West Ham striker leaves for Bristol City - a victim of Sam’s 4-5-1 formation

Hammers front man Sam Baldock has dropped back down to the Championship with Bristol City

For those eagle-eyed readers of West Ham’s official match-day programme they will have spotted something significant on the back page.

Looking down the list of West Ham squad players there was a distinct lack of a number seven.

A clerical error? Apparently not because just three days later it was confirmed that striker Sam Baldock had left to join Bristol City in a three-year deal.

The former MK Dons player had a very fruitful pre-season, scoring four goals along the way, but with new players coming in and manager Sam Allardyce keen to keep his 4-5-1 formation for the Premier League, the chances were getting fewer and fewer for Baldock.

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The 23-year-old striker scored five goals in 24 appearances for the Hammers last season, but 13 of those games were ones where he came off the bench and as the season wore on, his chances became even more limited.

Baldock thrived on sitting on the shoulder of the last defender and using his pace to get into scoring positions, but too often forced to play on the flank, or coming on when West Ham were struggling, things just didn’t work out for the striker.

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The deal is reputed to be just over �1 million, which will represent a loss on the �2m that the Hammers paid for the player last summer.

The hard-working and thoughtful front man was keen to show his appreciation to the West Ham supporters.

“I would like to thank the fans for always supporting and encouraging me,” he said.

“The fans are what make the club so special and are the driving force behind its success.

“There are some really great people involved in the football club who I wish every success for, and I also wish the team every success.”

With Baldock now gone, Allardyce would like out of favour striker Freddie Piquionne to follow suit in the next few days.

There has been interest from both Leeds United and Brighton, but the stumbling block is the wages for the player, who has one year left on his contract.

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