Once again here are my player reviews for the season.
If a player has played even a second this season they will be reviewed.
Part 1 as always is goalkeepers and defenders.
Jaaskelainen was signed on a free transfer having been released by Bolton Wanderers. At 37 years old and having lost his place in a Bolton side who were relegated I don’t think I was the only one who had reservations about him replacing fan favourite Robert Green as our number one.
Despite a clean sheet on his debut against Aston Villa there were questions about how we would fare with him between the sticks when the away trip to Swansea proved to be a bit of a defensive disaster with Jaaskelainen at fault for the first goal.
Another clean sheet came in his next game at home to Fulham but this time questions about his kicking were now being asked after a number of wayward clearances.
But the statistics looked good after four Premiership games when he had kept an impressive three clean sheets and against Newcastle on 12th November he made it five clean sheets with his form having settled down.
Looking back on the season the main talking points about Jaaskelainen were mostly positives. Many claimed to always be ‘unsure’ about him and long for another keeper but I felt at the season went on he got better and better with a stunning display of shot stopping against Tottenham at Upton Park in which he was awarded man of the match and this despite conceding three goals.
With our other senior keeper Stephen Henderson sent out on loan for much of the season there was no doubt that Jussi was the number one keeper at the club. He was awarded a new one year deal in April with Sam Allardyce having no fears about his age and citing Brad Friedel as an example to highlight this.
The question in the summer was how much were we going to miss Robert Green but after 11 clean sheets and a host of excellent performances (which actually made him a late runner for hammer of the year) I think we can say with certainty that we did not and Jussi Jaaskelainen has proved to be an excellent signing.
Appearences: League 38 Cup 2 Bookings: 2 Verdict: After a few early mistakes his season got better as it progressed and Jussi was one of our best players throughout the season.
Being totally honest I thought that by the end of this season Stephen Henderson would be our number one goal keeper. I based this on his signing last season, his inclusion in a number of pre-season games as a starter and that Jussi Jaaskelainen was 37, soon to be 38 years old.
But nothing of the sort transpired and it was Jaaskelainen who began the season with Henderson only getting time as a starter against Crewe and Wigan in the league cup. The game against Wigan saw him concede four goals and whilst not directly at fault for the goals his overall performance could be described as a little shaky.
Soon after the Wigan defeat in the league cup he was shipped out on loan to Championship side Ipswich Town. I remember being a little surprised at the move given that we only had young keeper Rapheal Spiegel as back up but it was clear that Henderson was not going to feature in the plans of Sam Allardyce.
Having played 16 times for Ipswich he came back to West Ham in January and was on the bench for the two league games against Arsenal and Fulham but re-joined Ipswich on deadline day.
Henderson was again recalled, this time in March where he was on the bench for all our remaining games.
There have been rumours that Henderson had simply been signed by the club to help out Portsmouth and perhaps prevent them from going bust which would have impacted on our points tally in the Championship but I find this hard to believe that such an action would take place.
The facts are that he looks very unlikely to push Jaaskelainen at this moment in time and there are a number of rumours that we are interested in signing another goal keeper. I expect Henderson to be moved on in the summer.
Appearances: Cup 2
Having suffered an injury ravaged season in 2011/12 the Ivorian full back was an important member of our defence throughout the season and played 31 games in all competitions with 28 of those coming in the Premiership.
At the back end of the previous season he had done well enough but a couple of mistakes in the Play Off Final did have some questioning whether he could step up and do well in the top division.
Demel has been a sort of unsung hero through the campaign and is arguably one of the least talked about players we have in our squad despite being a mainstay at right back for much of it.
I would go as far to say that Guy Demel has been the most consistent player of the entire season and whilst he isn’t a player you come away from the game saying “wasn’t he great” you can surmise that the lack of opinion on his performance can been seen as a positive and it was a rare occasion when you would think Demel had been really poor and given a roasting by the winger.
You need players like Demel that can be depended on and perhaps I am even playing down his role because at times when going forward he offered great support and showed quite a bit of skill.
Even through our poor run of form he wasn’t a player I believe anyone looked to as a weak link or a problem.
His contract was extended to 2015 so I expect Demel to be one of the first names on the team sheet again next season.
Appearances: League 28 (+3 as sub) Cup 1 Bookings: 2 Verdict: Solid throughout the season and right back is not a position I feel we need to urgently look at which is testament to the performances of Demel.
Having made his debut in the penultimate game of the 2010/11 season which saw us relegated at Wigan I had believed that he would get a chance to play the following season in the Championship but instead he was shipped out on loan to Bristol City where he didn’t always even play.
With Allardyce not using him at all it seemed unlikely he would make an impact following our promotion but during Pre-Season he found himself playing quite a bit. In fact he started the first six Pre-Season games.
Spence was not included in any of the squads for the first few Premiership games but made his full West Ham debut in the League Cup game at home to Crewe and also started in the 4-1 home defeat in the same competition to Wigan.
These two displays were average and Spence found himself dropped from the next two squads but then recalled due to injuries and was on the bench against Southampton at Upton Park where he was brought on in the 86th minute and played on the right wing where despite not being on for long he looked impressive.
He found himself on the bench a few more times but although we had injuries at the back there was no faith shown in him by Sam Allardyce who preferred to move other players from their normal positions.
Then inexplicably Spence was handed a place in the starting eleven against Manchester United where he acquitted himself well enough but was unfortunate to give away a penalty although this was missed by Wayne Rooney.
After that game rather than think that Spence had clearly caught the eye of Allardyce in training it was clear that the reason Spence was starting was not due to him impressing but more for Allardyce’s comtempt for cup competitions and given that this was a replay at Old Trafford our chance to get through to the next round had ended when we conceded a last minute goal in the original game.
The fact was Guy Demel was on the bench and there was no reason to play Spence and since that game against Manchester United Jordan Spence has not been included in one squad.
I am unsure if his contract is up this summer but whether it is or isn’t I expect him to move on this summer as at 22 years old it is clear Sam Allardyce is not convinced by him.
Appearance: League (4 sub) Cup 3 Bookings: 2
When Winston Reid made his debut as a right back against Aston Villa in 2010 he had a nightmare and after the game I could never see how this boy could be a player. Cut to three years later and he has just been named as the Hammer Of The Year and I fully agree with him winning this award.
Having cemented his place in the side last season it seems that the chance to play in the Championship did nothing but good for Reid as he has become a stronger and more aware centre half.
Credit has to go to Sam Allardyce for his improvement because under his guidance Reid has turned into an excellent defender.
The 24 year old scored his first and only goal of the season in the 3-0 home win against Fulham where he met a Matthew Taylor corner with a thumping header. The only criticism I would give him is that he didn’t get on the end of a few more corners as he attacks headers generally well (something I feel he has learnt from James Collins).
His distribution of the ball has got better but is improving all the time and his greatest attribute for me is the last ditch recovery tackle which he seems to make on number of occasions. He seems to always be there to make that decisive challenge or interception and I feel confident with him at the back.
Winston Reid is the epitome of a player who can go through tough times at a club but under the right management and guidance can knuckle down, improve and go on to be one of the best players at the club.
Appearances: League 36 Cup 1 Goals: 1 Bookings: 8 Verdict: The Hammer of the year.
It has been a very odd season for James Tomkins and one he nor most of the fans would have expected given his wonderful season in 2011/12.
Tomkins was actually my vote for hammer of the year last season so I had expected him to be one of the first names on the team sheet coming into this campaign as I could not see how James Collins was going to keep him out and if it did come to that then it would surely be he and not Winston Reid who would get the nod.
But it began with him on the bench and he was always third choice throughout the entire season although with injuries and suspensions he still took part in a number of games and started 18 Premiership games and came on a further 8 times from the bench.
Having been picked for the Great Britain Olympic team in the summer everything seemed to be on the up for this West Ham boy but his displays at the Olympics were criticised and he did not get a full pre season with the rest of the West Ham squad which did him no favours.
His first start of the season came in our second match against Swansea where Tomkins was deployed in the centre midfield role but when things were going badly he was taken off at half time.
He would have to wait until the League Cup game at home to Wigan for another start and he had a bit of a nightmare looking extremely rusty and lacking match fitness.
Tomkins would get another chance when Winston Reid was taken off after just 22 minutes away at QPR where he slotted in well and settled as the game progressed. Tomkins was again in the team for the home match against Southampton but this time at right back as we were short.
This was really the story of his season in that he was there just to fill in. We do not have many centre halves in the squad (just three) so whilst he was never able to displace Collins and Reid without one of them being injured or suspended he was still required to play a role.
As we moved into December he began to get more games and played a few at right back and then moved into the centre. His inclusion coincided with our poor run of form and injury to James Collins at Sunderland meant that he was going to be needed during the next month.
Looking back on it the moment he began to play regularly we began to ship goals and although you cannot blame Tomkins entirely it is clear that Reid & Collins formed a defensive partnership that worked with James Tomkins never getting to grips with the quality the Premiership has to offer.
There is no need to write Tomkins off as I believe he is still an excellent defender and has shown this on a number of occasions but the fact is when he was in the team we looked poor.
Appearences: League 18 (+8 sub) Cup: 3 Goals: 1 Bookings: 5 Verdict: Needs to recapture the form that he produced in the Championship.
A popular figure in his first spell at the club James Collins was signed in the summer to boost our defensive options having been surplus to requirement at Aston Villa.
Whilst his debut against his former club was solid enough the next game away at Swansea saw him make a catastrophic error as his back pass was intercepted and Swansea scored. The concerns about his ability were vehemently talked about amongst the supporters especially as he was keeping out James Tomkins.
Collins has a certain style of defending which took a bit of getting used to due to its rugged nature and how composure is not a word that you would use when describing him.
The early season form was a little concerning with another mistake at home to Sunderland leading to a goal being conceded.
But he got better and the form improved. There was another blip against Reading at the Madjeski when his back pass again lead to a goal but after that mistake I think we saw the best of James Collins. If Reid had not been consistent for the majority of the season Collins in the end would have got my vote for hammer of the year as I believe he saved us countless times in the second half of our season.
His fearlessness and willingness to get in front of anything could only be matched by Scott Parker if we are thinking of players from modern times.
He scored two goals in the FA Cup 3rd Round game against Manchester United as Joe Cole supplied the crosses for two almost identical headers and Collins went on to have a magnificent end to the season.
For me his best display came away at Anfield in the 0-0 against Liverpool. With the lively Luis Suarez up front for the scousers it had been believed that it would be a long day for Collins but he on a few occasions made Suarez look silly and bossed the game.
Collins received a lot of criticism early in the season and whilst he will always be liable to produce the odd mistake his overall displays have been excellent and he for me was our signing of the season.
Appearences: League 29 Cup 1 Goals: 2 Bookings: 9 Verdict: A few mistakes early on were made up by multiple superb defensive displays.
It has been an injury hit season for McCartney who came into the season as our first choice left back. Having been the first choice starter as we kicked off the season an injury saw him miss one game and struggle to reclaim his place back in the side as Joey O’Brien was performing well.
With O’Brien himself getting injured McCartney was recalled for the home game against Arsenal and started the following six league games with the away defeat at Tottenham in November being the last time he started a match for West Ham. Injury would keep out for the rest of the season although he did come on as a 78th minute substitute against West Brom in March but he suffered further injury which saw him out again.
With the signing of Razvan Rat and that Joey O’Brien has shown himself more than capable in that position I am unsure what the future holds for McCartney who has served the club well in both spells at the club.
He signed a two year contract last summer which of course means he has a year to run but I would not be surprised if he moved on given his age and the fact that first team opportunities may be limited.
Appearances: League 9 (+3 Sub) Cup: 1 Bookings: 2
Having not signed another natural left back in the summer and with only George McCartney as the senior player in that position I had thought that Potts would see more game time than he actually did.
Potts was in the starting line-up for half of the Pre-Season games so again my thoughts were that he was going to be involved but it was Joey O’Brien who got the nod all season long. He was shipped out on loan to League One side Colchester United in November but recalled in Janaury.
Potts did have a three game stint which saw him start against Manchester United in the FA Cup (twice) and Sunderland in the league but it was clear after those games that Sam Allardyce thought he was not yet ready to be thrown in on a permanent basis.
Potts suffered a heavy collision away at Arsenal in a 5-1 defeat which Allardyce used as a smokescreen to take the heat off a big loss. With this injury Allardyce brought in Emanuel Pogatetz on loan as cover and Potts was not included in another squad for the rest of the season.
In the games he did play I can’t say I ever found myself impressed. In the FA Cup tie at home to Manchester United many of the fans were happy with his display yet I believed he was the weak link in our side despite putting in a brave performance.
Away at Sunderland he was (like most of the side) atrocious and was at fault for the second goal making an error which led to us conceding.
Having only turned 19 in April it is too early to write him off and from what I have seen I believe he has what it takes to make it at the top level but whether he will get his chance next season I am unsure.
A loan move to a championship club couldn’t do him any harm and this is where I think we will see him go next season.
Appearances: League: 1(+1Sub) Cup: 4
At the end of January Pogatetz was signed on loan from German side Wolfsburg for the rest of the season as cover due to our injuries in defensive areas.
He made his debut against Swansea City at Upton Park when he came on as a substitute in the 90th minute. He would make his first and only start in the following game away at Aston Villa where West Ham put in a horrible performance although Pogatetz despite looking a bit nervy was far from the worst of our players.
It was the next game which I feel would end up defining him and that was at home to Tottenham when he came on as a 72nd minute sub, replacing Guy Demel.
The moment he came on we fell apart and the anonoymous Aaron Lennon had now become a main part of the Spurs play as they just focused on Pogatetz and tore him a new one.
It was such a noticeable performance that Pogatetz instantly became disliked and a subject of much abuse every other time we saw he was about to come on but thankfully we only had to see him as a sub three more times.
His loan was terminated before the season was ended and we hope never to see this steaming pile of poo every again.
Appearances: League 1 (+5 Sub) Bookings: 2
The remarkable story of Joey O’Brien continues as he has gone on to play a big part in our season and started a remarkable 32 league games.
If you had told me before the start of the season that Joey O’Brien would be as involved as he has been I would have been very surprised.
It is difficult to dislike O’Brien as he put everything into his performances yet we are all aware that he is nothing particularly special.
Every club needs players like O’Brien and he has not only done a job but done it generally quite well. For a player who was a centre midfielder in his early career then played most of last season at right back he has adapted well to the left back position that he has filled for the majority of the campaign.
He likes to get forward too and scored two goals which saw him finish well with both as he scored against Stoke and Norwich at Upton Park.
To move forward as a club you always want better players than the likes of Joey O’Brien but it is also important to have players like him in the squad who can play in a number of positions and very rarely let you down when he is called upon.
For a team who has based most of their success on the defensive aspect of their game Joey O’Brien can look back and know that he was part of a defence who has done very well this season.
Apperances: League: 32 (+1 Sub) Cup: 1 Goals: 2 Bookings: 6 Verdict: Solid and dependable all season long and will be in around the first team next season I am sure.
Part 2 will be up in a few days time and will focus on the Midfield.