The HamburgHammer Column
Never in doubt! I speak in jest! I suppose most Hammers fans were a bundle of nerves on Saturday, with bums making a noise resembling more than moderate squeaking.
Personally I was confident as Leicester had been in self-destruct mode in the past few weeks. But when it comes to West Ham things of course are never that easy.
We have a tendency to give teams momentum who haven’t won in ten games. Goalscorers with a bit of a barren spell cherish playing us while defenders far too often this season got an easy ride from us.
Saying all that I was mightily relieved to find Leicester still in “kicking a ball casually about on a beach” mood. By now most of you will know about my West Ham watching routine when I follow our games from the comfort of my living room: Screwdriver at the ready to give the nervously wrangling fingers something to hold onto.
“London Calling” blasting from my stereo a few minutes from kickoff (only for home games though).
And a strict rule to enjoy a cold beer (or two) after the game, but only if West Ham have won.
Looking at our stats this season you can see I’ve virtually lived the life of a teetotaller in the last 10 months for that reason. But not on Saturday!
It was a decent away performance from the lads, minus some shocking individual errors, Cresswell’s moment of handling stupidity the most glaring one. Other than that all players put in shift in, Adrian chipped in with some confident takes and solid saves and overall we did enough to deserve the three points on the day. And how vital those three points were! And wasn’t it just poetic justice that Canning Town’s best footballer ever scored that crucial second goal ?
And no, it wasn’t your regular Noble penalty kick or a ball deflecting in over the line via Captain Fantastic’s magic shin, it was a belter of a volley, textbook technique, with the ball flying off his foot like a homerun off the sweetspot of a baseball bat. Struck with power and precision. I suppose only Noble himself was more surprised than his teammates and the fans it went in like that. Sure, guys like Messi, De Bruyne or Salah probably score these five times in every training session and several times a season in competitive games, but Mark Noble ?
Yes, people keep telling me his legs are gone and he passes only sideways. But if he was to pass more balls into the far corner of the net like this next season, I won’t be complaining too much!
My first thought when waking up on Sunday morning ? No, not “I need to go to the Khazi” or “I smell bacon from the neighbour’s flat, it must be Sunday!”.
It actually was “West Ham are staying up! Another season of Premier League football!”
Which of course means our club hierarchy now can and HAS TO begin making plans for next season, transfers in, transfers out, Moyes to stay or new guy to come in.
A brutally honest analysis of what went wrong this season, a straight up assessment of who messed up and what can be done so it doesn’t happen again.
Make no mistake: We have been incredibly lucky with staying up this season. We simply cannot rely anymore on three other teams being worse than us.
We’ve been over this numerous times. But our club needs to be run more professionally on and off the pitch. Spending a bit of money is one part of the solution.
But other clubs who have only spent moderately still have been far more successfull on the pitch than us this season, sides like Burnley or Newcastle.
So they must be doing something right. Or at least better than we seem to do.
The next few weeks surely will be highly interesting for all of us and it should give us a bit of an indication if next season will be more of the same or if finally some changes may be afoot. As fans I feel we do deserve a bit of good fortune after one shambles of a season. The fans who have been supporting us for more than ten years know we have no sense of entitlement at West Ham, not in terms of trophies or top positions in the table anyway.
Basically we want to see a team of players in claret and blue, busting a gut in games against superior opposition, leaving blood, sweat (and sometimes tears) on the pitch.
Most of us are happy with us giving it a go, especially in the cups, but also watching characters like Arnautovic, hard grafters like the Ginger Pele or Noble, young Hammers like Rice and Cullen.
And I’m sure as fans most of us would like to see some better treatment from our board overall, some signs of goodwill, of a genuine desire and effort to improve us as a club and a team. If we are customers now, surely customers deserve better service, care and communication. But again, this has been debated on here already over and over again.
As you will know by now I will be coming over next weekend for the Everton game, a fixture which now no longer holds significance apart from playing for pride and getting one over our former managerial mastermind. I am still in a bit of a pickle though, I know my way will lead me to the ticket office eventually and I will have to make a decision there and then, maybe a rather spontaneous one too:
Will I renew my season ticket or downgrade to a mere club membership ?
There are two trains of thought here. On the one hand I would like to put my e-cash (club cash) to good use as I am aware it will be lost if I do nothing (I have nearly 100 quid). It pains me to give more money to our owners than necessary, so a club membership would still give me a shot at watching selected games next season.
On the other hand I feel that as fans we have been there before and we will still be there (at least most of us) once GSB are long gone and merely a rather frustrating chapter in our club’s history.
If I give up my season ticket now, God knows how many years it’ll be before I could get another one. And my trips to London, meeting up regularly with some of you good people, still are dear to me and the football on offer doesn’t really change my general happiness when meeting up with fellow fans on matchdays or on a day before or after a matchday too.
So, who knows what’ll happen in the next few days until that moment I will finally face the West Ham ticket office staff in Stratford.
It is “West Ham Till I Die“ after all. As our own Longtime Lurker so eloquently put it, there are no conditions attached to that phrase regarding ownership, manager or transfer budget. So I have an inkling what could happen down that ticket office…
I hope to see out the season in style by sharing a beverage or two with some of you guys on Everton matchday, hopefully basking in some glorious London sunshine while cupping our collective ears to the Dudley dinosaur.
Finally, for those of you interested, a quick update on the footballing situation in my hometown:
Hamburg SV have a very small chance of staying up on the last day of the season next weekend. All they have to do is beat Moenchengladbach at home while having to pray that already relegated FC Cologne can nick an unlikely win at fellow strugglers Wolfsburg. Not impossible of course, but very unlikely though.
FC St.Pauli have won their home tie against Bielefeld, guaranteeing them another stretch in Bundesliga 2 (where they are likely to meet their hated crosstown rivals Hamburg SV next season). Concordia’s first team lost away to Niendorf 0:3 in a meaningless game, I didn’t attend as half the team are leaving in the summer and it shows in their recent performances. A season to forget as Concordia were expecting to challenge at the top, now they will be lucky to finish in 7th place.
Instead I once again attended the Cordi U23’s game, away to Guelzow, out in the countryside (not far from that zoo I mentioned in my column last week actually).
A 60 mile roundtrip, but lovely sunshine all around and a 3:1 win made the trek worthwhile. Cordi’s U23’s promotion was of course already confirmed the previous Sunday, the only question now left is if the lads will be promoted as Champions (likely) or runners-up.