Phil Parkes: “Clean sheets and survival in the league should be our top priorities”

I’m certainly not despondent yet. I don’t think, at this moment in time, that we will get relegated.

Lukasz Fabianski (WHU) at the West Ham United v Chelsea EPL match, at the London Stadium, London, UK on February 11, 2023.

If Fabianski and our defence can keep clean sheets in our Premier League games between now and the end of the season, we should pick up enough points to stay up. It really is as simple as that. Clean sheets mean we won’t lose games and drawing all our remaining games will probably be enough.

I know that this month we’ve got a Conference League quarter final to look forward to but right now, I hope we have our best performances in the league. If we get knocked out of the Conference League, so be it. We’ve had another good run in Europe but survival in the Premier League is our top priority.

I’m sure if you asked the fans what they’d rather, win the Conference League or stay in the Premier League, everyone would say the latter. Looking at our remaining fixtures, I am confident that we will pick up enough points.

I know we’ve still got the likes of Manchester City, United, and Arsenal to play but we’ve still got to play teams around us. I didn’t watch the Southampton game but what I read about it didn’t make it sound like it was a classic, and that we, once again, failed to create enough chances against a poor side.

Having said that, it was a very important win in the grand scheme of things and it’s crazy that at this point of the season, a win takes you from 19th to 14th place. And we could be back down in 19th place again if the next few results don’t go our way. I don’t think there’s ever been a season like this.

Usually, there’s been a team cut adrift for a while or maybe even two sides and the last place is between a few teams. But who fills those three spaces is really still anyone’s guess. I was reading that a computer had predicted that West Ham will be safe and that Southampton, Bournemouth and Forest will go down.

The headline made it suggest that West Ham fans should feel reassured but how can a computer predict this with any accuracy? Football is one of the most unpredictable sports in the world. West Ham fans will only feel reassured when we’ve got another couple of wins, and we’ve all got to hope we can get a few results together sooner rather than later.

There would be nothing worse than to win the Conference League and be relegated to the Championship in the same season. To play in the Europa League against Barcelona in a Thursday and Barnsley on the Sunday.

Someone was saying to me the other day that Moyes hasn’t got a major trophy on his CV so winning the Conference League would give him that. But surely relegation would counter that win? Moyes and Forest manager Steve Cooper, at the time of writing, are the only surviving managers in the bottom from 11th to 20th.

We’ve had three high profile managers sacked in only a few days. Viera for me doesn’t make any sense but then we don’t really know what’s gone on behind closed doors. He tries to play the game the right way and got Palace playing attacking football. Now Roy has come in and inherited Viera’s team, not done much different, they beat Leicester and things look better. Could they not have given him until the Leicester game?

The Palace victory led to the end of Brendan Rodgers’ time at Leicester, which again surprised me given how much he has done for them, including winning the FA Cup. There is no loyalty in the game. Teams in the Premier League are so worried about survival at all costs.

Then you look at the other end of the table and Spurs were a point off the Champions League places and yet they’ve sacked Conte. I know a lot of people aren’t fans of chairman Daniel Levy because to him, it’s a business. It’s not really about the football.

To him, getting into the Champions League is worth a lot of money to the club and that’s what it all comes down to. There are some teams that are now on their third manager this season. In my day, you would get the odd manager sacked but it would usually be at the end of the season.

As for Potter, I wonder how much he was paid off by Chelsea as he was on a five-year deal? Either way, I still think it was wrong for him to go there. I do wonder if the Board are worried about not taking the chance to sack Moyes before the World Cup.

This would’ve given a new manager time to get the team playing the way they want and also would’ve given him the January transfer window to add players. But they didn’t do that and now the Board will be hoping sticking with Moyes turns out to be the right decision.

And if they do decide to sack him, either before the end of the season or once it’s finished, who do we get in? Some have mentioned Michael Carrick but he hasn’t really been tested, just look at what happened with Gerrard and Lampard. Both of them now out of work.

As much as I’ve mentioned us being relegated, there’s nothing to suggest we won’t kick on now, finish 12th in the league and win the Conference League. But trying to put my finger on what’s happened this year does make me wonder if there’s something amiss.

There are players in this squad who some would argue haven’t been pulling their weight because they know if we get relegated, they’ll be sold to a new club. It makes me wonder what’s gone on behind closed doors because, just like Leicester, we shouldn’t be in this position.

Payet caused some unrest in the dressing room when he wanted to leave. Is there someone else in today’s dressing room that is upsetting everyone else? I don’t know. The big thing against Southampton was the clean sheet. That really is the most important thing now.

If we can keep Aguerd and Zouma fit and playing together, we should keep clean sheets. I think we’ll need about 39 points to survive and clean sheets will go a long way to hitting this total.

I’m certainly not despondent yet. I don’t think, at this moment in time, that we will get relegated.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.