West Ham's bubbles may have been popped over Christmas and the New Yearbut when their manager, Alan Pardew, stared into his champagne glass on Saturday night he was entitled to view it as half full rather than half empty.
"It's been a good year for West Ham," he said, after a match where his side had lacked the means to punish opponents still in a state of shock after their own recent plummeting form. "We still find ourselves in the top half of the table and above Charlton even though we've lost here today. Our goal now is to do even better in the second half of the season.''
If West Ham are to succeed in that ambition they will need to have regular access to the talents of such as Teddy Sheringham, absent over Christmas with a calf injury, and the midfielder Yossi Benayoun, who was fit enough to play half an hour at the Valley and demonstrate how vital he is to the Hammers' creativity.
Pardew, just like Charlton's Alan Curbishley, is seeking to do business now that the January transfer window is open and has already secured Benayoun's Israel international colleague Yaniv Katan to augment his forward resources.
West Ham's performance in that area on Saturday was hugely frustrating as Marlon Harewood, despite the occasional flash of improvisation, spent most of his time running down blind alleys as the intelligent movement of his forward partner Jérémie Aliadière went to waste.
The visitors' defence was equally unconvincing and they allowed their hosts to break free and score with their first attack in the 21st minute. Darren Bent was allowed to rampage down the right and Shaun Bartlett was left free to shoot home via the crossbar at the far post.
Even when Bent headed home Chris Powell's cross in the 73rd minute there was still no sense that a Charlton side who had lost seven of their previous eight matches believed that all three points were theirs. But West Ham were unable to take advantage.
With the Premiership champions coming to Upton Park today, West Ham's players will have to concentrate their minds. "We have got to shape up defensively and we don't have much time to sort that out,'' Pardew said.
Curbishley - who dismissed the rumour that his midfielder Danny Murphy, suspended for this match, wanted a transfer - was anything but triumphant in victory. "I feel drained,'' he said. "I just wanted the game to end. To win only one game in eight is really painful and you could feel the anxiety even at 2-0 up.
"It's amazing what confidence can do - it's what it's all about in football. We had gallons and gallons of it in the first eight or nine games but after this run we've been left a bit dry. Does confidence breed results or is it the other way round? Either way we need both of them.''
Charlton will have their work cut out to create any impetus at Everton today. West Ham's recovery may have to be put on temporary hold.Reuse content