Tony Cottee Column: Four matches could decide West Ham’s future

Next four matches could go a long way in deciding the Hammers’ season

Only once in 18 years of the Premier League has a team bottom at Christmas survived the drop.

West Brom are the sole holders of that particular honour and it is looking likely if West Ham are to finish in the bottom three, they must join Albion’s exclusive club.

There is no doubt it will be a tough task, but by the time the Hammers face Barnsley in the FA Cup on January 8, West Ham could be well clear of the drop zone.

There are four league matches between now and with all of them winnable, I believe the club should stick with boss Avram Grant at least until the New Year.

Credit must go to David Gold and David Sullivan who have publically backed Grant on a regular basis and not been trigger happy like Newcastle have been.

They have stuck to their principles and instinct that the Israeli is the man to do the job for them.

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Ultimately there will be a time when major changes must be made, but not yet.

These four games are crucial and if Grant does manage to take say 10 points, nobody will be talking about his future at the club.

He has asked for more funds to sign players and with the injury crisis currently taking hold of the club, you cannot blame him.

You must have sympathy for him, with Jack Collison, Mark Noble and Valon Behrami all key players and all missing through injury.

I still don’t see it as an excuse why we lost to City. We were competing against a side who have spent more money over the past three months then West Ham have in their 125 year history.

It was always going to be a tough match and beforehand I said it would be great if we could leave with a draw and I am not wholly surprised we lost.

Creativity and pushing men into the box was again an issue and the only games when I can remember we did so on a consistent basis was the matches against Birmingham City and Manchester United.

It is something that you have to work at in training.When I was at West Ham we used to practice getting the ball to Mark Ward who would cross it in and runners from midfield would bust a gut to get into the box.

You can train all you like, but is down to individuals to make it work on the day. For example there is no point Scott Parker busting his gut to get into the box if say Pablo Barrera tries to beat a man rather then putting an early ball in.

It comes down to making sure players pick up good habits.

One way of doing so is sticking to the same formation and team for as long as possible.

It would be great if Avram sticks to a 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 formation decide who is best XI are and stick with them for a while.

It would give the side stability and let them get used to formations and what their roles are within the team andd will surely lead to more positive results on the pitch.

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