I don’t like the word ‘penultimate’. It makes me feel like something sad is about to happen.
Well, this is the penultimate home game of the season ahead of the penultimate season at Upton Park, so I guess I’m justified in my dislike. As near the end of the 13/14 season, I thought it’d be a good time to look back at West Ham’s campaign from a footballing and personal perspective, as well as take a quick look at what has been another fascinating Premier League season.
Let’s start with what we’re most interested in, how the Hammers have fared out so far. It’s been a bit of a disappointment when we compare it to last season’s 10th place, which had us all amazed and excited for the year to come. I guess that common “Second Season Syndrome” kicked in after all.
We haven’t failed this year, which is the important thing. Yeah, all right, we all want to see nicer football, but especially for this season, I’m content to have sacrificed that to stay in the Premier League.
Style and performance is something that can be worked on but facing gritty challenges in the Championship every week is both losing money and failing to progress. We had a decent League Cup run this year, which seemed to do confidence the world of good for a while.
We did similar to what Manchester United have done in the Champions League and played with less pressure and expectation, and it seemed to pay off. Until we were unlucky enough to be drawn against Man City.
I had City down as firm title contenders from the start. In fact, I quite wanted them to win it. They still might, but without my well wishes any more. We were absolutely played off the park at the Etihad in the first leg of the League Cup semifinal, and even then I wanted our opponents to lift the Premier League trophy. I thought it’d be lovely to watch their silky smooth play and to have lovely football win the league. But then they got a bit, well, boring.
So we all know the nature of our humiliating dumping out of the League Cup, and the FA Cup wasn’t that different. I won’t say the defeat to Nottingham Forest was more embarrassing, because we did something that the fans had been urging Big Sam to do for ages, and that was play the youngsters. It was televised as well, so we all had the pleasure of watching an abysmal 90 minutes against the Championship side.
Our league run hasn’t quite offered the heartache of either cup runs. Our biggest league defeat so far has been by three goals (albeit on more than one occasion), and a few performances have been worthy of actually watching, unlike shipping five goals against Forest. It’s hard to look back at the season for me, because I’ve not been to many games, which is unusual for me. But next season, regardless of the end to this one, I’ll be back!
But I have to say in years to come, it won’t be a season I remember. I won’t look back and think about all of the memorable games, not like the last few years. If I could sum it up in a word, I’d probably use “meh”! Although the highlight of the season was most definitely the whole month of February, in which we didn’t actually have Andy Carroll at our disposal. but I got such a buzz from those four wins. That month pretty much saved our season, and gave us something great to smile about.
I might remember the 13/14 Premier League in general for its incredible title race, one more open than I’ve ever seen. Add to that the most scrappy bottom half with at times only a few points separating 11th from the relegation zone, then you’d have to say it’s been a pretty interesting few months. The biggest change this year has been the lack of Fergie. I wish David Moyes well at Man Utd, simply because I want him to prove that the club wasn’t all about Sir Alex Ferguson, and that someone else can bring those players to their potential. But for this year, the lack of Red Devils at the top has been a welcome change.
We might see Liverpool win the league, something that I couldn’t have predicted from the start, but they have just got the most unbelievable strike force. Any team would pay any money for that kind of skill and consistency. But it’s not over yet. There are still scores to be settled at the top, bottom and middle of the Premier League, and from a footballing perspective, that will make for a brilliant end to the season. Then following that, at least we have a World Cup to look forward to, hopefully with at least one West Ham name in there. With poor ol’ Jay Rodriguez laid up for the summer, big Andy Carroll might get his call up after all.
This season has done it’s job. It might not be a pretty job with cherries on top, but West Ham look to have sealed their Premier League status for next season at least, the penultimate one at our beloved Boleyn.