As we click over into 2019 it’s the time for us to think about New Year’s Resolutions. These are usually where we resolve to do something we haven’t previously managed to do — lose weight, stop smoking, be nice to the neighbours. Advice is easy to give but hard to take of course, but here are my suggestions for some of those connected with the club.
Manuel Pellegrini: Have a proper crack at the FA Cup
It’s been a while since we have gone into the first week of the New Year feeling confident of survival but I think this year we should be looking up rather than down. That being the case there will be absolutely no excuse for fielding weakened teams in the FA Cup and not taking it seriously.
Of course a lot depends on the draw; Home to Birmingham in the third round (or the round of 64 and Americans would irritatingly have it) is eminently winnable but we showed in 2016 that even playing Manchester United and Liverpool away in the competition we were within one dodgy foul on the ‘keeper of a semi-final at Wembley against Everton. Nevertheless a few tidy home draws against teams desperate for points in their respective leagues would do nicely.
The Board Generally: Invest in the January window
It didn’t feel like it after four games but in retrospect the summer transfer window was a success, even if you just count the signing of Anderson. You only have to look at the injuries we have picked up in the first few months to see the squad is still paper thin and we need cover in all areas.
Especially for Declan Rice: If he gets injured we are screwed. Despite the fact that Masuaku has been improving at left back we could do with a specialist in that position as Cresswell seems increasingly fragile.
And strikers. You can never have enough strikers. So have another look down the back of the sofa.
Sullivan & Brady Specifically: Keep your traps shut
This pair of ‘nanas have been fairly quiet over the first half of the season and it has been sheer bliss. I don’t read Karren Brady’s column in The Sun for two reasons. Firstly it’s in The Sun, and secondly, it’s by Karren Brady. But normally as soon as she says something horrendous it gets plastered all over social media so I don’t have to. As for Dave, he’s not attempted to undermine anyone for three months. We’ve just had that excruciating documentary on BBC about his son Jack. I can suffer that, just about. As long as it stops now. I have high hopes that these two will make a New Year’s resolution to keep their necks wound in.
The Players Generally: Finish with a positive goal difference.
Win big, lose small. It’s not rocket science. It seems unbelievable that in the twenty-two and a half seasons we have been in the Premier League we have only once finished with a positive goal difference (2015/16). That means we have generally lost big and won small — even when finishing fifth the last three games of that season included a 0-6 and a 1-5. Focus. Concentrate. Score more goals than you concede. And while you are at it, please try to stay fit.
Andy Carroll: Just get fit and stay fit. Please. I would imagine that if you put an elephant in stilettos he will turn more than one ankle (and a few heads) while trying to jump to head a football. That’s how I see the problem with Andy. He’s a big lump on fragile support. And he jumps a lot. But take that away from his game and you might as well not have him anyway. Look after yourself Andy. Oh and Jack Wilshere too while I am at it.
West Ham Fans: Two things: firstly, try to love the stadium. I know what you are thinking. You would rather give up smoking, lose weight and be nice to your neighbours all at once. But try it. We are stuck with it. There is no going back. So if you don’t like it, get involved in trying to get things improved. Bear in mind that there is a limit to what can be achieved all the time we don’t own the stadium. Set your expectation levels. Campaign for the club to be able to buy it so we can do what we want with it. But stop hating it. It doesn’t help. When someone asks you what you think of it, lie.
Secondly, read more. May I suggest an excellent starting point “An Irrational Hatred of Everythingâ€ by me.