While other players may have grabbed the headlines in West Ham’s successful campaign, one of the East London club’s unsung heroes has been Winston Reid. The centre-back is in his sixth season at Upton Park and is someone who has made steady progress over the years with this campaign certainly one of his most impressive.
Reid is 27 now and is one of the club’s longest serving players having first featured prominently during their promotion from the Championship in the 2011-2012 season. He was voted West Ham’s player of the season in their first term back in the top flight too but has had one or two serious injury set-backs since which have hampered his progress.
Although he is by no means a ball-playing centre-half which is perhaps at odds with the so-called ‘West Ham way’ he has been a popular figure at Upton Park thanks to his desire and commitment to the cause and all-round defensive qualities.
Reid gets on with his job and has been a stand-out performer in some of West Ham’s most significant wins since Slaven Bilic took charge last summer.
Perhaps his best two showings have come in tough away games in Manchester with West Ham winning 2-1 at the Etihad and drawing 0-0 at Old Trafford. He also performed very well as the Hammers won and kept clean sheets at Arsenal and Liverpool in the opening weeks of the season.
The only downside for Reid is that he has missed 14 of West Ham’s 32 Premier League games due to several injuries including a couple of hamstring issues that kept him out for about a month each time.
He is back to full fitness now though and is certain to start as Manchester United come to town for the final ever FA Cup match at Upton Park this Wednesday, which is sure to be a very special occasion.
Reid’s value to West Ham goes beyond the fact that he has developed into a very good centre-back. He is also a leader and has captained New Zealand on several occasions while with James Collins turning 33 this year, the Kiwi has gradually taken over the mantle of West Ham’s most important defender and certainly key organiser in an otherwise fairly youthful back-line.
He is the club’s vice captain and much like the skipper, Mark Noble, he is someone who is getting the very best out of the natural ability with which he was blessed. There are many examples of teams in the Premier League that appear to be a bit short on leadership, but that is certainly something that can’t be thrown at West Ham and is one of the reasons they are doing so well.
The selfless approach and leadership qualities of team-players Noble and Reid are the perfect complement to the flare of the likes of Payet and Lanzini and West Ham just seem to have a really good blend right now and if Andy Carroll can repeat his goal-scoring antics from the weekend they might yet get back into top four contention and will be a real threat in the FA Cup if they can get past Man United this week.
Lack of hype suits him well
Winston Reid’s name might not be one that people immediately think of when it comes to naming the Premier League’s best central defenders but the relative lack of hype surrounding him probably suits West Ham just fine and aside from the exceptional Payet, he has been one of their stars of the season.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
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