Tony Hanna's Musings
Piece of cake! I am not sure what all the fuss was about and why many Hammers fans were getting so anxious. Even at the Burnley game the fans were lobbing money at the owners to help with next seasons Premier League war chest. They knew. Two more wins this week and we will break into the top half of the division. Seriously though, I had a little play with the PL table predictor and two more wins would probably put us 10th. We did actually look like a decent side again at Leicester, not dissimilar to the performance at home to Southampton. Both these teams weren’t at their best but often that can be put down to how well the opposition performs. I know some of you understand the bookies odds I post quite often on things like relegation and transfer markets, but I realise it goes over the top of the heads of others. But the one thing you get from the bookies, especially on things like the relegation markets, is an unemotional professional opinion based on stats, data and the most likely probabilities using a plethora of computer based information. They don’t always get it right but they are generally more accurate than the fan who has that emotional attachment. The bookies have had the Hammers at 14/1 (6.5% chance) and longer in the relegation market for several weeks now, whilst I would guess that at least half on here (50% chance) had us going down over the same period. It is the reason I like to post the bookies odds on a regular basis, to bring some perspective. However, even I must admit to doubting the bookies at times during the back end of this season. Looking at some stats before the Leicester game it showed we had only won two out of our last twelve games. However, if you ignored games played against the top six we had 4W 3D 3L in our past ten and after the weekends result you can now make that 5 wins from our past 11 against the league of fourteen.
Over the weekend I listened to the Leicester and Everton fans singing for their current managers to, well to put it mildly, leave. Both clubs were in peril early on in the season. In particular, Everton had spent large chunks on improving their squad with the money gained from the sale of Lukaku and together with Leicester were under achieving compared to club and fans expectations. Like us, they both decided to part with their managers prior to the New Year with Puel replacing Shakespear and Allardyce replacing Koeman (although in between former player Unsworth was given a trial run in the job). Everton and Leicester currently sit 8th and 9th whilst we have now avoided the drop after replacing Bilic for Moyes. For those two teams to now be sitting in the top half of the league and their fans not being satisfied just goes to show how tough a task it is for any manager to appease the modern day fan. Whilst we have the inequality of the super power top six and the bottom feeding league of fourteen it will remain the same. The fans of the clubs that have been in the league of 14 the longest will demand more –and that includes us. We want good football as well as results but in this league of fourteen, three teams will be relegated every season. That is a just over a whopping 20% turnover of clubs every season. That’s pressure! Everton fans hate the football being dished up by Sam but forget the hole they were in when he took over. On the flip side you get a side like Burnley. Happy to be in the PL but from a neutral point of view they are dire to watch. They remind me of Stoke when they were first promoted. Happy with any dross served up as long as they remain in the top flight. However, given a few seasons of success in retaining their PL status they will turn on the manager unless the style changes and in a couple more seasons they will probably be just where Stoke are now.
Which brings us to us. Several months ago most of us would have settled for safety. We have got it. A week ago there seemed to be a divide in the dressing room. Now we have photos of player camaraderie all over social network sites – overjoyed with what it meant to them to secure our spot in the Premier League for another season. We started the season with three consecutive away games because we don’t own our own stadium anymore which put us on the back foot right from the start of the season. We have sacked a manager, only the 15th in our history. We have had organised protest marches cancelled and there have been organised pitch invasions carried out. It has been quite a roller coaster season. One I personally will be glad to see the back of. Stoke are relegated and almost certainly West Brom – one of Southampton, Swansea and Huddersfield will join them. Should Swansea survive 10% of the PL will be Welsh next season.. Oh the fun and the thought of watching a Burnley v Cardiff match makes me cringe. Whether Moyes will be manager next season may well depend on how the players play out the last two games of the season. The owners need to make their decision on this position as soon as possible. After the season we have endured as fans I think the players owe us two ripping performances. There is no pressure now and if we meekly cave in during these two games I would be seriously questioning whether Moyes is the right man for the job. We have a World Cup looming in a few weeks and this year the summer transfer window will close before the start of the season leaving much less time for transfer deals to be completed. A good idea in my opinion and over the next few months I will occasionally be writing up my transfer market “bookies updates” for the site.