Ten games in and with a two week international break it's a good time to review progress at Upton Park. Two defeats in ten isn't too bad a record and we could have had four extra points were it not for last minute goals. Unbeaten away is some change from the side that blew a two goal lead at Wigan and made Avram Grant a Millwall legend.
Big Sam has bought or loaned 12 players, most of whom are older and experienced in the Premiership. Can Premier League players automatically transfer their class to the Championship? Not always, Michael Carrick was bypassed for much of his season among the cloggers. Though hopefully the type of players we have signed are more robust than MC.
O'Brien has probably been the pick of our signings, appearing to finally solve the right-back problem. Nolan hasn't found top form but has still scored three goals, while McCartney looks a great loan signing at left-back. Amdy Faye has looked solid at centre-back and Henri Lansbury has shown some touches of class. Matt Taylor started really well before succumbing to injury and loss of form, while Carew will surely convert anything we sling at him in the air.
The jury is still out on Bentley, though he's shown flashes of skill, while Baldock, Diop, Montenegro and Demel have played too few games to be judged yet.
Of the old players, Rob Green has had a great season, Tomkins has been excellent and Reid much better. Noble has underperformed a little, while Collison is still playing his way into form. Carlton Cole had a good run of four in four and appears much more motivated. While poor Freddie Piquionne has been dropped, done for fly-tipping in Essex and sent off.
Lack of pace is still a worry and you do wonder if we can play all season with five in midfield - though interestingly the two games we've lost have been when Sam has played two strikers.
But ten games in, the wage bill is down, we've got rid of most of the relegation hangover and finally have some competition for places. Time for some cautious optimism, perhaps?
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