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

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Submit your West Ham player ratings

Latest West Ham news

Saturday, April 18, 2015
Sam Allardyce the West Ham manager(Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

Sam Allardyce believes club owners in England have become more ‘volatile’ in recent years, but does not believes the Premier league has been too bad this season.

Friday, April 17, 2015
Sam Allardyce and Jurgen Klopp (Photos by Getty Images)

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce says he is not surprised to see Jurgen Klopp being linked with a move to the Premier League ahead of Sunday’s meeting with Manchester City.

Friday, April 17, 2015
Carlton Cole of West Ham (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

Sam Allardyce has confirmed that Diafra Sakho will miss at least three to four weeks with a thigh injury and called on Carlton Cole and Enner Valencia to step up in the striker’s absence.

Friday, April 17, 2015
Weekend betting tips featuring Chelsea's Eden Hazard

This weekend’s betting tips cover a range of high profile Premier League clashes, including Chelsea v Manchester United and the FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Reading.

Friday, April 17, 2015
The fun run will take place in the Olympic Park

West Ham co-chairman David Gold told Hammers fans last night that the majority want the move to the Olympic Stadium.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

West Ham Transfer News

Yaya Toure of Manchester City (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

With the season fast coming to an end, many clubs are now seeking their summer work to improve their squad and move to the next level. Check out our transfer round-up featuring Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham, Tottenham, QPR and Crystal Palace.

Read more
Burnley's Danny Ings (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Read our round-up of the latest transfer strories on Tottenham, Chelsea and the rest of the London clubs.

Read more
Edinson Cavani of Paris Saint-Germain  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

The season is rapidly coming towards an end and a busy summer is already at the front of many clubs’ thoughts. Here is our handy round-up of the best transfer stories from around the web featuring Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs, West Ham, Crystal Palace and QPR.

Read more