Alex Song has vanished over the past few weeks and a clumsy, lackadaisical imposter has taken his place.
Up until Christmas the 27-year-old could seemingly do no wrong as he consistently put in top quality, match-winning displays, yet over the past two months, unsurprisingly in correlation with the Hammers descent down the table, his form has drastically dropped.
West Ham was humbled on Saturday afternoon when Crystal Palace visited Upton Park, beaten convincingly in the London derby by three goals to one, and Song was dragged off after an hour.
Glenn Murray scored twice for the visitors, one either side of Scott Dann’s goal, before he was sent off with a quarter of the match still to play. This sparked the Irons into life after a dismal display and Enner Valencia netted a consolation, but it was all a little too late.
Song was, as he has been in the past few matches now, off the pace. He misplaced pass after pass and attacks constantly broke down because of his carelessness in possession.
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Furthermore, he lacked any commitment or desire to fulfil his defensive responsibilities which was a key factor in West Ham’s demise. James Puncheon was allowed to roam free in behind him, untracked, and consistently slide passes behind the defence.
The Hammers have now won just one of their last 10 league games – and taken just eight points from a possible 30 – an alarming run as far as Sam Allardyce is concerned.
It is no coincidence that with Song’s decline in form West Ham have struggled to win matches and this run of results has certainly brought to light, even more than was apparent already, just how important an in-form Song is to this team.
An out-of-form Song, however, is negatively just as influential. When he’s not at it can be like playing with 10 men, or, against 12 with the amount of passes he misplaces. His lack of motivation and concentration seems to come to the fore in the so-called ‘easier’ games which could indicate that the player is merely trying to impress potential suitors for a summer move. But his displays could have the reverse effect and may allude to why he flopped in Barcelona.
Allardyce and co should stick with him, though, and ensure they fight tooth and nail to sign him permanently at the end of the season. Despite his flaws, his quality is too good for the east London outfit to pass up on and if they can get him consistently playing to his full potential they'll reap the benefits.
Do you think West Ham should still look to make Alex Song’s loan move permanent? Let us know in the comments section below…