Tony Cottee column: West Ham should have too much class for Doncaster

“They play in a nice new stadium and it is one of the away games that you expect West Ham to go out there and win”

It was a very disappointing start to the season for West Ham and it was not what I was expecting.

I was at Upton Park for the game and I thought that the team started nervously, which is understandable, as many of the players haven’t played in the Championship before, so it was a new experience for them.

The fans definitely played their part in welcoming the team and after the first 15 minutes we settled down and looked like quite a dangerous side, creating chances and controlling the game.

However, we failed to score when we were on top and ultimately we paid the price in the 91st minute when Kenny Miller grabbed the winner for Cardiff.

I think that Sunday showed that if you don’t score when you get the chance in the Championship then you can live to regret it.

Some fans have been quick to blame Sam Allardyce’s system, but I felt there was nothing wrong.

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Allardyce claimed that he played 4-3-3, but at some points it didn’t work like that.

I feel that Freddie Piquionne is not the right man to lead the attack for the Hammers.

The role of the front man is to hold the play up and win the ball and I think that Carlton Cole or John Carew are much better at that.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Piquionne is a good player, the role is just not for him.

If Cole was to play there, then the system would work. He is strong and wins the ball in the air and is good at bringing others into play.

The three debutants on Sunday were impressive, but for me one of them really stood out. That was Matt Taylor.

I thought he had an excellent first game and deserved to be named man of the match.

He gave us that balance on the left, which we have been missing since we sold Matty Etherington.

Joey O’Brien did exactly how I expected. He did the simple things really well, was strong in defence and got forward too.

Out of the three debutants, I feel Kevin Nolan was the most disappointing.

He is a great player and he showed flashes of brilliance, but he was too in and out of the game for me.

The loss was harsh on the team, and some may blame Rob Green for not saving Miller’s shot, but I don’t think that you can.

There will be times this season, as there has been in every campaign, where Green produces world-class saves that win you games, so I think it will even itself out.

The club has to look forward and we still have 45 games to play. Just look at two seasons ago, when Norwich lost their first game of the season 7-1. They then went on to get promoted.

This weekend gives the Hammers the perfect opportunity to put things right at Doncaster.

They play in a nice new stadium and it is one of the away games that you expect West Ham to go out there and win.

Doncaster play nice football, which will suit us, but I think we will have too much class for them.

With the injuries to their front men I expect us to go there and get the win.

If we can compete and win the battles on the pitch then we will take home the three points.

The only change to the side I would make is to replace Piquionne with Cole in the Hammers’ attack.

Other than that, I thought our defence looked solid and the midfield three is the best in the Championship.

Tony Cottee was talking to

Nathaniel John

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