Hammers fans blog: West Ham’s lack of mental strength is a worry
Failure to kill off teams is a major concern
Heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, maddeningly predictable.
If all of the above are true, it’s also important for Hammers’ fans to try and retain some perspective on the weekend’s events, if for no other reason than to remain relatively sane.
West Ham have not won away from Upton Park since the opening day of last season, Birmingham City have lost only once at St Andrew’s in 13 months, and only three teams have won there since Birmingham’s return to the Premier League.
So, if offered a point before kick-off, many would have taken it as a solid start to a critical week; and it’s a testament to how well Avram Grant’s men performed for the vast majority of an entertaining game that the eventual 2-2 scoreline felt more like a defeat. Having said that, whilst the positives from the game far outweigh the negatives in number – it’s the manner of the negatives, and the fact that it is those same negatives manifested time and again that causes supporters so much heartache.
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Tactical analyses, post-mortems and debates on who might be responsible dominate fans’ forums in the modern game; but all Hammers’ fans are united in their anxiety over the lack of mental fortitude displayed by a group of players who are, for the most part, experienced enough to handle pressure situations better.
Grant himself described his squad as a ‘psychologically troubled’ group at the end of August, and that he is yet to find a cure for their psychological ills is perhaps his biggest failing to date. The Israeli needs to find a way to free the players’ minds, quickly, if his squad is to climb the league table at any point.
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Home games in the space of four days against West Bromand Blackpool offer Grant and his team the perfect opportunity to contextualise the Birmingham result.
West Brom have surprised many with their excellent start to the season but arrive at Upton Park on the back of successive defeats, defeats that have included red cards for three important members of their side, although one has subsequently been rescinded. There hasn’t been a better time to play them and there is a feeling, even amongst their own, that their early bubble may have burst.
Similarly, Blackpool have impressed everybody with their approach this season, but they are prone to conceding goals and will not come to Upton Park seeking to shut up shop.
Seven points from the first week of November, out of the relegation zone, and looking upwards?
There can be no excuses for coming up short.
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