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Joe Strange - West Ham troubles show no sign of stopping

Published: 03 Nov 2010 - 12:17:45

While some Liverpool fans were panicking at the thought of trips to Scunthorpe and Barnsley during their side's almost month-long stay in the bottom three, and a small but silly section of Blackpool supporters started dreaming of the Champions League after the briefest of stints in the top four, we all know that the fledgling Premier League table means almost nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Sometimes it can give us an indication of the clubs that'll be challenging towards the upper echelons of the league (see Chelsea) and those that are set for a season of mediocrity (see Birmingham), but there's still more than enough games left for teams to change their fortunes, be it for better or worse.

However, there comes a time in every season, no matter what the league, where everyone starts taking notice, and invariably worrying about the dreaded table.

Fans spend an eternity working out who they need to draw with who and how many goals they need so-and-so to concede so that their team will move above them on goal difference. This time of the season can be nicely summed up as the self-explanatory "10 game mark", a milestone that every team has now reached.

After 10 games most managers and pundits seem to agree that the table starts to matter. With 28 games still to play it's unlikely that any bosses have resigned themselves to their side's inevitable relegation, so why is it so important?

In my opinion it's purely psychological.When those involved in the game, whether it be the players, manager or fans, see themselves in the bottom three then the brain's natural reaction is to worry and automatically assume the worst.

Looking at all those teams above you, even if it is only by a few points, is not good for confidence, belief or morale. As the games tick by this issue only worsens - we're already more than a quarter into the season and before you know it the vital Christmas period will be upon us.

Take a quick glance towards the bottom of the league now and one team jumps out - West Ham United.

Not only are the Hammers rock bottom of the table but they are already four points adrift of safety. Admittedly a couple of wins will probably fire them to mid-table, but considering they've amassed just six points from their opening nine games, back-to-back wins looks rather unlikely.

On Saturday Avram Grant's strugglers put up a fight against Arsenal but ultimately came away with nothing after conceding a late goal. It was a better showing than the truly abysmal home defeat to Newcastle the week before but that isn't saying much.

A visit to the Emirates is arguably the most difficult away-day on the Premier League calendar but their failure to offer almost anything going forward and an over-reliance on the outstanding Rob Green are worrying signs for Irons fans.

Their fate at the end of the season won't be decided by results against sides challenging for the title but with points already dropped at home against the likes of the Magpies, Fulham and Bolton, West Ham already look like being embroiled in a season-long relegation scrap.

On paper they have a squad capable of achieving a comfortable mid-table finish but on the pitch things just aren't gelling as new owners David Sullivan and David Gold would have hoped.

All Grant can hope for now is that the money-men are among the few that don't worry about the table at this early stage of the season.

FOLLOW JOE ON TWITTER @joe_strange

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:joe strange
A product of Brighton University's prolific youth system, Joe Strange has boundless energy and the enviable ability to cover every blade of grass in his Monday blog. Joe has written for a variety of football websites and fanzines and is also a regular contributor to golf.co.uk. Despite being born and raised in Kent, 'Stranger' is a diehard Everton fan and counts his team's penalty shoot-out victory against Manchester United last season as his most memorable football moment. Follow Joe on Twitter @joe_strange.

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