Sunday, 10 August 2008

Hammers to fall

I'm being uncharacteristically coy about predicting this season's title race. You can't look much further than United or Chelsea but even so, there's little skill in it and there's a flip-of-the-coin chance of being wrong!

But one plucky prediction I am willing to make is this: West Ham will have more than a flirtation with relegation: they will follow Stoke and Hull and fall through the Premier League trapdoor.

What makes me so cocksure about this? Two things:

1) They've paid out millions to say goodbye to Freddie Ljungberg: He was a terrible signing anyway. After all, if he'd been useful to Arsene Wenger, the Professor would've kept him at The Emirates.

Ljungberg's not made old bones as a footballer and his injury woes began long ago. The Hammers handling of the past-his-sell-by-date Swede shows a lack of management skill for more than just the last 12 months.

2) Retiring the number 6 shirt: what a cock-eyed miscalculation that is! West Ham proudly announced that to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Sir Bobby Moore's debut, his hallowed shirt would never be seen again. Matthew Upson's moving to the positively unhallowed number 15.

No club with a respect for its own tradition and the motivation that past successes can wrought would do such a thing.

In the very same week, Liverpool unveiled new signing Robbie Keane and boss Rafa Benitez gave him the number 7 shirt. Not a number Keane's been associated with before but the shirt of Anfield legends Dalglish and Keegan. No issues about what's expected of the twenty million pound man then!

Same at Old Trafford: Fergie gave Ronaldo number 7 the minute Beckham was shoe'd out the door. Best, Cantona and Robson's number. It's fair to say Ronaldo responded well.

United and Liverpool are well-run clubs with a keen eye on who they are. The number 6 shirt at West Ham is the shirt of their undisputed legend.

They should use everything in their armoury to say "yes, you laddie, you can emulate Bobby Moore, here's his shirt number."

They don't.

They're dowdy, they're miserable and they don't believe. They can't live upto their fans expectations. That's why they're going down.

Welcome to my Soccermongery!