Wednesday 13 January 2016

Does anybody really prefer the FA Cup to the Champions League?

Feel the romance!
There can be no doubting Slaven Bilic's ability to say the right thing when talking about his Hammers side. His passion and honesty flow freely and do make you wonder why so many of his counterparts at other clubs insist on filling us with vacuous drivel. His recent comments about the romance of the FA Cup were classic Bilic, serving to rally fans around the cause with a realistic focus.

However, citing an FA Cup run as a preference over Champions League qualification is possibly overstating things. The cup is great fun, and has been disgracefully downgraded by a generation of myopic and passionless managers trying to emulate Fergie, but it is still the second prize. What we really dream of for the 'new' West Ham is that we can compete at the same table as Europe's biggest clubs - and there's only one place for that.

After last night's proceedings at Bournemouth Mr Bilic may have to row back a little on his comments! With 17 games to go, we are sitting in fifth and very much in the ascendency. This season is a strange one that seems more capable than most of throwing up a surprise. Arsenal and Man City look to be the two most likely to be fighting it out for the title. Elsewhere, Leicester look more vulnerable with Jamie Vardy's availability not guaranteed, Tottenham are the eternal almost club, while Man United are in chaos.

At 35 points we have every right to feel we have been unlucky with injuries. One wonders how many points the Payet injury cost us? So many of our recent draws would surely have been wins if he had been on the pitch, but spilt milk comes to mind! Our solid defence can provide the rock upon which we push for the top four, if Payet stays fit and we get a modicum of decent fortune with injuries, then it really could be game on for the Champions League.

One issue is whether we should splash some cash in the transfer window as it really does seem like a speculate to accumulate situation, especially with Andy Carroll gone again for four weeks (and noting that, in contrast to our other players,  his injuries are always longer than first announced). Diafra Sakho will hopefully be welcomed back in three weeks or so but if not we have a problem that could decide our Champion's League fate. Despite his recent success against Wolves, and Bilic's fondness for him, Jelavic does not look like the striker to lead us into Europe. Would spending 5-6 million on Charlie Austin (his contract expires in the Summer so previous figures no longer apply!) bring us the financial rewards of first tier European football next year? It makes for an interesting conundrum for the Davids!


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