Hammers continue to boost hopes of staying up

Posted by Vinny Ryan

Joy for West Ham after James Collins scored their opener against Norwich.GettyImagesJoy for West Ham after James Collins scored their opener against Norwich.

It is amazing what a few wins can do for a season. Only last month West Ham appeared to be on their knees, with supporters becoming disillusioned with what they were watching and manager Sam Allardyce on the brink of being removed as manager.

But goals from James Collins and Mohamed Diame gave West Ham their third win in a row with the team taking 10 points from the last 12 available and moving up to 10th in the Premier League.

If Allardyce had been sacked after the disastrous results away at Nottingham Forest and Manchester City, I doubt you would have found too many people arguing against it, but without a standout candidate to replace him, the owners believed it would have been a pointless and expensive exercise.

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The manager was adamant that when he was able to welcome players back from injury that results would pick up, and even the staunchest anti-Allardyce critic cannot argue that this has not rung true; results have coincided with the return of key members of the first team.

Having deserved to beat Swansea City and Aston Villa, West Ham had a different type of encounter with Norwich, who stifled the Hammers' play, prevented the midfield from finding any space and led to much frustration around the Boleyn Ground.

Chris Hughton and his Norwich team will look back on the game and wonder how they didn't take something away. The fact that the man of the match award was given to West Ham goalkeeper Adrian tells you a lot about this game. The Spanish keeper was in excellent form to keep the Canaries out.

As the acceptance of another 0-0 draw was beginning to settle in, a cross from Diame was met by the head of Collins to put the Hammers into the lead. The goal came somewhat out of the blue, with West Ham having offered little in the way of attack in the second half.

Breaking with power and pace, along with the aid of a deflection, Diame made it 2-0 to cap off the evening.

Diame is a player I have criticised over the past few weeks, as I believe that despite all his ability his attitude may not be suited to a relegation battle. But credit where credit is due, his introduction as a substitute made all the difference and he was certainly more effective than Matt Jarvis, who put in another disappointing display.

To have put three wins together at this stage of the season (and given how low everyone connected with the club was just a few weeks ago) is a wonderful effort from the managerial team and the playing staff.

The team spirit is something that is evident, and you can see what it means to the players to get these results. This is where things are drastically different to the Avram Grant era, when it seemed as though West Ham had a group of players who didn't want to be at the club and cared very little if the Hammers were relegated.

While these three victories do not guarantee safety, they have given the club a platform to build on, and there are enough winnable games from now until the end of the season to see West Ham remain in the Premier League for another season.

The team now has a weekend off before meeting Southampton on Feb. 22. Allardyce has stated that the team will be taken away to Dubai and given the break in action.

One player not involved in the past few games has been Ravel Morrison, who looks set to leave the club on loan, with QPR expressing interest. If you had told most West Ham fans after the Tottenham away game in the league that Morrison would not be able to get into the team come February, I don't think many would have believed you.

It was made clear when he signed that he had a few problems regarding his attitude, but once it all started to come together on the pitch, it was hoped that these problems would become a secondary issue, with his football doing all the talking.

But comments from Allardyce before the Norwich game suggest that the desire and commitment from the player just aren't there.

It would seem Morrison's West Ham career is in jeopardy. Anyone who has watched the player knows that he has unbelievable talent and, if he wants to, he can go all the way to the top.

Follow Vinny Ryan on Twitter @vinnywhufc.


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