Tony Cottee Column: An FA Cup run is exciting but this season is all about promotion

“I have always been a fan of Freddie Sears, but he hasn’t performed well enough.”

Another cup and another early exit for West Ham and I have to say that I am bitterly disappointed at Sunday’s result. It is not good for the club that we are not in the hat for the fourth round, and coupled with the first-round exit in the league cup, this season has not been the best for the Hammers.

However, having said that, the old saying is true, this season was not about going on cup runs, it was only ever about promotion back to the Premier League and now the team can focus on that important goal and concentrate on the Championship.

No matter what competition the game is being played in though, you still like to see your team win.

Although Sam Allardyce chose to put out a relatively inexperienced side, it did include the likes of John Carew, Gary O’Neil, Jack Collison and George McCartney and that team should have been good enough to at least have got a draw.

However, some of the more senior players didn’t step up when they were called upon, and it was promising to see some of the youngsters like Rob Hall and Brian Montenegro given a chance to show what they could do.

I have always been in favour of giving the kids a go if they are good enough and Hall looks like a very exciting prospect for West Ham.

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Sadly, one youngster who has been given numerous chances but just hasn’t performed well enough is Freddie Sears.

I have always been a fan of Freddie’s, but he is now getting towards the stage in his career where he needs to be playing week in, week out, and unfortunately that just isn’t happening at West Ham, and I would not be surprised if he goes out on loan this month.

Sam Baldock missed a penalty on Sunday but I know that he has the ability to bounce back.

He is only just returning from injury and the more match time that he gets, his sharpness and finishing will return, I am sure of that and I look forward to him continuing his partnership with Carlton Cole.

This weekend the Hammers head down to Portsmouth, who have been strong at home this season.

It is always a great atmosphere down there and once again it will be another tough away game.

I know that Allardyce will pick our strongest team available after resting some players last week and it will be good to see talents like Matt Taylor coming back into contention.

I’m sure that Taylor won’t play from the start against Pompey as he is only just coming back from injury, but it will be good to see him along with the likes of Abdoulaye Faye among the squad again.

The returning players will only make the squad stronger, and with two or three additions planned for this month, I think the Hammers will have the making of a real Championship-winning team come the end of the transfer window.

However first things first, West Ham need to win on Saturday and with their returning first-team players, I think that they will be too strong for a resilient Pompey side.

It won’t be easy, but I think the Hammers will get the three points.

Tony Cottee was talking to Nathaniel John

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