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West Ham - defying Mark Lawrenson, it all seems so different these days

Tom Winnifrith
Sunday 10 January 2016

Before the FA Cup 3rd round tie against Wolves yesterday there were two big calls. Once again TV pundit Lauro called out West Ham to lose in one of the day's big upsets. Happily Lauro was once again wrong. The other big call was from our relatively new manager Slaven Bilic who said that he'd rather win the FA Cup than finish in the top four of the Premiership so ensuring Champions League football next year at the Olympic Stadium. These are not the sort of words long term Hammers are used to hearing.

It is rather like me saying that I'd rather shag Cheryl Cole tonight than Despina Vandi. Okay I read that Cheryl is once again single but since I have an IQ of more than 75 I don't think that I am in the running.

A West Ham manager is surely meant to say that he'd rather we avoid relegation than win the Cup or even get with a sniff of Wembley.

In the past 36 years we have made it to the FA Cup final just twice. Sadly I was there on the second occasion when we came er..second. I associate the Cup with the odd glorious victory (Paul di Canio beating Man United 1-0 at Old Trafford) but more with a string of humiliating defeats by lesser sides. That 5-0 thrashing at Forest a few seasons ago was bad. I remember seeing us play Aldershot at Upton Park when the Hampshire side were bottom of the league and just a few weeks away from going bust. It was 0-0 and frankly Aldershot were robbed, we made them look like Brazil that night although we won the replay.

My point is that West Ham and the Cup is just a romatic dream, the occassional triumph amid years of failure, humiliation and despair. As for Champions League football, I realise that we are just two wins off the fourth spot. But history tells me that the way to view being on 32 points is that we are probably just two wins away from avoiding relegation. Except of course when we got 43 points and still went down.

Perhaps I just need a whole new mindset when it comes to supporting West Ham. Though we may have defeated teams such as Arsenal (away), Liverpool (home and away), Man City (away), as well as lesser sides such as little Chelsea, this season I still find it hard to accept that this is anything other than a fluke, that I will not wake up and find that my dreams have indeed faded and died.

I have not been to a game all season but I cannot help but look at the scores or watch live streaming coverage on the internet. The Mrs still hears a loud "yes" from my study on a Saturday afternoon when the Irons get a result or even a goal.

Okay so this is a new West Ham. In that Spirit I chide Mr Bilic for thinking there is a choice. Go for it man. It is Cheryl and Despina in a threesome. Let's win the FA Cup and also gain a Champions League spot in the Premiership. In fact why just settle for fourth, we are West Ham why not aim to win the title?

Maybe I am getting a little carried away. It is just that I find myself in such totally unfamiliar territory and I am finding it rather hard to come to terms with.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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