The phrase ‘football is a game of two halves’ often fails to give much of an insight into the sport or how it’s played in any way whatsoever – yet when it comes to describing how 2014/15 has played out for West Ham United this season – it really is hard to think of any other way of putting it.
The Hammers made a somewhat unforeseen start to the current campaign with their strong form in the league and entertaining approach on the eye. Big Sam’s men rose up the table and managed to maintain their lofty status all the way up until Christmas. It was a period many West Ham supporters simply loved being part of – and with the likes of Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia bossing proceedings in the goal scoring department – it seemed the good times had only really just begun at Upton Park.
Since the turn of the year however, things have simply gone from bad to worse for Sam Allardyce’s side. They unceremoniously crashed out of the FA Cup at the hands of West Brom, Andy Carroll was struck down with yet another season ending injury, and the performances have all but dried up in comparison to how the club began the 2014/15 campaign.
Several players simply haven’t done themselves justice for the Upton Park faithful of late – yet as Alex Song might have to go down as the main offender in this specific department – question marks have inevitably been raised as to what the future ultimately has in store for the former Arsenal man going into the new season.
If you had asked a selection of West Ham fans whether or not they wanted their club to sign the Barcelona loanee permanently at the start of the season, nine out of ten of them would have jumped at the chance immediately. Song not only shone for the Hammers back in 2014 – he led them to the kind of performances that only sides in the top four seemed worthy of producing.
Wins against both Liverpool and Manchester City didn’t just coincide with the Cameroonian’s presence in the team, they were largely brought about literally because of it. The ex-Emirates favourite seemed so calm on the ball yet purposeful with his passing, it was almost as if West Ham had landed themselves the perfect defensive midfielder going into the 2014/15 campaign. He could break up play and tackle opponents when necessary – yet he also proved a vital competent when it came to assisting goals and aiding the play for Big Sam’s team.
Since the combination of several developments for the player in question however – such as Big Sam’s decision to revert to his traditional match-day tactics, the injury-ridden consequences of playing next to no first team football with Barcelona last season, and his retirement from international football in more than mysterious circumstances – Alex Song has simply not been the same player for his side.
It is now beginning to seem increasingly unlikely that the former Arsenal man will sign for the Hammers permanently next season, even though such a notion would certainly still benefit the east end club. If it comes down to a matter of money however – perhaps West Ham can in-fact find a better deal elsewhere.
It’s also hard to imagine Song back at Arsenal any time soon, especially with the emergence of Francis Coquelin this season and Arsene Wenger’s notorious stubbornness when it comes to re-signing former stars. A team like Liverpool could therefore be the only option for the no. 30 should he wish to remain in the Premier League, but again, even that seems unlikely with the player publically stating that he wishes to stay in London.
As the Barcelona man’s recent drop in form, yet reportedly lofty wage demands, may put any other potential suitors off his services in the English game next season though, maybe a move abroad ultimately seems the most realistic next step for Alex Song.
The most unlikely situation of all for the centre-midfielder would nonetheless be the prospect of staying on at the Nou Camp next season, which simply seems impossible considering how things have turned out recently. Barcelona just aren’t the right club for him – yet if a team like West Ham aren’t either – it remains hard to place the ex-Cameroonian international going into the new season.
One thing remains certain however – if Alex Song can get a good pre-season under his belt and truly put his fitness problems behind him next term, then whoever manages to land the technically gifted midfielder in the run up to the 2015/16 campaign could really be on the end of a very successful deal in-deed.
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