Will he stay or will he go? Carlton Cole is still a transfer target. (©PAphotos)
by Nigel Kahn
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After the first game the table has a familiar look to it for West Ham fans, third from bottom after the opening day defeat to Aston Villa.
This game was the first under Avram Grant and was supposed to be a fresh new start for the team especially as the Hammers have been one of the most active teams in the transfer market so far.
The team that kicked off at 3pm, though, contained only one new face, defender Winston Reid, and seven of the team that started West Ham's final game of last season which doesn’t explain why they played like strangers in the first half, gifting Villa a two goal lead.
Perhaps it was the formation, which was supposed to be 4-3-3 yet played more like 4-5-1, with Carlton Cole alone upfront without support from midfield, leaving the players a bit confused to their roles.
Fortunately this is only the opening game so no need to panic just yet, but Saturday's home game with Bolton is the game that would be picked out as the easiest of our opening fixtures with the fans demanding three points from this fixture.
The problem with this is that since our return to the Premier League in 2005 West Ham's record at Upton Park against Bolton is only 1 win,1 draw with 3 defeats; a record that makes this game no formality.
I would even go to say that on paper the Hammers' team is one that I would expect to beat Bolton without too much trouble but football is not played on paper and you cant legislate for out of form players, or players whose minds are elsewhere.
One of the causes for this is the transfer window that closes at the end of August meaning that some of the players may be playing their last games for the club yet are expected to perform to their highest ability with this uncertainty.
Carlton Cole is being linked with a few teams and as one of West Ham's bankable assets, with apparently Liverpool waiting to make an offer, how is he expected to be on top form when you’re just an injury away from missing out on a move to a bigger club?
Surely the best thing to do for all clubs is to close the transfer window at kick off time on the opening day of the season, every player then would know where they will be until the window opens again on the 1st of January.
If you take into fact West Ham's chairman said at the end of last season that every player is for sale, with the exception of Scott Parker, there were nine players playing on Saturday who are not guaranteed to stay at the club till the window closes.
West Ham are apparently still active in the transfer market with them looking to make more signings but they have only offloaded out of contract players for which no money was received which means, with it being well known that the Hammers are massively in debt, some players will have to be moved on.
It looks like being an interesting couple of weeks at Upton Park, with Bolton on Saturday and Manchester United away, until the window closes and the teams break for international fixtures at the beginning of September.
Not quite panic stations but with a tough September as well it could be until October when West Ham settle down and start to move up the league but, as Blackpool showed on Saturday, even the so called whipping boys will not lay down without a fight proving there are no longer any easy games in the Premier League.
While this may read as if I am a merchant of doom, predicting West Ham's fall from grace, I still feel that West Ham will finish in the top 10 with an outside chance of Europe.
Once Avram Grant has a settled team and knows the players he has to work with I believe we will be back to the old West Ham way of attractive football with the results to prove it.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.