Incredible, truly incredible. We sit in second place in the table, on course for automatic promotion courtesy of a single goal victory over Coventry. But we could have been top. Southampton and Middlesbrough played their parts by losing and shipping three goals apiece. Had we taken Coventry apart - as a team third from top playing a team second from bottom should have done - then the goal difference would have seen us top. But we couldn't play our part, we had to rely on others to help us out. And that's our season in a nutshell!
The wheels are off at Southampton big time, but they are still above us in the table. How many opportunities have they given us to overtake them? But time and again we fall short. Imagine the boost had we put four past Coventry and moved above the Saints in the table. The psychological impact on both teams would have been huge. But instead of stamping our authority on Coventry and the division as a whole, we ended the game clinging on, conceding corner after corner and doing our level best to help our goal shy opponents to score. Statistically we dominated the game, but Murphy's "brilliant" performance amounted to two very good saves and a whole load of routine stuff otherwise.
Allardyce keeps blaming the forwards but how many clear cut chances do we create? If you encourage "hit and hope" shooting, the completion rate isn't going to be great, and the majority of our attempts are speculative rather than genuine chances. The best forwards only score one goal for every three genuine attempts. The conversion rate for half chances is much lower. How many genuine chances did we create on Saturday? Three? Four? So the one goal return is not really a great surprise on that basis. Ask yourself, how many times have you got out of your seat in expectation of us scoring this season? Actually the goal return is pretty good when that is taken into account.
Look back at the Birmingham game. Faubert missed two, but you wouldn't expect Faubert to score with headers would you? Cole forced a brilliant save. Nolan narrowly failed to connect on a cross. Can you think of any other clear cut chances in the whole game? Did Myhill make another save of note? I can't remember one.
At Reading Piquionne was clean through but his finish was tame. And apart from that? We had a shot cleared off the line but those two moments apart, my arse could have been super glued to my seat for all the urge I felt to stand up in anticipation of a goal. If you need three chances to score one goal, is it any wonder we didn't score?
So, I say again, it is the midfield that is the issue. It is width. It is stretching the opposition, pulling defenders to the left and to the right and so creating gaps down the middle. But are we being linked with any creative midfielders or any pacey wide men? No.
But does it matter? We are crap but we are still in a promotion place. So Allardyce will feel vindicated. Captain Kev won us the points again - and as passive as he appears, his goals have been invaluable, winning us 7 points so far.
The win against Coventry was truly our season in a nutshell. Inadequate yet somehow adequate. As Dicks said, "You expect more from West Ham" but under Allardyce we need to revise expectations.