where the OPLC’s decision to award preferred-bidder status to the club has potentially altered the landscape of the club’s future permanently, it may seem odd for the focus to be elsewhere; but the decision represents a first step on a longer journey, and there is much time to consider that verdict and its possible impact.

That’s not to ignore the excellent work of Karren Brady, in particular, nor is it to understate the enjoyment of a second victory over Tottenham on home turf this season; but of more pressing concern at present is the ongoing fight for Premier League survival that was aided little by a 3-3 draw at fellow strugglers West Brom on Saturday.

It’s true that the spirited second half fightback might be seen as boding well for the future but the harsh reality for Hammers supporters is that they found themselves 3-0 down inside 20 minutes against poor opposition on a wretched run of form, and have taken one point from back-to-back games against relegation rivals.

Conceding three goals throws up a series of very obvious questions about the quality of the defence and how much protection they receive from those in front of them – supporters will hope that at least some of the problems will be answered by the return of Matthew Upson and James Tomkins – but these are long standing issues that no one at the club has addressed in spite of repeated warnings.

Rather than shoring up the defence and midfield to make the Hammers a difficult team to beat, the January transfer window was mostly spent enhancing firepower through the additions of Robbie Keane and Demba Ba.

It’s an extremely risky, and somewhat puzzling, strategy; but on his full debut – with Keane having already joined the Upton Park walking wounded – Ba showed enough to suggest that there is hope.

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The Senegalese frontman was nothing short of sensational in bagging a brace, which could so easily have been a hat trick, and he looks to be a genuine star in the making.

It’s clear that whatever the shortcomings of Grant and his squad, it’s imperative to get the first eleven fit and keep them that way for the remainder of the season.

Only then will the Hammers’ long-suffering support look to the remaining fixtures with any sort of confidence. Upcoming fixtures against Liverpool and Stoke are followed by an extremely tough run, so at this stage a minimum of four points from those two matches appears to be essential.

There is time, and there is still belief, that the Hammers can climb away from the trouble that they themselves have caused; but both are in increasingly short supply now and if another great escape is to happen, it needs to start now.

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