Club Focus – West Ham – Safety secured, but what does the future hold?

West Ham always beat Fulham – until now, as the Cottagers sealed a first home win over the Hammers in 44 years. A dramatic swing in the fortunes of the two London clubs has seen West Ham go from FA Cup finalists in 2006, to relegation candidates once again just four years later, whilst so-called small-time Fulham’s amazing European adventure continued as they reached the final of the Europa League. Defeat at the Cottage, whilst perhaps not a shock to the Hammers’ faithful, does however represent the downturn in fortunes which the club has suffered over the course of this season.

It is Fulham’s first ever victory over West Ham in the Premier League but the Irons definitely put up a strong fight. The game was closely fought but it was a familiar story, as despite scoring twice, the problems lay at the other end of the field and an own-goal from Carlton Cole didn’t help the cause. The Hammers are now mathematically safe after Hull failed to beat Wigan at the DW Stadium on Monday, and although realistically safe anyway, it is a huge relief to have the future of the club guaranteed in the Premier League for next season. Every week it is a stuck record about Gianfranco Zola’s future and the ‘will he or won’t he’ resign saga, but David Sullivan has been on record saying that the Italian may hand in his resignation. David Gold has also stated recently that his ears are open to offers to any member of the squad apart from Scott Parker, and this will be music to the ears of West Ham fans as the midfielder has been the stand out performer and is surely a shoe-in for the Hammer of the Year award.

With this campaign fizzling out and grinding to a slow halt after all of the drama which has occurred in the season so far, it will be good for the club to get into the summer and start planning for next term. Questions are currently being asked as to which of the current playing staff will be around come August, and if Zola departs as expected, don’t be surprised if a huge overturn of the playing staff is overseen by the new man in charge. Fringe players especially – the likes of Manuel Da Costa and Fabio Daprela could find themselves with no future at the Boleyn.

Looking ahead to the World Cup and the roles of the West Ham players in Fabio Capello’s plans are far from decided one would feel. Will Rob Green be number one choice? There are many who believe that Joe Hart and David James are both more likely to be handed the jersey than the West Ham man. It is tough for Green to really impress playing in a team that concedes so many goals and is ultimately struggling to win matches, but Capello will know his credentials and surely wouldn’t have played him as much as he has done if he didn’t believe he was good enough to do the job. Matthew Upson will probably be on the plane as a back-up centre-half and has found himself in the team whenever Rio Ferdinand or John Terry have been unavailable. The worry for Upson will be the form of Michael Dawson, Gary Cahill and Ledley King who have all been impressing in the Premier League. It seems unlikely now that Carlton Cole will go to South Africa when considering his dramatic loss of form since his return from injury. He has struggled for goals and a lot of his play has been sloppy by his usual high standards. With ex-Hammer Bobby Zamora finding himself in the form of his life and Darren Bent prolific for Sunderland, it is difficult now to see him featuring. If Cole does move in the summer, it will be interesting to see if he features more prominently in the England set-up, if for example he moved to Liverpool or Aston Villa.

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