This is a busy week for me. It's Thanksgiving in the US, so I'm going to be drinking and eating much more than I should. Hopefully Fulham gives me something to be thankful for. West Ham United have been playing just about as bad as Fulham. Neither team can score and neither is playing great defense. Of course that probably portends to a 4-4 shoot out.
CC: I haven't watched a ton of West Ham matches this year, but what I have seen has been even less attractive than usual. The 4-6-0 has been especially hard to watch. How have the supporters taken to the tactics that the club have used this year?
Iron Views: The 4-6-0 formation made its debut in a memorable 3-0 win away at Tottenham. On that day, the tactic worked beautifully to counter Spurs' attacking play, and resulted in Ravel Morrison scoring one of the best West Ham goals in recent years. Since then, however, we've only scored in 2 out of 5 games - both of which we've ended up losing. The problem with 4-6-0 is that it no longer has the surprise element that was crucial in our win at White Hart Lane. If the opposition team are able to prepare for the game knowing we're not going to field a recognised striker, it makes beating us on the day a lot easier. Can you imagine what a bonus it is for central defenders if they don't have to face off against a known target man? Moreover, the likes of Stewart Downing and Matt Jarvis are wasted in this system as their numerous crosses are fired into an empty box. I was open to the idea at first, but practically it just doesn't work. We're not Barcelona after all.
CC: West Ham are currently tied with Fulham on points, have scored even fewer goals, and are only ahead by goal differential. Aside from the Tottenham match, they have only scored 6 times. Fulham fans are clamoring for Martin Jol's head at this point, are West Ham fans feeling the same about Sam Allardyce?
IV: For the first time since taking over in 2011, Sam Allardyce finds himself on very thin ice. After a more than comfortable return to the Premier League, fans were anticipating a further push up the table during this campaign, with even a few whispers of Europe creeping into Upton Park. However, things have taken a turn for the worse since then. With our only wins coming against Cardiff and Spurs, many supporters are starting to vent their frustration rather aggressively, with Sam Allardyce acting as the target point for most of this uproar. As I mentioned, his tactical stubbornness is confusing many, including myself, as our style of play is clearly reliant on a big man in the box. His decision to keep Nolan as the first name on the team sheet has also earned him significant stick. Without a target man to feed off, the former Newcastle midfielder is completely ineffective, and Allardyce's failure to acknowledge this is only worsening his relationship with the West Ham faithful. There are reports of a three game ultimatum, so if he fails to win one of the next games against Fulham, Palace and Liverpool, he may well be on his way. At this stage I'm backing him to turn it around, but many fans are already demanding a change in tenure.
CC: How worried are the supporters about relegation at this point? Is there confidence that Andy Carroll coming back and Allardyce figuring things out with some reinforcements in January? Or is there a real fear that relegation could happen?
IV: The fear of relegation is slowly but surely edging up on West Ham fans. Personally, I'm confident things will turn around before things are too late. Andy Carroll should be back to full fitness in the next month or so, while there's already talks of a move for Jermain Defoe in January. Our next three games are vital, but as long as we keep our heads up we have the squad to move up the table. The side is far more equipped than our relegated team of 2010 - 11, and although some would have you believe otherwise, Allardyce is no Avram Grant. You also have to consider that it's only November and we're less than a third of the way into the season. Changes are needed, but I'm backing the club to make them. We'll be fine eventually. I hope.
Projected lineup, and score prediction
CH: Score: 2-1 to West Ham
Lineup: Jussi, Demel, Collins, Tomkins O'Brien, Noble, Nolan, Morrison, Diame, Downing, C.Cole