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West Ham: Why mid-table mediocrity is the way forward

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For most other football fans it was a day dominated by Chelsea becoming the first London club to win the European Cup, but it was easy to forget that another area of the capital had something to celebrate on May 19th 2012.

Perhaps West Ham’s Championship play-off final victory over Blackpool at Wembley was ‘easy to forget’ because the Hammers had always seemed to be a top flight club, regardless of their relegation under everyone’s favourite life of the party Avram Grant in 2011.

As opposed to the likes of Blackpool whose stopovers in the top flight have always been brief ones, West Ham have always regarded themselves as a big club who should feel at home amongst the elite and not be fearful of them.

There is nothing wrong with that of course, but at times it has seemed as though the club are fixated on running before they can walk, on aiming high only to end up disappointed.

This season they have taken back to Premier League life with a minimum of fuss, winning eight, drawing six and losing 11 of their 25 fixtures to find themselves 11th in the table. They have never really looked to be in serious relegation danger and now nine points ahead of 18th-placed Wigan following Saturday’s win over Swansea they don’t look like being in trouble any time soon.

Whereas the ‘running before you can walk’ tag can be labelled at London rivals Queens Park Rangers this season, Sam Allardyce’s West Ham have simply done enough to impress onlookers without overstretching themselves.

The signings of Jussi Jaaskelainen, Matt Jarvis and Mohamed Diame were all clever ones, whilst Allardyce pleased fans by granting Joe Cole a Hammers homecoming in January, with the former England midfielder expected to flesh out the squad and offer his guile and experience where needed.

It was another arrival from Liverpool who produced headlines in August though, and whilst injury hasn’t allowed Andy Carroll to make the kind of impact he’d have hoped for since his switch to Upton Park it is his move which has certainly been the most intriguing.

Unlike with plenty of the big money transfer deals seen throughout the Premier League, Carroll’s switch from Anfield is still a temporary one for now, and it is this move which showcases just why West Ham are fine being where they are at the moment.

Should, as now looks likely, the Hammers end the season in the middle reaches of the table then the money generated from both that position and the well-publicised new Premier League television deal will allow them to kick on and look to perhaps make Carroll’s signing a permanent one if they wish – maybe for around £15m.

Even if they don’t want to sanction such an outlay for the forward they will at least have that money there to spend on other targets, and you can be sure that Allardyce will be determined to spend that money wisely and not fritter it away as has been seen elsewhere.

West Ham just needed this season get into that position though. A season where previous ups and downs were forgotten about and consolidation in the top flight could be achieved.

They aren’t safe yet of course, and could even find themselves drawn closer to the foot of the table given that four of their next seven fixtures are against Tottenham, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, but you have to believe that they’ll pick up enough points to ensure a safe distance between them and bottom three.

It might not be as glamorous as some would want, and it is likely to leave Hammers fans waiting a while to see their team on Match Of The Day, but this approach is just what their club needed in a first season back in the big time.

Next season they could really reap the benefits.

@Mark_Jones86

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Premier League: January Transfer Window on its hinges…

The team behind @FourFourTweet are not a bad lot at all!!

Many thanks to @jonnywarburton for submitting this post on the January Transfer Window. Great article. Drop a comment below for your thoughts on the current window- who do you want your team to sign… and who do you think they actually will ?? (If any!)

January transfer window takes shape as clubs start to splash the cash.

Premier League sides scour the market in an attempt to bolster squads ahead of the deadline day.

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With less than a week to go until the January transfer window slams shut, Premier League sides are scrambling around in hope of acquiring some of the hottest properties on the continent. Often transfer values vary from the abnormal to the crazy however some managers have found value for money in the hope of becoming more competitive.

The first significant piece of business involved Daniel Sturridge, a highly rated forward whose career had stagnated at Chelsea. The £12millon transfer to Liverpool has proven to be the most expensive transfer fee up to now. The highly rated star has seen valuable playing time early on in his Liverpool career to help relinquish the pressures on Luis Suarez in providing an attacking threat.

Outgoing from Liverpool has seen Joe Cole return home to West Ham United on a free transfer. After a stint in Ligue 1 last season, Cole had failed to make a real positive impact at Anfield which led to Cole becoming available for transfer. The second spell at West Ham has seemed to reignite his play with two clever assists against Manachester United in the F.A Cup Third Round.

With the transfer of Sturridge to Liverpool, Chelsea were in the market for a striker to compete with out of sorts Fernando Torres. Demba Ba was the chosen man seemingly inevitable that he would leave during the window from Newcastle United due to the £7.5million release clause lying in his contract. The strong forward joined the European champions early in the window and seems to be enjoying his time there by providing two goals on his debut.

The most active club so far in the transfer window has been Newcastle United who have brought in four French players to add to their current crop of stars. Mathieu Debuchy, Yoan Gouffran, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Massadio Haidara have been added to the squad for a little over £15million. The quartet are joining the side hovering above the relegation zone and the Tynesiders will be hoping the signings will help boost the clubs fortunes.

Bottom of the pile QPR added Marseille forward Loic Remy for £8million in an attempt to fire them away from the relegation zone come may. The striker destined for St James Park opted to move to London after significant talks with Tony Fernandes and Harry Redknapp. The player showed his eye for goal through a debut strike away at West Ham United. QPR will be hoping to find more success in the market over the next couple of days.

Manchester United announced the £15million signing of England international Wilfried Zaha from promotion hopefuls Crystal Palace. The winger will return to the London side for the rest of the campaign in a bid to promote his current side. The promising attacker will provide stiff competition with the current crop of wingers at Old Trafford as he makes the step up to the Premier League at the start of next season.

Expect plenty of deadline day deals as this January transfer window finally takes shape. Who will overspend and who won’t spend at all, are the questions many football fans are asking as they hope their club make the signings necessary to improve their fortunes.

By @jonnywarburton

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