Tony Cottee Column: Forget draws, every game is now a must-win for West Ham

16:45 04 April 2012

James Tomkins

James Tomkins

“The one thing we mustn’t do is dwell on the Reading defeat. We have to concentrate on the last six games. ”

There is no getting away from it, Saturday’s result at home to Reading was very, very disappointing. After the highs of securing a win at Peterborough, it looked like the Hammers had got their season back on track.

However, sloppy defensive errors gifted the Royals three vital points in their race to secure automatic promotion in West Ham’s biggest game of the season so far.

With Reading now four points clear of the Hammers it is somewhat out of their hands, but Brian McDermott’s side have a hard run-in and must still go to Southampton, Brighton and Birmingham and those games will not be easy.

And yet it started so well for West Ham, who scored in the seventh minute through Carlton Cole.

However, after that we just couldn’t get that second goal that would have killed the game off.

Instead, two defensive errors in as many minutes and Reading go bouncing in at half time with a 2-1 lead that they didn’t deserve on the first 45 minutes.

And then things went from bad to worse when we lost Mark Noble to a thigh injury.

Hopefully it won’t be too bad an injury as I think that Mark has been one of our best players this season.

Sam Allardyce decided to move James Tomkins into midfield and bring on Danny Collins in defence and I think that disrupted our flow.

Some would argue that it was a negative move when we were losing 2-1 and I would agree. James is a fantastic footballer but he is much better in defence than midfield.

The Hammers then went on to gift Reading a further two goals and I think that that is what makes the defeat so hard to take.

It wasn’t as if the Royals came to Upton Park and outplayed us, we simply gifted them the opportunities and they punished us by taking them.

The one thing that we mustn’t do is dwell on the defeat though. We have to move on and focus on the remaining six games of the season.

Allardyce has said that he is targeting six wins out of six and that is what we should be aiming for.

However, having closely looked at each of Southampton’s and Reading’s remaining games, I think that four wins and two draws could be enough to guarantee a top-two finish.

And of course, the top two are still to play each other next Friday which will be a huge game.

For now though it is important that the Hammers win at Barnsley tomorrow (Friday) and then follow that up with a big victory at home to Birmingham City on Monday.

Now is the time for the players to really stand up and be counted.

I was at Barnsley a couple of weeks ago and I saw them get beat at home by Reading 4-0, so I am confident that the Hammers can go there and do the same.

Of course, as has so often been the case this season, I expect Barnsley to come out all guns blazing against us. West Ham will just have to weather the storm like they did at Peterborough and then take their chances when they come along against a side that has had a poor run of form.

Monday’s game will be different against a side just one place below the Hammers.

Birmingham are only six points behind us and we don’t want them to narrow that gap. If we are to be in the play-offs, we need to make sure that we finish in third place.

Tony Cottee was talking to Nathaniel John

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

We all loved a bit of Nick because really, what’s not to love?

Read more

Jean Bernard Fernandez-Versini has won damages over a magazine article about the couple’s wedding.

Read more

The Recording Academy are honouring the late George Harrison with a posthumous Lifetime Achievement award.

Read more

Promoted content

We've got a great selection of Secret Santa presents and stocking fillers for under a tenner...  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Office Secret Santa: it’s a Christmas ritual that everyone dreads, but no-one wants to seem like a Scrooge by saying no. Never fear, London24 is here to make buying gifts for Dave in Accounts simple and stress-free, with a selection of presents for under a tenner

Money saving Christmas gifts to add to your shopping list!

It’s nearly time to go on the hunt for Christmas presents, stuck on what to get for your nearest and dearest? We’ve picked out a selection of great deals to get you started and to help you save some pennies!

TOP STORIES

Quizzes

West Ham Wikipedia quiz

This new West Ham quiz will test even the most devoted Hammers fans’ knowledge…

Read more
Can you name these moustaches?

Movember is upon us once again and men across the country are growing moustaches to raise money to battle prostate cancer.

Read more
Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho go head to head (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Football managers are either deified or chastised, depending on results and they are some of the most famous faces in the country.

Read more
Roy Keane  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Roy Keane denied the world of more glorious beard action this weekend by shaving his famous chin hair off, however football is still littered with some impressive beards.

Read more

West Ham Transfer News

West Ham United's Carl Jenkinson applauds the fans as he is substituted

On loan West Ham full back Carl Jenkinson is in fine form for the Hammers and won’t rule out joining the East Enders permanently in the summer.

Read more
Celtic's Virgil van Dijk (Photo by Samuel Kubani/EuroFootball/Getty Images)

West Ham legend Frank McAvennie reckons the Hammers are in a better position to sign Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk than Arsenal and Tottenham.

Read more
Celtic's Virgil van Dijk (Photo by Christian Hofer/Getty Images)

With the opening of the transfer window just under two weeks away, we round up some of the latest news and gossip involving the London clubs.

Read more
Top nine players who need a January transfer, including Dwight Gayle, Ravel Morrison and Emmanuel Adebayor

With less than two weeks to go until the January transfer window, every single Premier League club will be eyeing signings and departures.

Read more
Chelsea's Eden Hazard (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Here is a round-up from around the web of this morning’s top transfer stories.

Read more