A third of the season is gone and the Hammers are sitting in a very respectable fifth place in the Premier League table. It’s easy to forget that we are ‘only’ ten points above a relegation place at this point, but in reality the gap between us and the Burnleys, Leicesters and Hulls of this world feels a lot bigger these days. It’s a rare thing for West Ham walking in thin air and the rarefied atmosphere near the top of the table, but this doesn’t feel like a fluke. Against Newcastle we didn’t deliver our best football, but we still managed to win against a team bang on form. It’s fair to say that at this point we don’t even know what our best team is. We’ve never had the entire squad available, fit and healthy, but this may happen soon.
Even Sakho will probably return much quicker than anticipated as he is such a passionate player who just wants to get out on the pitch again. Watching our beloved Hammers play these days is a weird experience as so many things have changed due to us having a vastly improved squad. Usually I tend to watch games being very much on edge all the time, watching through fingers covering my eyes, not being able to bear the tension. Tension ? What tension ?
This season more often than not I am very much relaxed. With our back four plus Adrian I don’t expect our lads conceding a shedload of goals. And I am always confident we are going to score goals as we always have someone on the pitch these days capable of converting something out of very little, even our defenders can now score from a teammate’s wayward shot on goal. Normally I would sit down, look at the upcoming ten games or so and make a list of which games are winnable, drawable or basically lost causes. This season I go into games full of confidence we can win on any given day.Team spirit appears to be skyhigh. Competition for places all over the pitch.
Yet fans, myself included, continue to moan. Allardyce putting out a formation we perceive to be negative. Nolan starting a game again. Zarate not starting games. Reid not signing his contract. Sakho suffering further injury through pathetic treatment from a Senegalese physio. Players being asked to play out of position. What is there to moan if a club like us are sitting in fifth place in the table ? My answer: We are creatures of habit and as West Ham fans we had plenty of reasons in the past to moan, about various issues on and off the pitch. As West Ham fans we are conditioned to worry, conditioned to feel disappointment, suffer setbacks or seeing our dreams fading and dying. I still actually find myself in a state of shock about how well our club is doing and my only way of coping with it is clinging on to some good old fashioned moaning, but these days thankfully about merely minor irritations. Moaning somehow feels like a security blanket for me, it reminds me of my old West Ham. I appreciate that most other clubs in this league would love to be in our current position and have only our ‘problems’ to deal with.
So, West Brom next then, another game I can watch in a much more relaxed manner as I just know our lads will be up for it. No doubt I won’t be able to guess the starting eleven (who can these days ?), but we will give the Albion one hell of a game. Forgive me should I continue to moan about petty little things in the game thread again, about Allardyce, our formation, maybe playing with only one striker upfront or the inclusion of Nolan. I can’t help it. I’m not used to the thin air of fifth place, as a West Ham fan I’ve never really been out of basecamp before.
Hopefully I won’t be suffering from some serious altitude sickness soon. Our bubbles are just flying so high at the end of 2014.