Hammer Fan Blog: West Ham must change their style of football

Style of play must change if the Hammers are to survive

Under normal circumstances a point at Ewood Park with a depleted side would be viewed as a job well done, but these are not ordinary times for Avram Grant; and his West Ham side (to coin a phrase from one of his predecessors) need to get some three-pointers on the board if anything at all is to be salvaged from a season that increasingly appears doomed to failure.

It is a cast iron certainty that it will end in failure if the status quo remains.

The game itself played out in familiar fashion for the loyal fans that had made the arduous trip to Lancashire in horrendous weather. West Ham started slowly, and continued at pedestrian pace until falling behind to a scruffy opening goal. Only then did Hammers awake from their slumber and play at a tempo befitting of the English Premier League. Lo & behold, an equaliser came and a winner might have followed.

Successive managers have attempted to employ a more sophisticated, continental approach at the club, and successive managers have failed.

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An approach where possession is king and patience is of the upmost importance is all well and good when you have a Xavi or an Andres Iniesta to turn probing in front of the opposition’s back four into a goalscoring opportunity in the blink of an eye with a defence splitting pass.

In the absence of these (and nine other world class) players, the passing simply goes from side to side until harried sufficiently by the opposition to see the ball returned to defenders or goalkeeper, who in turn play a hopeful punt upfield which is almost invariably returned with interest by a grateful opposition.

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With the current composition of the West Ham squad, this approach has literally no redeeming features, and its continued employment is a source of befuddlement to most supporters at Upton Park.

All of Hammers best results in the last two seasons have come about when a more traditional English approach has been employed, playing in the faces of the opposition from first minute to last. High tempo, moving the ball quickly, not allowing opposition players time in possession, biting into tackles – all of these traits have, for many a year, enabled average players (not meant in a disparaging sense) to briefly touch levels far above and beyond that.

A case in point being the Carling Cup quarter final being against Manchester United. Even many Hammers fans feared the worst when the team was announced; yet it was through their approach, their harrying, their hassling, and the speed at which they moved the ball that the team were able to impose themselves on their more illustrious opponents.

That night is the benchmark, that night is the blueprint; but to witness the Hammers league performances since, supporters would be forgiven for thinking that it was a figment of their imagination.

No one is na�ve enough to suggest that a simple change in approach & attitude will see this Hammers squad become world-beaters, but it would at least ensure that the rest of the squad get up to speed with what Scott Parker has been doing off his own back for a season and a half.

Eleven players playing at the same tempo, with the same heart as Scott Parker? Maybe we shouldn’t write this campaign off just yet… Merry Christmas

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