A year of two halves! - West Ham's 2014 in pictures

Upton Park

West Ham had quite a topsy-turvy 2014 - here's a look back at their year in pictures.

West Ham's 2014 got off to the worst possible start, as the Hammers slipped to a comprehensive 5-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup.

After a poor end to 2013, this was the last thing manager Sam Allardyce needed, but his weakened line-up for this game meant the criticism wasn't too harsh.

Still, the pressure was on, and he needed results - fast.

Yet somehow, it got worse.

West Ham traveled to face Manchester City just days later as they took part in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final at the Etihad Stadium - and it was even more humiliating than the defeat at Forest.

West Ham were 5-0 down within an hour, with the final scoreline finishing 6-0. With City then winning the second leg 3-0 at Upton Park, the Hammers were dumped out 9-0 on aggregate as fans called for Allardyce to go.

The relationship between the fans and Allardyce appeared to have hit breaking point in March, after West Ham beat 10-man Hull City 2-1 at home.

Fans were unhappy with the way West Ham had won the game, and booed the players off the pitch - despite the win. Allardyce responded by cupping his hand to his ear, before slamming his own supporters after the game.

"I've never been in a place where I've won and got booed," said Allardyce. "Fans affect players. We don't need them on players' backs when we are coming off three defeats. They have to stay and help them win."

Everything around the club was put into perspective in April though, as West Ham mourned the loss of reserve team striker Dylan Tombides.

Australian Tombides, 20, had been fighting testicular cancer since his first discovery back in 2011, and unfortunately lost his battle on April 18th.

Fans paid tribute to Tombides with a memorial outside the ground, whilst there was a minute's silence inside Upton Park as West Ham took on Crystal Palace in front of a sombre crowd.

Allardyce kept his job in the summer, and was armed with a raft of new signings - none bigger than the man above, Alex Song.

The former Arsenal man joined on loan Barcelona at the end of August, and marked a huge coup for the Hammers considering his reputation in football.

Song joined Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Cresswell, Cheikhou Kouyate, Diego Poyet, Morgan Amalfitano, Mauro Zarate, Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia in arriving at Upton Park as results started to improve.

Valencia was one of the stars of the World Cup, scoring all three of Ecuador's goals at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. His exploits meant that West Ham had to pay Mexican side Pachuca for his services, but he entered the Premier League with a bang.

With West Ham 1-0 down at Hull, Valencia picked the ball up 25 yards from goal before unleashing an unstoppable drive into the roof of the net. Valencia's goal couldn't spur West Ham on to victory, but the 2-2 draw was a spirited one.

Big results weren't far off though, as just days later West Ham claimed their first scalp of the season by beating Liverpool 3-1 at Upton Park.

Goals from Winston Reid and Diafra Sakho had West Ham flying into a 2-0 lead inside seven minutes, and whilst Raheem Sterling did pull one back for Liverpool, Morgan Amalfitano made it three in the closing stages to send a message to the Premier League - West Ham were on the march.

And in October, West Ham took down another of the so-called 'big boys' by defeating last season's champions Manchester City at home.

Amalfitano put the Hammers in front from close range after great work from Valencia, before Sakho headed in an Aaron Cresswell cross to make it two. David Silva gave City hope with a fine strike from the edge of the box, but West Ham were stubborn and resilient, claiming all three points in the process.

Now, West Ham lie fourth in the Premier League table with 31 points from 17 games - just nine points shy of their tally from last season.

The return of gangly target man Andy Carroll has given West Ham another dimension, with Carroll particularly impressing - and scoring - in recent victories over Swansea and Leicester.

With Carroll, Sakho and Valencia firing on all cylinders, this is by far the best squad Allardyce has had at West Ham - and it's showing with their impressive results.

Allardyce is now being mentioned in discussions over the next England manager, and West Ham fans have completely changed their views on 'Big Sam'.

A European place isn't out of the equation in 2015, with strong home form putting the Hammers in a great position entering the New Year.

The move to the Olympic Stadium isn't far away, and with a strong end to this season, West Ham could be establishing themselves as at least a top eight side ahead of that move.

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