Club Focus – West Ham United – Hapless Hammers about to fade and die

They have not won at Anfield in 47 years and that was never going to change. Do West Ham realise just how close they are to plummeting into the Championship? Wigan Athletic showed on Sunday that anything is actually possible in the Premier League and the Irons are flirting with disaster at the moment.

Two nasty fixtures remain. Yes, Fulham away is usually a guaranteed three points for the Hammers, but that was during times when they had a team which could compete week in week out with most sides in the division. Ilan had been the saviour in the two games before the trip to Liverpool but West Ham are going to need a lot more to stay up than a Brazilian who was picked up on a free transfer from St Etienne. Last time the Hammers were in this mess, they had Carlos Tevez, which speaks volumes about their current plight. It seems at the moment that West Ham are making no real strides forward in their bid for survival but more sitting on the fact that Hull and Burnley are simply not good enough to overtake them. Four points from the last two games have put West Ham back in the ‘should be safe’ bracket along with Wigan but after the Latics’ heroics on Sunday afternoon, it gives the team from Lancashire an enormous boost not only for their points tally, but for their confidence as they head to the Boleyn Ground on Saturday. West Ham were never realistically going to get anything from Liverpool – such is the predictability of the division at times – but those who remember West Ham’s anonymous mid-table finish last season will recall that at Anfield last season, they gained a creditable 0-0 draw, showing a lot of grit to hold on for the point. This year they barely turned up. An awkward final day fixture sees Manchester City arrive at the Boleyn and all Hammers’ fans will be hoping the race for fourth is over by then. If City do have to win to get into the Champions League and West Ham can still go down, at least it is a home fixture. Having not won on the road since the opening day when they visited Wolves at Molineux, away days have become a mostly pointless and often painful exercise.

Looking on to next season, the lack of quality currently in the squad – combined with the fact no-nonsense owners David Gold and David Sullivan will probably want to install their own man at the helm – it seems Gianfranco Zola’s days are definitely numbered. Many names have been thrown around the vicinity of Upton Park recently with some firmly believing Birmingham City’s season has been a false dawn and Alex McLeish will depart for East London in the summer, while the name of Mark Hughes has also been mentioned – but the latter will most likely be linked with any vacant top flight job. Championship football is unthinkable for a club which is already on the brink of financial meltdown whilst playing in the richest league in the world. Such is the gulf between the Premier League and the Championship at the moment any team that suffers relegation and is not prepared for it runs the risk of going bust altogether. Newcastle United went down – and granted they were not expecting it – but they had assets to sell such as Damien Duff and Obafemi Martins which helped cover the wage bill whilst praying for an instant return, which they achieved.

The worst case scenario now is relegation, but how many of West Ham’s players could pull in a fee? The three that spring to mind are the English trio of Carlton Cole, Scott Parker and Robert Green which if taken out of the side, leaves no spine at all. Rumours that Valon Behrami is also on his way out in the summer regardless just leaves Hammers’ fans bewildered over how badly the club has been run in recent years, and quite simply, the fans deserve better.

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