Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Connolly Top of the Class; West Ham's Business Student Is Our Footballer of the Month

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Connolly Top of the Class; West Ham's Business Student Is Our Footballer of the Month

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL HART

AMID the blur of changing faces at West Ham this season one of the few familiar and enduring images has been that of striker David Connolly.

No one has played more games and, following the sale last week of Jermain Defoe to Tottenham, nobody has now scored more goals for the Hammers this season.

Connolly's 11th of the campaign helped dump Premiership Wolves out of the FA Cup and secure Saturday's intriguing fifth-round visit to Fulham at Loftus Road.

His consistency has provided the foundations for manager Alan Pardew's rebuilding programme and wins him the Evening Standard Footballer of the Month award for January.

When West Ham beat Fulham 1-0 at Loftus Road last season, Connolly, who is also doing a degree in business management, was putting together a 24-goal run at Wimbledon - aided by Nigel Reo-Coker, Jobi McAnuff and Adam Nowland.

All now wear the claret and blue shirt while only three of the West Ham team that beat Fulham that day remain to carry the First Division's challenge into the latter stages of the FA Cup this weekend.

Such is the transient nature of modern football that eight of that West Ham team have gone, including Ian Pearce who moved to Cup opponents Fulham and, of course, the recently-departed Defoe.

"Jermain's a fabulous player and we'll miss him," said Connolly. "When I arrived it worked really well with us playing up front together.

"He was so sharp and bright.

It raises the bar in training when you work with high-class players like that.

"With Bobby Zamora joining us, we still have the same complement of strikers and the same competition for places.

But there's no doubt that a goalscorer of Jermain's quality will be missed."

Connolly's unexpectedly warm appraisal of his goalscoring rival reveals something of his complex nature, although I have little doubt that Defoe's departure will give Connolly a greater claim to the exclusive poaching rights in opposition penalty areas. …

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