West Ham continued their recent run of good results with a 2-0 victory over Wigan on Saturday. After the exertions of the 2-2 draw the Wednesday before with Manchester United, the performance itself was relatively poor. Wigan had about 60% possession in the match and had a number of chances to secure the game, but Jussi Jaaskelainen was in fantastic form again and kept the Hammers in it. A largely defensive display by West Ham was punctuated with the occasional counter attack, and Wigan were to rue their number of missed chances when goals from Matt Jarvis and Kevin Nolan completed an unlikely victory. In seasons past West Ham would have lost games like this, and it says a lot about the quality and organisation that Big Sam has brought to the side that they were able to smash and grab the points here.
The goal from Kevin Nolan was the hundredth of his career, and now he has crossed that psychological barrier I expect him to get at least a couple more by the end of the season. Andy Carroll was instrumental in setting up his good friend’s goal, and now that the end of the seaon is approaching, the West Ham PR machine is in full flow with regard to his possible permanent transfer from Liverpool.
Big Sam has spoken about how the Hammers simply cannot afford to buy Carroll when the Financial Fair Play rules come into force next season, and all and sundry are saying how vital it is that West Ham manage to keep Carroll next season. Of course it all comes down to money. Will Liverpool drop their asking price low enough? After shelling out £35 million on Carroll they will want to recoup as much as possible, but their current asking price of £17 million will surely not be met by anyone. Brendan Rodgers has also made it clear that if Carroll stays with Liverpool he will likely be a bit-part player, coming off the bench as an impact sub. Although Carroll knows he still has a point to prove at Liverpool, I cannot see him forgoing a regular starting spot, and the likelihood is that he would want to move on. Newcastle have also announced their ambition in Carroll’s direction, but they are in a similar position to West Ham who hold all the cards in the shape of Big Sam, best buddy Nolan, a style of football that is tailor-made for him, and the fact that Carroll is supposedly very happy where he is right now. Carroll’s wages are an obvious stumbling block, so it remains to seen how that will be resolved, but my feeling is that he will take a cut to stay where he is. Big Sam knows that that would be the best move for West Ham and has intimated that it would be the best move for Carroll too. Let’s hope that he does stay. Hero status is just around the corner.