I stole the title of this piece from a headline I remember on the back of a tabloid newspaper quite a few years ago. It read ‘Stop The World – We Want to Get off’. It was 1990 and I’d returned home for the summer after my first year of University. The World Cup was in full flow and it was the day after Scotland had been beaten 1-0 by minnows, as they were considered then, Costa Rica. June 12, I believe it was.
It was a humbling experience for Scotland who beforehand had thought that with Sweden as their last fixture in a group that also contained Brazil there was a great chance for them to progress to the knockout stages for the first time.
Alas it was not to be, but that headline has stuck in my mind since, up there with SuperCaleygoballisticCelticar eatrocious, the famous headline in The Sun. Anyway, I digress. The reason I brought it up was because that headline summed up the hopes and dreams of Scottish football fans across the world that had been crushed (once again) by a disastrous performance. And that leads me to the present day to West Ham and a similar feeling that’s developed after the first half of the season.
Looking back to August and optimism was high. We’d had a good solid first season back in the top flight, appeared to have made some decent summer signings and seemed in good shape to build on the achievements of the previous year while casting an eye towards the move towards the Olympic Stadium. Fast forward four months and the reality is very much different.
Poor performance follows poor performance, the seasonal injury crisis has struck again, the excuses from Sam are wearing very thin and the prospect of relegation looms larger with every match we fail to take maximum points from. How many of us believed we’d be candidates for relegation this season when we were looking ahead to kick off back in midAugust?
There may have been a fleeting thought here and there when the usual West Ham doubt set in but overall, I think most of us considered a similar achievement level to last season was a definite, with a challenge for the Europa League a possibility. The worry, as we take on Arsenal on Boxing Day and West Brom on Saturday, is looking back to our performance against Sunderland where we were, quite frankly, outplayed at home by the team that is bottom of the league, without an away win and only two points all season.
And what did Sam harp on about? His delight at keeping a clean sheet. It is terrific, yes, and Jussi has played very well, but I don’t think our goalkeeper should be star man when we’re playing Sunderland at home for goodness sake. So can we hold out any hope against Arsenal? Well there is always hope but reality suggests we should let this one go and concentrate all our resources on ensuring a vital three points against WBA on Saturday in the early kick off.
Obviously one cannot advocate playing a weakened or under-strength side but I’m sure a little shuffling of the pack might suit – give some of our younger members of the squad the Christmas present of a day out in the first team while ensuring those that are fit remain fit for Saturday. So rather than be pessimistic about our chances, let’s create a party. If you’re heading to the match, keep going with the festive cheer, make it a fun atmosphere on Green Street
If you’re not stick on the Christmas jumper, open another packet of mince pies, uncork a bottle of wine, stick the turkey leftovers on a plate for later and have a terrific Boxing Day. And predictions on the result? I guess there’s no chance a tube strike could help us? No, only last year, then? OK.