The A-Z of the season: The good, the bad and the ugly from a truly glorious campaign

It’s the annual Blowing Bubbles A-Z of the season – featuring special guest Mike Dean

Tomas Soucek (WHU) at the EPL match West Ham United v Burnley, at the London Stadium, London, UK on 16th January, 2021. English Premier League matches are still being played behind closed doors because of the current COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, and government social distancing/lockdown restrictions.

A is for Antonio. What a beast. I absolutely love him. When he is in the mood, he is unplayable, and he’ll be the record goalscorer in the Premier League for the club very soon. Am I the only one though who watches him in action barely breathing because I expect his hamstring to ping at any point?

B is for Backstreet Moyes – the celebration following Jesse Lingard’s goal against Tottenham was a joy, with Lingard having a go on the sax, Pablo Fornals on lead guitar, and Declan Rice on drums. Rice’s tweet with the instruments Photoshopped into the image was genius.

C is for Czechs. Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal have both slotted into the team and it is now inconceivable that if fit, they don’t start. They have both been a major reason why the team has been so successful this season.

D is for Dean. I’m not sure if Mike Dean just dislikes West Ham or not, but given some of the awful decisions he’s made against us – not just this season, either – if I see that he is involved in our match I immediately assume we’ll be down to nine men with 88 minutes gone, having gone 4-1 down after leading 1-0. Or is that just me?

E is for earned rest. Mark Noble has announced his retirement after the end of next season. He’s a little bit older and a little bit slower these days, but he’s still got it and I was delighted when he proved the doom merchants wrong on his return to the side a few weeks ago, after Rice’s injury.

F is for fans because there’s just no football without them. I am absolutely gutted that the fans have not been able to see a team playing to their maximum at the stadium. Roll on the last home game of the season, when some of us will be allowed back in.

G is for Goalfests. There was a sequence of results a few weeks ago which ran 3-3, 2-3, 3-2, 3-2. You can say many things about the defending, but you can’t say you aren’t entertained. And possibly hospitalised due to heart failure.

H is for home form. West Ham were second in this particular table for a long spell this season. Fortress London Stadium? Tell you what, when the fans are back, it’s going to be rocking.

I is for injuries. The last few weeks of the season have threatened to derail West Ham’s European push, with injuries to Rice, Ogbonna, Antonio particularly galling. But the team has somehow stayed the course, with others stepping up. Makes you proud.

J is for J-Lingz. There’s not much to say here other than is this the single greatest loan deal in the whole of history? What a player.

K is for kit. Specifically, that really tasty looking all-black third kit. I know it’s a little controversial but I think it looks absolutely brilliant and we seem to keep winning in it.

L is for Lanzini’s goal against Tottenham. The goal was sublime, the Tottenham fans’ reaction was possibly the funniest thing I have ever seen on the internet.

M is for the Moyesiah, obviously. What on earth has this man done? He’s taken a team struggling near the bottom and made us into Champions League contenders. Give him the freedom of the place.

N is for Newcastle’s wins over us. One of the bigger disappointments of the season, this lot managed to do the double over us. Pah.

O is for outstanding season. It’ll be a major disappointment if we don’t get European football, but whatever happens, the boys have been brilliant. Remember where we were this time last year.

P is for points. We’ve won lots of them, and it’s very possible we will set a record for West Ham in the Premier League era.

Q is for quick. When we are in the mood, we are lightning quick on the break. I give you exhibit A: the first goal against Wolves away in the 3-2 win. A brilliant breakaway goal.

R is for red cards rescinded. Soucek’s red was nonsense, Balbuena’s decision was idiotic. These are rescinded cards which could cost points, and it is about time that something was actually done about it.

S is for Sam, Big Sam. Oh dear oh dear. That wonderful CV with no relegation on it now has a relegation on it. I’m not massively anti-Sam, but the way that West Brom treated Bilic, they deserve to go down.

T is for transfers. We seem to have become really quite good at them. We were moody about Grady Diangana’s move to West Brom at the start of the season. That seems an awfully long time ago now.

U is for United. For the first time in quite a while, this club feels like it is pulling together and not before time. Good performances on the pitch have quietened fan unrest over the board – watch for that to return if we start struggling.

V is for VAR madness. I wrote much about some of the poorer decisions a couple of months ago. Suffice it to say, it’s not working, wrong decisions are being made, and something needs to be done.

W is for wrong pre-season predictions. Hands up who had West Ham fighting for a Champions League place. I didn’t and no, neither did you. 

X is for our (ex)-managers. I’m not looking at any of them and thinking that I should’ve been more careful who I’d wished for. David Moyes, you can stay.

Y is for youth. We’ve not seen too much of them this season, but we saw Oladapo Afolayan play (and score) against Doncaster in the FA Cup, and with players such as Xande Silva and Conor Coventry from the Academy, the future looks bright.

Z is for zero chance of relegation this season. Unusual given recent history but boy, it’s so much nicer to be fighting at the other end of the table!

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