Sam Allardyce deserves some recognition for the rejuvenation we have seen at West Ham this season as the statistics suggest they are making significant improvements.
It may still be early doors in terms of the football season, but the Hammers have been fascinating to watch as the side strives to change their style and provide some long awaited entertainment.
- West Ham strikers can punish Man United's dodgy defence
- Carroll may struggle to regain West Ham starting berth
- West Ham win against Liverpool inspired by new signings
Allardyce was the victim of some heavy criticism throughout the majority of last season and most fans would have been pleased to see the back of him in the summer.
However the board decided to give the 59-year-old another chance – either because of loyalty or a sense of owing to the man that regained and sustained their Premier League status – but now they will be smiling from ear to ear with the way Allardyce has got them playing.
I for one never envisaged Allardyce to be the man to take the club forward and suspected he would be out of the job by November. But credit where credit is due, he has taken on board the demands of the board for attacking football and changed the whole complexion of West Ham in just a few short months.
It was a busy summer in the transfer market and Allardyce brought in nine new faces, all of which have hit the ground running.
While it is easy to get ahead of ourselves with the impact that they have made so far, especially the strikers Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho, they have got Hammers fans off their seats again.
Cheikhou Kouyate deserves a special mention also, a signing from Champions League outfit Anderlecht and a major coup for West Ham. Aaron Cresswell is looking like a great little player, too, and Alex Song shared how he was convinced to join the Hammers on-loan from Barcelona by Allardyce.
So again, the manager deserves a lot of credit for an incredible transfer window, but even he would probably admit he never expected the newbies to adapt quite as quickly as they have.
Teddy Sheringham’s return to the club as an attacking coach is looking like a masterstroke and could be a big factor as to why the Irons are currently the fourth top scorers in the Premier League, with nine goals.
Now, with more than one forward up top in a new diamond system, the side is averaging 13.8 shots per game, an improvement on last term’s 11.1. West Ham are also managing two shots more on target this campaign, at an average of 5.2 – perhaps a reflection of Sheringham's work behind the scenes.
Most pointedly, the Hammers no longer hit the highest proportion of long balls in the Premier League – as was the case last season. They are now ninth with a lower proportion of their overall passes going long.
They are also playing with more possession, as a 2013/14 low of 42.6% has risen to 46.8%, and their pass accuracy has risen with it, from 73.9% to 78.2%, indicating tactical nuance and a higher level of quality on the ball.
This is exemplified by the defensive duo of James Tomkins and Winston Reid, who now desperately try to pass the ball out of defence rather than hoofing it away and thinking after.
The drastic increase in movement off the ball is allowing creative midfielders Mark Noble, Stewart Downing and Song to play threading passes that have more often than not found the strikers.
The link-up play between Sakho, Valencia and the midfield has been a joy to witness and provided some freedom in a previously rigid formation that was centred around a big target man.
It can now be considered somewhat of a blessing in disguise that Andy Carroll is injured once again, as previously it has been a condemnation that the Hammers would suffer for it.
Without him in the side Allardyce has had to change the system and in doing so the club is looking in better shape than ever and perhaps on their way to a record high finish in the Premier League.
But consistency is the key in this league, as the season plays out we will see what the side is really made of and if they can stick with this enthusiastic, energetic and entertaining style of play.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: https://www.givemesport.com/writeforgms