It’s hard to believe we are rapidly approaching the end of yet another season – a season again of a few highs and quite a lot more absurd lows which is par for the course for a West Ham fan.
It never ceases to amaze me how football can create extremes of emotion week in week out, thinking back to watching in disbelief as we turned over Tottenham at White Hart Lane and then watching in equal disbelief across the Christmas period. Safe to say I think there has been a lot more low points this season than high points and looking back on things I actually think it’s more of a relief that the argument between BEIN Sports and the Football Association meant that I was shielded from some particularly miserable Saturday evenings.
As we go in to the last four matches, though, we can at least be satisfied that we will be playing Premier League football again next season. This may not have been the season we had hoped for back in August and again questions must be asked as to how we suffer a perennial injury crisis that dashes our hopes of achieving some sort of silverware in a season, or a better league placing than the previous season, which I’m sure has to be the goal for any club.
Indeed, I had a sneaky thought that this year we could have won the Capital One Cup and even placed a wager before the start of the season that this would be the year we would do so. For a while it appeared that this could happen and, in fact, there were worrying signs that our season was beginning to mirror that of the Avram Grant debacle especially as we slid alarmingly into the bottom three so at least we can all be thankful that it has not turned out that way.
I was always concerned as we languished in the bottom three not so long ago that our last two games of the season may have been incredibly important and worryingly difficult to get anything out of and doom us to a disastrous return to the Championship. Of course, at that time, I was not looking at the run-ins of the teams around us and now having seen what other teams are facing I can only be delighted that we are not fans of Norwich City.
So how will this weekend’s match turn out? This is going to be an interesting one. When I looked at the fixture list way back in July when it was published and saw the two teams we were playing at the end I spotted this game and marked it as a three point banker to take any pressure we might have been under off.
Then when we played Palace away, Tony Pulis had just been installed as their manager and I did think we were going to be in for a tough time as it proved with our 1-0 defeat. Since he has come in, he has tightened up their defence immensely, and created a team that is tough to beat and fear no-one. Just ask Jose Mourinho what that’s like.
Conversely, the fact that Crystal Palace have reached the position they are in could help us as subconsciously they will know they are all but safe too. What I do hope though is that this does not mean we have a drab ‘end of season’ affair to mooch over and start wishing the season was over already.
It would be great if for once we just handsomely beat someone, give a team a good hiding a la Tottenham to give us all a joyous Saturday night. I don’t think it will happen this weekend as both teams will continue with strong defensive performances but what we can do is attempt to secure ourselves in the top half of the Premier League because that sure looks a lot better than featuring in the bottom half. How many of us would have taken that in the dark days of January? I certainly would. Enjoy the game!