|First successful penalty in Premiership this season!|
West Ham picked up a rare win yesterday as they downed bottom of the table Burnley at Upton Park. Given the advantage of an extra man from the 24th minute, when Michael Duff was harshly judged to warrant a red card after a coming-together with Cheik Kouyate, one has to wonder how the Hammers couldn't extend their 1-0 lead and again stumbled home. All the same, West Ham are back up to ninth.
All of that was of minor consequence as the Europa league fair play place was also under scrutiny. Over the past few weeks it has been nip and tuck in terms of yellow card count, while the rating of the fair play judges in terms of postive play and the conduct of players and officials remains unknown. Of note, Big Sam has been mighty quiet about refereeing decisions and the performances of the team could hardly be described as overcommitted!
None the less, it now seems highly likely that the Hammers will top the league and if England can hold on to one of the top three berths in the European table (currently third), the Hammers can start preparing for European football next season. The down side being that the competition starts in July!
Some sources have suggested that the Europa league is actually a booby prize as it places added pressure on the squad in terms of additional games and, importantly, midweek travel. For fans, the Thursday night European fixtures result in an excess of Sunday matches.
In the last season before the move to the Olympic stadium, maybe the Hammers could do without the distraction - especially when one considers that of the English qualifiers for the Europa league over the past decade, eight have subsequently been relegated - Blackburn, Bolton, Portsmouth, Fulham, Birmingham City, Middlesboro, Wigan and - yes........ West Ham!
Perhaps it's time they gave an extra players allowance to sides in European competition.