Freddie Sears, a player who had only ever scored one goal for West Ham, on his debut in March 2008, a player who had had relatively unsuccessful loan spells at Crystal Palace, Coventry and Scunthorpe in the past couple of seasons, reignites West Ham’s flagging season in three games. It’s an unlikely tale, but since being recalled by the Hammers on December 21st, Sears has been in scintillating form, and grabbed a deserved goal in the vital 2-0 win over relegation rivals Wolves at Upton Park on New Year’s Day.
I must admit, when I saw Sears’ name on the team sheet against Fulham on Boxing Day, I felt that this was perhaps the final throw of the dice from a desperate man in the shape of Avram Grant. Either the Israeli was very lucky, or very, very astute, because by playing wide right in a very attacking 4-4-2, or what could even be described as 4-2-4, Sears has excelled along with his fellow academy graduate, Junior Stanislas, who has been playing on the opposite flank.
But could it solely be Sears’ influence that has caused the turn around in fortunes at Upton Park? Of course not, but I believe he has played a big part. Through his endeavours on loan, although not particularly successful, Sears has managed to actually play first team football, gaining the experience vital to his footballing progression, and this was evident from the start. His performance against Fulham, just five days after he was recalled from Scunthorpe, was a man-of-the-match worthy outing, and showed his desire.
Having been out of the first team for quite some time, Sears must have been wondering when his chance would come again, and with Avram Grant’s job on the line, he must have envisaged a new manager coming in and another season on loan in the offing. So when Grant gave him the opportunity, he really needed to take it, not just for his own career, but for the club as well. Good performances and good results meant that the status quo would be maintained; with Sears in the starting line-up, and Grant in charge, and so it has proved, as Sears also started the matches against both Everton and Wolves.
Sears’ inclusion may not be the overriding reason for West Ham’s Christmas renaissance (I believe that may lie in a formation and attitude change) but his inclusion has certainly breathed life into a West Ham side that were staring at the Championship through the long months before May.