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

Latest West Ham news

Thursday, May 28, 2015
Jose Mourinho manager of Chelsea  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Chelsea’s dominance in the Premier League this season owes much to Jose Mourinho’s pragmatic approach, and specifically to a defence led expertly all season by his ever-present captain, John Terry.

Thursday, May 28, 2015
West Ham United's Carlton Cole (left) and Everton's John Stones battle for the ball

West Ham striker Carlton Cole confirmed on Twitter that he will be leaving the Hammers when his contract expires.

Thursday, May 28, 2015
Mauro Zarate and Modibo Maiga (Images by PA)

West Ham co-owner David Gold says Mauro Zarate and Modibo Maiga will be back at the club for pre-season training.

Thursday, May 28, 2015
Unai Emery, coach of Sevilla (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Sevilla coach Unai Emery declared himself “very happy here” after guiding the Andalusian outfit to Europa League glory, but will make a decision on his future after talks with club officials “in a couple of days’ time”.

Thursday, May 28, 2015
Marcelo Bielsa   (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Marseille have offered manager Marcelo Bielsa a bumper new two-year deal to prevent the experienced boss jumping ship this summer.

What is this?

Near You Now

Competitions

The sell out 2014 event 32 Londoners, returns to the Coca-Cola London Eye!

The Coca-Cola London Eye is proud to announce that 32 Londoners will be returning this June, following last year’s sell out event. The event will feature 32 talks, in each of the London Eye’s 32 capsules on 32 extraordinary Londoners.

Read more
You could take in stunning views of London over brunch at the Sky Garden

Celebrate lighter, brighter days with the chance of winning an indulgent brunch for two with a bottle of bubbles at Darwin, the cool and casual brasserie 36 floors up at Sky Garden.

Read more
Time to experience the dizzy heights of London's tallest attraction!

Morgan Pryce, commercial property experts based in London are offering one lucky reader the chance to win a pair of tickets to The Shard viewing platform in the city itself.

Read more

Don't Miss...

West Ham Transfer News

Raheem Sterling of Liverpool goes past Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

With only the FA Cup final left to go this season, most clubs are now on their holiday’s preparing for next term already. Transfers are the name of the game until then and here is our handy Thursday round-up.

Read more
Chelsea's Petr Cech attempts a save against Arsenal  (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

The season is almost over, with the FA Cup final bringing the curtain down next weekend, so clubs all around the capital, country and Europe are now looking at summer transfer deals. Here is our handy Tuesday round-up.

Read more
Jackson Martinez of FC Porto battles with Dante and Jerome Boateng of Bayern Munich (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The Premier League season is over but silly season has just begun. Here are the latest transfer rumours from around the web.

Read more
Gonzalo Higuain and Rafa Benitez

Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain reportedly had a furious confrontation with manager Rafa Benitez after their 3-1 defeat to Juventus on Saturday.

Read more