RBM spoke with LBC 97.3 Radio presenter and West Ham United fanatic Iain Dale, who also runs the blog West Ham Till I Die. We asked him for his opinions on a wide variety of subjects ahead of Everton's visit this weekend.
Is there any danger of second season syndrome for the Hammers?
Of course there is. But I don’t think it will happen unless we really can’t score a goal between now and Christmas. We haven’t conceded in three of our four games so far and defensively look very sound. Winston Reid and James Collins are one of the best central defensive partnerships in the league and Joey O’Brien has been outstanding for us even though he is playing out of position at left back.
What do you make of your transfer business over the summer?
Had we signed a good second striker we’d have all been very happy. To get Andy Carroll was fantastic, but of course we all know what has happened since then. It really was mad not to get in a top class second striker but no one would come because they know Sam Allardyce plays one up front and no one wanted to play second fiddle. So we are now in the ludicrous situation of having to play Modibo Maiga who is about as threatening as a powderpuff. We’ve signed Mladen Petric on a free and Carlton Cole may return, but for the foreseeable future we’re going to have to rely on our midfielders to chip in.
Are you happy with Sam Allardyce?
Generally yes, but see above. He has got the team better organised than any West Ham team I have ever seen. The long ball accusations are overdone. Yes, we can play long ball, but only at times of necessity. We’ve become a much harder team to beat.
What are your expectations for the season?
Last season we finished tenth. In theory we have a slightly stronger squad than last year, especially in defence and midfield. Being West Ham we always fear being dragged into the relegation dogfight, but I am very hopeful that we could finish at least tenth. If Petric can provide the goals we lack at the moment we could finish a little higher.
We’re both struggling to score goals, what’s at the root of it for West Ham?
I’ve covered this above really. We had the chance to sign Wilfried Bony from Vitesse and he’s gone to Swansea City and scored 4 in 4. I’d have liked us to sign Jordan Rhodes and I think he was an Everton target too. I really think he could do well in the Premier League.
What’s your honest appraisal of Andy Carroll?
Last season he was Man of the Match in virtually every game he played. He has never been prolific, but what he does for the team is often underestimated. He wins most headers he goes for, he’s got a great first touch and isn’t afraid to try the spectacular.
And finally, how’s the game going to go on Saturday?
I think it will be tight. Everton are a bit of a bogey team for us, and your tails will be up from the victory over Chelsea. I think it might be quite a physical game and one which will be won by a single goal. Nikica Jelavic will probably score the winner because we tried to sign him before he went to Goodison. It would be just our luck.
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