Former Liverpool youngster Aaron Cresswell looked nailed on to be Hammer of the Year after arriving from Ipswich Town, but is he letting it slip away?
Aaron Cresswell was probably the lowest profile of all West Ham's signings last summer. But the diminutive ex-Tranmere left-back had performed so well in the Irons' flying first half of the season he was even being tipped for England recognition.
His excellent defensive displays, particularly in one-on-one situations against some of the Premier League's quickest wingers, marauding runs and pinpoint deliveries saw him quickly find a place in the hearts of the Hammers faithful.
With a number of assists, a first Premier League goal and praise from teammates like Mark Noble ringing in his ears, all was looking rosy for the West Ham ever-present.
But talk of a big money move to mega rich Manchester City from sources such as the Express and speculation about a potential England call-up has coincided with a dip in form which could yet see Cresswell hand the advantage to one of his teammates in the running for HOTY, an award that has been won by club legends such as Bobby Moore, Billy Bonds and Trevor Brooking.
The Liverpudlian conceded it has been difficult of late after a brilliant first half of the season, but insisted he is determined to help turn things around.
“I don’t think the fact that we’re safe is any excuse, it shouldn’t be," Cresswell told the club's official website.
"We’re all winners, we’re professional. We’ve got seven games left to try and make sure we don’t let the season fizzle out.
“We’ve had some tough games recently but it’s not an excuse though. With seven games to go we have to try and get any many points as possible.”
It is not just Cresswell who has failed to maintain his form from earlier in the season as West Ham have dropped like a stone from the dizzy heights of fourth to ninth with just two league wins since Christmas.
But his dependable, energetic displays, which drew comparisons in style to Ashley Cole, have faded and mistakes like a poor own goal in the 3-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace and uncharacteristic misplaced passes at Leicester on Saturday have crept into his game.
One of the key things missing from his game in recent weeks, though, has been his swashbuckling runs and overlaps down the left where he delivers quality balls into the box for the likes of Diafra Sakho to get on the end of.
With Cresswell stuttering after being unofficially handed the HOTY award on various fans' forums and websites, a number of his teammates have closed the gap.
James Collins, who had been tipped to run him close anyway, is determined to prove to the club he is worth one last long-term deal. And Cheikhou Kouyaté, another fans' favourite, has been almost singlehandedly holding Sam Allardyce's side together, putting in fantastic goalscoring performances both as a stand-in centre back and in his more familiar central midfield role.
That's not to mention the likes of 10-goal Sakho who could become the club's highest scorer in a Premier League season since Marlon Harewood, and cult hero Adrian, who saved a penalty at Leicester at the weekend.
Even if Cresswell does miss out on the award, his progress this season has been a joy to watch for the Boleyn faithful. And it might not be a bad thing either when you consider what became of some of the other defenders that have been named the club's Player of the Year in recent memory like Danny Gabbidon and Sebastien Schemmel.