Julian Dicks' column

Echo: Julian Dicks. Julian Dicks.

AT THE start of the season I think the main aim for West Ham was just keeping their place in the Premier League, but I now think they are capable of a top half finish.

I watched the Southampton game because I was reporting on it for the radio and, to be honest, West Ham were awful in the first half.

Sam Allardyce obvious-ly said something to them at half-time and they pressured Southampton after the break and got their rewards.

And in the end they ran out comfortable winners.

So that second-half display, and performances like the one they put in at home to Sunderland, shows me they are capable of finishing halfway up that table or above.

If they can keep the likes of Kevin Nolan, Mo Diame, Andy Carroll and Mark Noble fit then they have got a great chance.

And I’m sure when the window opens again in January Sam will go out and add a couple more players to what always looks like a good squad.

But for West Ham to think about a top half finish they need to go to places like Wigan on Saturday and win.

The memory of Wigan coming back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 and relegate us is still fresh in my mind.

And they obviously turned over a weakened West Ham side in the league cup earlier this season.

But I’m not a lover of Wigan and the way they scrape by every year.

And I think Sam will put out a full strength side and we’ll pay them back a bit on Saturday.

* It was interesting to see an MP calling for football fans to switch their support to non-league clubs as a protest against the high cost of tickets in the Premier League.

But I can’t see fans who’ve followed the likes of West Ham, Manchester United and Liverpool all their lives doing that.

It is expensive and I think it should be more affordable for families, but there are many who go to work all week so they can go to Premier League games.

And I don’t think it is as simple as just going to see a non-league game, because some games in the Conference will cost you £15 or £20.

So football is expensive full stop, and I know some people who support West Ham but can’t afford to go — which is a shame.

It would be fantastic to think that anyone could go and watch matches in the Premier League or Championship, regardless of their income, but that’s just not the reality at the moment.

* l saw a replay of the Leeds fan running on the pitch and assaulting Sheffield Wednesday keeper Chris Kirkland, and I thought it was disgusting.

I believe the guy has been banged up for four months — and rightly so. In fact I don’t think he should ever be able to go to a ground and watch a football game again.

The majority of football fans are well behaved, so it’s a shame when you get people like him giving the game a bad name.

The positive is that this sort of thing is only ever an isolated incident now. When I was playing for West Ham and Birmingham in the early days there were fights on the terraces, but you don’t see that now.

So I think things have moved forward, even if incidents like this remind us it is not gone completely.

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