Fans' Opinion

The sad decline of Winston Reid; A tip of the hat to a once fine defender

Author: . Published: at 9:05am

Written by: Nick Moore

Winston Reid will be forever known to West Ham fans as the scorer of that goal.

10th May 2016 – his header powering past De Gea was part of the wonderful ending, in one of the great games, a winning goal and the last ever goal at the Boleyn.

These days he is a problem in the squad. He is on a good contract that has three years left to run. Injuries as well as age have taken their toll. He is 31 going on 32 in June. He has had injury issues for a long time even before the knee injury that has stopped him playing any first team football in the last two years.

He made it on to the bench this year but didn’t get on. He started three games with the under 23s. Tellingly, he didn’t complete any of them. Realistically we are unlikely to see him playing first team football again. He is out on loan in the States now with us still paying most of his wages.

He didn’t start well either. He joined from Danish club FC Midtjylland after scoring for New Zealand in the World Cup. In the first season he looked like he was going to prove the old football line about not signing a player on the basis of their performance in a World Cup. That though was Avram Grant’s relegation season when just about everyone except Parker was crap. Grant’s leadership was shambolic. And the team reflected the manager. Winston only started 7 league games and 12 games in all, and often looked out of his depth.

Reid stayed and benefited from the better defensive organisation under Sam Allardyce. He scored the winner in February 2012 against Millwall. That’s as good a way as any to make you popular with the fans. He ended the season partnering James Tompkins at centre back in the winning play off final at Wembley.

The next season, back in the premier league, he opted not to go with New Zealand to the Olympics and do his pre-season at the club.  At the end of that season after 36 league appearances – his best in his entire career – he was Hammer of the Year.

He didn’t score a lot of goals. He did score one at Tottenham. One he scored later against Sunderland at the new stadium that lives in my memory was a late winner in one of those games we should win but often don’t.

But to only remember the goals of a defender is to do him a great disservice. In his pomp he was a good proper defender who would have improved the defences of almost every side in the Premier League. Defenders never get the credit the way forwards do as great defending is often about stopping players playing, marking well, and not getting caught out. Great defending can be invisible. Reid was also good at getting his mates out of trouble.

He was good, a strong defender and surprisingly mobile for a big man. He was our best defender for about 4 seasons. He was the player our defence was built around.

When there were rumours he might leave he negotiated the big contract that will now be a problem till it runs down. In the current climate no one is going to buy him or pay the kind of wages he is on.  To be honest there has been little to say in recent seasons as his back and his knee have given out. Having played 17 games in the 2017 -18 season, he has played no first team games since.

Having already had an ankle injury that required surgery earlier in his career he also seemed to have back issues that began to affect his mobility and weaken his game. Then he got his knee injury at Swansea when he was knocked unconscious as well. Since then nothing and we probably won’t see him again.

But he is the kind of defender that footballing sides need. And though his ending is not going to be great, he did contribute seriously to the team. Players don’t always get a chance to say goodbye and that seems to be Winston’s fate as he only gets on the bench in a crisis. But he did play well for us for several years – so a tip of the hat in recognition of a lot of fine defending and of course that goal.

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