West Ham vs West Brom report: New West Brom manager Tony Pulis watches on as Baggies fight back

West Ham 1 West Brom 1: Sakho had put the Hammers ahead

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The Independent Football

Tony Pulis looked on from the stands and will have been inspired by what he saw. West Ham controlled long periods of the match, but they were vulnerable, and they could still have lost it.

Having taken the lead at a canter in the tenth minute, West Ham began to play perhaps with a little too much confidence. Four minutes before half time they were over-committed in attack, as you should never be with a lead of a single goal, and a swift counter attack was created by Stephane Sessegnon and finished by Saido Berahino.

Pulis is rumoured to be on a million pound bonus if he keeps West Brom up. If he loses that money it will flash before his eyes on the day he dies. They are not even close to being among the worst three sides in this season’s Premier League. Even if they no longer have their England international forward Berahino come the end of January, as looks increasingly likely, they have more than enough quality to survive. If Sessegnon alone consistently plays at anything approaching his best for the remainder of the season, they should be spared the nerve-jangling worst of the relegation battle.


It will be interesting to see how Pulis asserts himself on this talented collection of players. He is best known, of course, for the brutality of his Stoke side, who played with four centre halves all along the back line, and crashed long balls forward to often devastating effect. But his Palace side was far more cultured, and the West Brom team he inherits bears more than a passing resemblance to it.


For West Ham’s part, Upton Park was the quietest it has been all season, and with the air of a hangover about it.

It was noisy enough on ten minutes, when a cut back from Aaron Cresswell found the end of Diafra Sakho’s surging run who clipped into the right hand corner of the net. It was a goal entirely typical of a new look West Ham, the ball played fast and low.

Saido Berahino celebrates the equaliser

It is a style alien to the strengths of the club’s record signing Andy Carroll, who now starts every match, and is very much Sam Allardyce’s main man. He barrelled about, leapt, and clattered fearsomely into the West Brom defence, but to what effect?

West Ham brought in Teddy Sheringham at the start of the season as an attacking coach with a brief to get West Ham playing in what the club like to think of as the West Ham way. It has worked. But it has worked best in Carroll’s absence.

What few fans remained booed loudly on the full time whistle. That’s four points from their four festive matches - relegation form. The afternoons start getting sunnier from now on, and a big chunk of daylight has appeared between West Ham and the top four, where they spent a lot of the first half of the season. Their fans will have every right to wonder whether the future is as bright as it looked not that long ago.