Tony Hanna's Musings
The last nine days of the PL season are fast approaching and to be honest I can’t wait until it is all over. New broom and all that springs to mind. Three games; away to Leicester, home to the Moaning ones and Everton are the last course of what has mostly been an unpalatable season. One more win or two draws should be enough to see us survive but I know a lot of our fans are expecting the same menu to be dished up next season. Our odds of staying up barely flinched despite the result on the weekend and this was based on the fact the bookies expected nothing less than a comprehensive Manchester City victory and had factored their prices for same. Before the game on the blog I wrote that I would take a 2-0 defeat right then to protect our goal difference. Dan Coker backed me up and whilst we both wanted a better performance from our team we were both being realistic. Whilst saying taking a 2-0 defeat prior to the event sounds defeatist, it was a hypothetical viewpoint and it does not mean you accept defeat –it just means as a fan you hope for the best but fear the worst. It didn’t start well with our “guard of honour.” What the hell was that about? I can understand it happening on the day they are crowned but anything after, especially for a team fighting relegation, is absurd.
I won’t dwell on our game against City. Dave and HH have written their views in the past couple of days and I have little to add other than the ref disallowing Arnie’s goal was a disgraceful decision and taking goalkeeper protection rules way too far. I was also disappointed when Evra was picked ahead of Masuaku and my annoyance only increased when that players deflection started the rot. Evra has started three times for the Hammers now, all for 4-1 losses. What is most concerning to me though is there seems to be an underlying discontent within the playing group. There are several players who look quite disinterested and I just don’t get the vibe – the group isn’t putting in anywhere near the effort our supporters deserve. Stoke City lack the quality we have and will probably go down, but watch their games and tell me their players don’t care. They are giving it their all. I can’t say that about West Ham at the moment. Apparently, now we have Andy Carroll walking off down the tunnel before the end of the game because he was an unused sub. Rumours abound that he was sent home from training on Monday. I like to see players show emotion but it has to be tempered with the right team ethos. Moyes has been openly critical of players in recent weeks and there is little doubt tensions are high behind the scenes. All this when we really need everyone pulling together. We rarely handle three games in a week well and it is likely we will use the majority of our fringe players at some stage next week so we need them all to be correctly focused.
A few weeks ago I was torn between wanting Moyes to stay as manager next season or not – not that my thoughts carry any weight but hey, we all like to have an opinion. Last week I wrote that I thought he would be given at least a year providing we stay up. It is fair to say that he is still working with the previous managers team, not his own, but if the January window signings of Evra and Hugill are anything to go by I am rather sceptical that he is what we need. Moyes joined at a time when many thought Bilic was taking us down. It is hypothetical as to what would have happened but apart from the wins against Stoke, Huddersfield and Southampton I have not enjoyed what I have seen under his tenure. At one point we moved up to 11th and whilst we were not clear of the relegation zone points wise, we did seem to be comfortably edging away from the drop zone. Since those heady days it has become quite bland at best. Whoever does manage us next season will have a task ahead as unless there are some considerable changes I fear what may be put off this season will come home to roost next season. There must also be a full scale investigation using independent experts in their field into why we are having so many injuries at the club. When something keeps happening season after season, to a greater degree than the majority of our opponents, there just has to be an underlying reason. Whether it is buying the wrong players, keeping the wrong players, training grounds, incorrect warm ups and warm downs, training techniques, how players handle their physical well being – all these questions must be asked together with do we have the correct medical team in place? I still recall another West Ham fan site writing last August that the signing of Gary Lewin could be the best signing of the season. I shook my head at the time but hoped they were right. I don’t think they were.
Just a recap of what lies ahead next week and the odds for what set of supporters will be crying on the last day of the season;
West Brom (36 games 28 points) are making a remarkable end of season surge. Too late for them though and they have Spurs (h) and Palace (a) left to play and the bookies aren’t even pricing them in the markets.
Stoke City (36 games 30 points) are still scrapping but are just so toothless up front. Their two remaining games are Palace (h) and Swansea (a), the latter could be a last day cup final of sorts for both teams. Bookies price is 1/10 for the drop. Put ten quid on to win a quid in other words.
Southampton (35 games 32 points) are showing good recovery signs. Of all the teams at the bottom they are the ones I personally want to see go down, but my guess is they won’t. They are left with Everton (a), Swansea (a) and their only home game remaining is Man City on the final day of the season. The exchanges have them at 5/4 (44% chance) for the drop which is a bit more generous than the Corporate bookies who have them even money (50%).
Swansea (35 games 33 points) play Bournemouth (a) and then have critical home games against Southampton and Stoke to come and likely hold the key to who goes down. Bookies have them at 5/2 (28%) to be playing Championship football next season.
Huddersfield (35 games 35 points) have the toughest run in and losing at home to Everton on the weekend was a huge blow for them as a win would have almost certainly made them safe. They finish the season with Man City (a), Chelsea (a) and Arsenal (h) which will be Arsene Wenger’s last game in charge at the Gunners unless they reach the Europa League final which is scheduled a few days later. Reaching the final or not will have a huge impact on how seriously Arsenal take this game. Reach the final and Arsenal will have their minds (and best players) elsewhere – miss the final and they will be up for the Huddersfield game as Wenger bows out. The bookies have Huddersfield at 13/8 (38%) to go down.
West Ham (35 games 35 points) have Leicester (a), Moan Utd (h) and bogey team Everton (h) left to play. The bookies rate us as a 14/1 (6.67%) chance.
Just a side note here. Littlefork has been a poster on here since 2013 and whilst I don’t know the fella he has always been a well mannered and balanced poster on the site. Yesterday he posted the following; “Life’s hard atm for the littlefork family as eldest grandson is fighting bacterial meningitis. Out of immediate danger through cranial surgery but a long way to go. Positive thoughts from the west ham family please”. To one of our own I send best wishes from the WHTID family