As we enter St Valentine’s week, many Hammers will be feeling full of love for everything about West Ham United. Sitting comfortably in the top half of the top division, and winning plaudits for their expansive style of play, everything is looking rosy for the claret and blues of east London. Whilst the seeds planted in the championship are now coming to full bloom, there were many who could not see the shoots of recovery slowly sprouting into life.
The same sweet nothings could not have been whispered this time last year. After the club had suffered relegation 18 months previously, the fans were growing impatient. Manager Alan Pardew was under increasing pressure, as his team of premiership hopefuls struggled to live up to the expectations of the devoted East End fans. Pardew’s West Ham were outside the play-off places in 7th place, an improvement on the 9th place they were languishing in a couple of weeks before.
The East End natives were restless. Not only were the points hard to come by, but the Hammers traditional entertaining attacking game was nowhere to be seen. Pardew had promised to get us promoted that season, his first full season in charge, and many could see we had the players to worry most teams. He had been shrewd in the transfer market, buying the best upcoming talent the lower divisions had to offer, often at bargain basement prices. Players such as Nigel Reo Coker and Marlon Harewood were picked up for next to nothing, whilst the exodus of high earners meant bodies needed replacing. Pardew made some good deals where by when a high earner left, another player coming in was part of the deal, Bobby Zamora and Matty Etherington, both acquired in this manner. Not to mention the talent that was emerging from West Ham’s highly productive youth academy. Yet it just didn’t seem to be working. Pardew was under the most pressure since he’d arrived at the club. A vocal minority in the crowd were calling for his head. He remained strong and showed great belief in himself and his players, but it seemed unless he got West Ham up the table quickly, his days were numbered.
At the time, I was well and truly sat on the fence. I could see the good work Pardew had done. He had streamlined the club, from one with a lot of players on fat salaries, to one full of talented hungry youngsters with their best years ahead of them, augmented by the odd experienced head. He’d shaken up the fitness and backroom sides of the club. There were plenty of good signs, but it just didn’t seem to be working. It seemed he was the man to take us forwards, but if we couldn’t make the play-offs, how could he hope to stay? That just about summed up my feelings at the time. If we failed to get promotion, I felt Pardew would have to go. Not that I wanted him to, but the feelings of the fans would surely dictate that. But, if we were to somehow gain promotion, surely we’d have a great manger for years to come. He’d have overcome the most pressure perhaps any West Ham managerufabet วิธีสมัคร ever faced, would have his players right behind him, and surely the fans would soon follow. He’d have been through the mill and out the other side, and would surely be a better manager because of it.
The pressure continued right up to the last day of the season, where West Ham finished in 6th place, the last of the play-off places. Compared t