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Building a fortress

Filed: Saturday, 18th August 2012
By: Tom Kilbey

Last season, our indifferent home form was heavily highlighted.

We might have won 11 of our matches at the Boleyn, but anyone who frequented the stadium would agree that, at times, the football was far from pretty. Our lack of creativity was regularly exposed when we were forced to take the game to other sides.

Looking ahead to this season, our home form may be critical to our success, and ultimately our survival. Below, I'll outline a few reasons why I think our home form won't be a hinderance next season, and why this will contribute to our survival.

1). History tells a story

Previous Premier League seasons tell us that we've always had to rely on our home form. After a ridiculous run, spanning 26 away games and acheiving the dubious honour of being the second-longest winless run in the history of the Premier League, our away form has never been anything to write home about.

With the exception of the 2010/11 season, we have always pulled results out of the bag against top clubs, and do just about enough at home, and I expect us to claim some more scalps this season which will make up for any lack of points we might encounter away from home.

2). It's hard to compare the Championship and the Premier League

Its a illogical statement to say that because we dropped lots of points at home in the Championship, we'll do the same in the PL. Take Norwich from two seasons ago. They picked up just four more points than we did at home, but enjoyed fantastic success the following season at Carrow Road, picking up an impressive 27 points.

Although the players in the Premier League are obviously technically superior, many other factors play into our hands. The expectation is massive, the motivation isn't always there, and almost every team came to Upton Park last year with no pressure, and with West Ham in their mind as their biggest potential scalp of the season. But the main factor that will change our fortune next season is Sam's tactics.

3). Big Sam's style of play

Despite all the mixed feeling towards Allardyce amongst fans, the vast majority would agree on one word to describe him: stubborn. On occassions, it worked in his favour, and ultimately resulted in our promotion. But at times, even his biggest fan must have been infuriated by his tactics, especially at home.

Sitting back at home against the likes of Doncaster and Watford, and playing the ball long when we had the likes of Nolan, Collison, Lansbury and Noble in our midfield just didn't make any sense, and ultimately resulted in poor results, and even worse performances. Our style of play will suit us when teams bring the game to us, which the better sides will, and hopefully the addition of a couple of techically gifted creative midfielders will allow us to break down teams on the rare occasions they decide to park the proverbial bus.

4). The Fans

I thought the idea that the Hammers fans were contributing to poor performances at Upton Park last season was fairly ridiculous. Granted, the atmosphere wasn't always great, but it was hardly Ewood Park. What's more, the fans weren't disgruntled for the sake of complaining, and those that chose to show their disapproval at the team's performanced felt obliged to do so. That being said, if we can create the atmosphere of a few years back with the help of some good performances on the pitch, I believe the fans can once again be the 12th man and help us pick up a few extra points.

All these factors should help contribute to a successful home campaign next season. Although it's a side point, I think we can continue our success away from Upton Park this season. If we can stay solid at the back, there's reason to expect a few good away results next year. BFS's tactics are perfect for playing away, and hopefully we can capitalise on experiences last season to ensure we pick up points even when we're away from the Boleyn.

That all being said, I think its absolutely essential we get off to a good start, and a good performance against Aston Villa will give us the perfect platform for a successful season. So when the whistle blows at 3pm this afternoon, let's make sure we play our part in making Upton Park a fortress this season!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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