There was a time when West Ham fans thought that Iceland was the best country in the world, apart from England of course. West Ham had just been bought by new Icelandic owners, fronted by a guy who looked a bit like the main villain from “The Hills Have Eyes”. With them they brought shedloads of cash and the promise of a new era where West Ham would bring in top players on a regular basis and challenge the big teams in the Premier League. No talk of relegation then, but there was a five year plan that included taking part in Champions League football.
The rest of course is history, players like Ljungberg couldn’t repeat the performances that had made them Premier League stars in West Ham’s colours and few countries suffered more from the Global Financial Crisis and the Credit Crunch like Iceland. Plus our owner back then later was revealed as a fraudster and West Ham didn’t actually end up anywhere near the Champions League places, but on the brink of financial collapse. We had just experienced another false dawn and another case of what might have been.
Now it’s 2014 and I can honestly say that I haven’t felt more optimistic about being a West Ham fan and about our future than right now. We seem to have a perfect storm forming slowly, but steadily. Let’s start with the owners, often criticised by fans, sometimes harshly, they have put the club in a position where the external debt to banks will be gone as soon as we move into the OS in two years time. They may have loaned the money to West Ham, true, but it surely is better to own money to West Ham fans than banks that continue to fight for their own survival and may not be willing to keep their faith in the fortunes of a football team.
They have secured the OS for us and struck what many financial and sports experts call an extremly favourable deal.
We should be in a position to generate decent income regularly and be a player in the transfer market for years to come.
Which brings me to our current team. WHAT A SQUAD! The owners brought in a number of players and all of them have contributed and shown glimpses of what they can do, Sakho of course has been downright sensational so far! A proper striker doing what strikers do, scoring goals for fun. Sakho was totally unknown before the start of the season due to him plying his trade in the French Second Division for FC Metz, but for once we seem to have struck gold here.
I read a comment on a forum recently from a Metz supporter who congratulated us on signing Sakho. He had nothing but praise for the player who was not only very skilled and ambitious, but also very level headed and down to earth. In fact the Metz fan was so grateful that he could only wish him well for continuing with his career at a bigger club. Long may his scoring spree continue for West Ham.
We now have proper competition for places all over the pitch. And praise must go to Sam Allardyce (and most of you know that I am not his biggest fan to say the least) for acknowledging the impact of the new signings and playing them. We no longer play as if Carroll was still on the pitch. We name a team and play to the strengths of these respective players. Downing may have found his perfect position on the pitch in the process. Song adds vision and awareness. Amalfitano looks very useful on the ball, Valencia is a beast who may need some more time to gel with the rest of the team and Sakho I’ve already covered.
Cresswell looks like he has played LB for us for two or three seasons already and Jenkinson has started to make an impression too while young Poyet doesn’t look out of place in this league at all. And surely we haven’t seen the best of Zarate yet. Kouyate already is a West Ham legend in the making.
Team spirit plays a huge part in all of this and a massive kudos here must go to Kevin Nolan. It must be hard for him sitting on the bench, but he made sure that all our new faces have settled in quickly. It takes a brave and good man to help players coming into the team who could very well take his starting place away from him, but Nolan appears to have done just yet – he deserves a lot of credit for that!
What I love the most about this team now is the energy and movement all over the pitch. This team oozes desire. They are constantly in the faces of the opposing players, hunting, chasing, breathing down their necks, trying to win back balls all over the pitch. Valencia and Sakho are a living nightmare already for opposing goalkeepers and defenders and the entire team seems to enjoy our current brand of football as do the fans surely.
Allardyce will always love his clean sheets more than scoring three or four goals, but I get the feeling he’s slowly coming around to enjoying attacking football a bit more.
As a West Ham fan you are always aware that the next train crash could be just around the corner: Our best players and fan favourites leaving at the first opportunity, individual players throwing their toys out of the pram for some obscure reason and disrupting team spirit, some dodgy dealings in our finance department being revealed by the media, the OS being not quite so gobsmacking as the owners would have us believe, West Ham in the past have always found ways to self destruct.
But we wouldn’t be West Ham fans if we didn’t continue to dream of better times and the dawning of a new era.
Rarely has a dawning been brighter than this current one. I may be a fool for thinking that this actually could be the real thing this time.
But it surely is a good thing to see what fans on here (me included) have left moaning about. It’s only little things, a tweak needed here and there, but in general we can be nothing but happy with the general direction the club is taking, on and off the pitch. It’s a great time to be a Happy Hammer!