Something horrendous has happened and it has made me question my footballing life.
You see, at the time of writing, the last match involving West Ham was the 1-0 defeat against Crystal Palace at home. To be honest, before the game, my hopes were not exactly sky high. We’d performed poorly since our crucial away win against Sunderland and although we were playing against high calibre opposition we could have expected better displays. Granted that Tony Pulis had galvanized Crystal Palace to such an extent that they were safe going into the game and their turnaround under him has been so impressive. It’s perfectly acceptable that Jose Mourinho suggested he should be a leading contender for Manager of the Year.
So what was so horrendous apart from the result? Well, perhaps, it’s the fact that I just did not care. As soon as the little note flashed up on the bottom of my TV screen whilst watching another quite entertaining Premier League match I knew then and there we had lost it. It had ‘inevitable’ written all over it. This time, though, I didn’t freak out. I didn’t hurl abuse at the TV. I didn’t sit glued to the text commentary praying we’d score – because I knew we wouldn’t.
I don’t think I have been so blasÃ© about a West Ham United result since the days of 2002 when at least I had the option of trudging off to the Queens and drinking away the misery. So here we are with the last game home game of the season approaching I feel nothing. We have limped to safety. We have done ‘enough’. Just.
It shouldn’t be this way. Rewinding back to last summer and hopes were high for the season. We seemed to be doing well in the transfer market — we were buying players at least — and there was a feeling we’d kick on from last season. A routine victory in the opening game of the season boosted that thought but things rapidly spiraled downhill from there. The warning signs were posted the next game with an incredibly tedious performance against Newcastle, so dull was it, that I spent most of my time chatting to a guy about the swimming championships his son was competing in rather than taking in the match.
Poor results came thick and fast and bad news on the injury front to Carroll filtered through. The brief respite with the terrific victory against Tottenham proved a false dawn and things, as we know, plunged further into the mire. Thank goodness for February, which basically saved us, although we certainly rode our luck in a couple of those matches. So, here we are, limping towards the end of the season, grateful that we did enough back then to see us over the finish line. In no way, though, is it satisfactory.
I write this on the day that an article was published where Sam admitted things must change but not by much. This is not good enough. Things need to change a lot. Let me digress slightly. I work in radio. I present a daily show. Granted, I have to toe the line in certain ways to appease the commercial aspect of what I do. Often I have to downgrade what I’d like to do so as to not upset those that are paying my wages directly.
Ultimately, though, I am judged by my ratings. If I turned up everyday and went through the motions, people would quickly tire of listening. That would then filter through to listener surveys and after a two or perhaps three results that showed people were fast disappearing I’m sure my days would be numbered. So why’s it different here? OK, yes, it is of paramount importance that we remain in the top flight. The most essential thing after promotion was to ensure we stayed there. We did, and did rather well. So well, according to Sam, that we overachieved!
Fine, it may not have been very pretty but I think we all accepted that establishing a firm foothold was the most important objective of last season. So surely then, this season’s aim was to crack on? Not to end up desperately grateful we managed to survive, just about struggling to achieve that all important forty point target. Again, excuses can be made regarding injuries to crucial players at the wrong time, bad luck, poor refereeing decisions but overall none of these excuses are acceptable. Let’s face it, we were not doing particularly well before all these problems escalated around Christmas and New Year.
As we head into the summer, something has to change. I don’t blame Sam for everything. Lets face it, we’ve been pretty appalling for quite some time but I think enough is enough. A change has got to be made. I don’t think I can sit through another season as bad as this one, the cumulative result of many other recent poor seasons. It’s got to be better than this, surely?