With one win in their last 13 Premier League matches, and a humiliating 5-0 loss at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup on Sunday, Sam Allardyce and his West Ham team find themselves under enormous pressure.
They currently sit one place above the bottom of the Premier League table, and must improve quickly if they are to avoid relegation to the Championship.
The club need to find some stability and January will prove to be a huge month for the Hammers. West Ham have started the New Year terribly, losing 2-1 at Fulham on New Year’s day, before the thrashing at Forest at the weekend. They have five more games this month to try and turn things around, but failure to win any of those will leave Allardyce’s men with a mountain to climb.
Yesterday, the club issued a statement backing manager Sam Allardyce, but that dreaded vote of confidence will not take any pressure off ‘Big Sam’, and he knows that he must turn things around quickly if he is to stay in the job.
West Ham co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan believe Allardyce is still the right man for the job and have stated so in an open letter on Monday: “We know Sam has not lost his ambition or desire and is committed to making West Ham United a great Premier League club”.
They went on to discuss transfer objectives for the January transfer window. "January is not an easy time to do business but we are pleased to confirm we are close to securing one of our key striking targets," they explained. “A defender is high on the list of priorities as well and progress is being made on that front."
The Hammers have secured a loan deal for Wolves defender Roger Johnson, which will instantly boost an injury-hit back line. Johnson joins the club for the remainder of the season, and is expected to be in the side that travels to Manchester City on Wednesday night for the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final.
West Ham will need more reinforcements if they are to retain their Premier League status, as injuries have pulled the squad apart, but without extra additions to ease Allardyce’s woes, it is difficult to see where the much-needed wins will come from.
Record-signing Andy Carroll is yet to make an appearance this season, but he is being tipped to make his long awaited return.
SkySports report the striker is in contention to make the bench at the weekend after resuming to training.
Sam Allardyce said: "Andy Carroll is training and hopefully we'll see him on the bench in the next week or so."
They travel to Cardiff on Saturday in a vital game for both clubs. Cardiff will be confident after their impressive 2-1 win at Newcastle in the FA Cup on Saturday, in what was new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first game.
The home crowd will be right behind their new man for his first home game, and West Ham face a tough task trying to walk away with 3 points here. Cardiff sit two places above the Hammers, and are currently 3 points clear, doubling this would leave Allardyce’s men in big trouble.
The Hammers then play Newcastle at home on the following Saturday, before hosting Manchester City for the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final three days later. They finish the month with a tough trip to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday 29 January.
With this tricky schedule, it is tough to see where the wins will come from. West Ham must improve their home form if they are to survive, and the next two league games at Cardiff and then at home to Newcastle are big games for the club.
It is set to be a difficult month for West Ham, and with a small squad, the games will only become tougher each week. It is essential that they continue to strengthen in the transfer window, as they find themselves in the thick of the relegation dogfight.
image: © Matthew Black