In this oddest of Premier League seasons – where the campaign has started late, the only sounds to be heard within the grounds are those of the players shouting at each other, and matches are on TV at unusual times, like Sunday nights – it’s reassuring to know that one thing never changes: West Ham make their supporters go through every single emotion possible.
Let’s go back to the start of the season. There are dark clouds over the London Stadium. Grady Diangana had just been sold for a snip. The ensuing fallout, involving several West Ham players posting negatively on social media, had led to something approaching fan mutiny.
It was probably just as well that we weren’t present in the ground for the first match against Newcastle, where we were stifled and comfortably beaten 2-0 by a team that went on, in their next match, to lose 3-0 at home to Brighton.
In truth, we weren’t that bad, but seriously lacked a cutting edge, hitting the crossbar twice. The Magpies deserved their win, though, and confidence was low.
An inability to score goals costs teams dear. Talk of relegation was already at fever pitch. Some fans chanted for David Moyes’ head, calling him a dinosaur.
Many more clamoured for the removal of Gold, Brady and Sullivan. In their heads, fans were already planning for possibly virtual trips to the likes of Ipswich Town and Lincoln City next season. All of this after one game.
Onto the Carabao Cup. A real banana skin lied in wait; Charlton Athletic, fresh from a victory at AFC Wimbledon. Which West Ham would turn up? As it turned out, a much better-looking one, and players on the pitch with a point to prove.
It was Haller at the double, and Felipe Anderson (remember when he was good?) wrapping up a 3-0 victory.
Confidence partially restored, some optimism slowly returning. Maybe they weren’t so bad. Maybe we weren’t so bad.
Then, Arsenal. West Ham look like a football team. I find myself watching the match, at 1-1, thinking in standard Irons fashion, watching us spurn chance after chance: ‘I wonder how late into the game Arsenal will score their winner?’.
Arsenal aren’t bad, but we look good. Really good. And to the surprise of absolutely no West Ham fan whatsoever, we concede within the last five minutes and lose 2-1. Of course. Standard. We can’t score for toffee and now we’re unlucky too? We’re going down. We’re definitely going down.
It’s Hull up next in the Carabao Cup. A game you’d think we should easily win, but again, this is West Ham. We’re bound to struggle.
We always do against lower league opposition in cups. Not this time though, as the Tigers are swatted away 5-1. Haller scores another two. Yarmalenko scores, too.
Players out in the cold doing what they can to suggest they have a future at West Ham. Maybe we’ve got the players we need to stay up, and they actually do have a part to play in the future of the club.
But it’s Wolves next. They always beat us. Have we ever scored against them?
Tell you what, I’ll just turn on the telly, we’ll be 2-0 down at home and I’ll just catch the dying minutes.
Right, here we go… huh? We’re winning 4-0? What? Where did that come from? Hang on a minute, we’re playing really well. Wolves aren’t a bad team, are they? We’re just playing better than them. I knew it – we aren’t that bad!
Yeah, that’s it. It was just a confidence thing. I pretended not to care, but I actually do. Nine goals in two games. That’s not relegation form, is it? Maybe we can get into the top half. All hail David Moyes! Not the board, though, obviously.
Our September ends with a thumping by Everton in the Carabao Cup. But we don’t play badly and the scoreline, 4-1, isn’t really a fair reflection of the match.
We did OK. They have players on fire and confidence is rippling through their team. I shrug my shoulders, resigned to the fact that no West Ham team in my lifetime is going to win that cup.
We were likely to lose that game, and I am indifferent. We’re probably going to stay up, and we’re probably not going to win a cup.
And that was our September. A
s I write this, we have just absolutely thumped Leicester three-nil away from home and I am trying to figure out what is going on.
We’re eighth with a goal difference of +4. This never happens. But then again, the Premier League has gone barmy: Liverpool conceded seven and Manchester United six.
Seems as if crowds aren’t the only thing missing from Premier League stadia this season – defences have disappeared, too.
I began September thinking that if we finish 17th, we will have done well. One month later, I think any one of a number of teams could end up in Europe, including us.
This is going to be a season of unpredictability. It really is the oddest of Premier League seasons, and from a West Ham point of view, if the ride is anything like it was for the first few games, I for one can’t wait to watch it unfold – even if it is from the comfort of my armchair.