season saved

West Ham had a ‘save our season’ day a couple of months ago for their must-win against Wigan. Sadly they won and lo, their season was saved (why bother playing on?). How a club that resorts to such desperate marketing to fill Upton Park plans to fill Stratford is moot. But my point is that last night’s game had a ‘save our season’ feel to it for us.

 The transfer window has seen the elite flex its muscles. Torres, Luiz, Dzeko. The only exception is Arsenal. With the retirement of Gary Neville even Man Utd have strengthened considerably.

 Liverpool have also made a statement, spending £1.5million to replace an unhappy, want-away star (and an unhappy, want-away Ryan Babel) with two young international strikers of great promise. It doesn’t sound so crazy when you put it like that, does it?

 And what have we been doing whilst all this cash has been liberally splashed around? Buying Steven Pienaar on a free and going three league games without a win. Crashing out of the FA Cup and making silly bids for every single striker in La Liga, Charlie Adam and the last Neville.

 It’s been depressing. The window shuts and we are left on the outside looking in, nose pressed against the pane like a small Victorian child in a simile I haven’t fully thought through. Suddenly a proper gap appears between fourth and fifth, and we aren’t fourth. Is it time to look down as much as up at our real competitors? Then an injury crisis hits, taking with it our two key players. A 4-0 thrashing followed by a tricky away game against a gritty resurgent Blackburn. Last night threatened to “sink our season”.

 It’s amazing what a win can do. Or rather a win and a draw, because all of a sudden its only five points and a game in hand behind City. I’ve been unwavering, of course, in my conviction that when it comes to rivals for fourth – it’s all about City.

 From what I could tell, it was a classic away performance. January wasn’t a complete write-off as we appear to have unearthed a gem of a player – some tall fella who is great in the air and can score goals. Don’t know who he is but let’s see more of him. Once we got the early goal it was a case of playing sensibly, at times defending desperately and looking dangerous on the break. Lennon in particular caused problems again, all the more surprising given that he’s been shunted to the left in the absence of Wonderbale. His one man break from penalty box to penalty box in the second half was breathtaking. A perfect lay off to leave Defoe one-on-one with spurs legend Robinson and the little man did what we all know he does so well – fluffed his lines. Zero premiership goals and counting, Jermain? Snap. Still – a couple of crackers against Charlton in the cup the other week, so mustn’t grumble.

 But really – I mustn’t. We were holding on last night, and Gomes was MOTM which tells a story. But this is exactly what we needed. Our goal-shy forwards managed to be… well, forwards. It’s a start. They are never going to be top four class but I’ve always said they are top six class. Now they need to show it by going on a three or four month purple patch. They can drop back to their true level next season when they come off the bench to give Aguero and Cavani a rest every so often..

 We may not have splashed the cash, but this team came fourth last year. Without Modric for a few months. With Bale a curse for the first half of the season. With Palacios off form. With defensive injury crises a-plenty. With Man City looking like they had the upper hand. Without Rafa van der Vaart. With Peter Crouch. Yeah, it’s all about City for fourth. Unless we make it all about us. Its not as glamourous as £35million strikers, but grit and determination go a long way. They did last season, and they did last night.

 Dare to dream. Dare to do. Season saved.

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8 responses to “season saved

  1. Rousing stuff, Oog. Whenever I lose heart I think about getting doubled by Wolves last season and blowing our chance to get some points at Anfield and we still managed it. Those away games at City and Stamford Bridge could be priceless. Anything we can get at either are going to help a lot.

  2. A great win indeed. Gomez was immense, vastly different from the cretin that turned up at Fulham on Sunday. 3 points on Sat against Bolton who have been struggling of late will see us claw back some ground on Chelsea who have Liverpool on Sunday. I fancy Liverpool to at least get a point. City have the Baggies at home a game which will only end in one outcome.

    Realistically we have to be thinking maximum points from our games in Feb to even be in with a hope of 4th place.. And, I would love it (Keegan style) if Man City faltered and didnt make the Champs League..

    If we did somehow make 4th and also progressed past AC Milan into the last 8 and possibly beyond with the squad that we have, there would be absolutely no excuse not to spend big in the summer. Imagine 3 or 4 VDV calibre signings at the Lane. You can but hope!!

  3. Quite right bagel. We’ve actually only had one stupendously bad result this season – at home to Wigan. We’ve had other disappointments and below par results, but nothing compared to the Wolves debacleesssss… err, disasters.

    Davey (does anyone actually call you Davey?) I think one thing I learned from last season is that if we want 4th, we don’t have to get maximum points from our games. We have to get one more than Man City. Last night felt epically important because of the gap, but City will drop points too even though I never think they will (they have United coming up soon, for one thing). We just need to be in striking distance come May to stand a chance.

    I do think its back to Man City and us for 4th but Chelsea are having such a weird season, who knows. I fully expect them to beat Liverpool and for Torres to score, but who knows, maybe Torres will continue to be out of form and be disruptive rather than inspirational. Fingers crossed.

  4. I’ve been thinking about that one this morning, Davey. If, touch lots of wood, that were to happen, wouldn’t we end up in that same situation as last summer where no one will sign for us until we qualify for the group stages again? That leaves you missing out on a lot of deals.

  5. I also think the stadium / boardroom politics is going to be key to transfer strategy, whatever happens. Levy is clearly up to something. I feel like one way or another we are seeing the beginning of the endgame for ENIC. But thats for later…

    I think one VDV at £8m is a once in a lifetime thing though. 3 or 4 at £8m in one summer would be amazing. Even if, as I suspect, you don’t literally mean 4 VDVs.

  6. I think that if we qualify for the champs league (qualifiers) on the back of a successful campaign (last 8 minimum) we will have one thing that we didnt have last season when we were looking – pedigree (albeit limited). This will mean that players will be more willing to take the gamble if we go in for them.

    I meant 4 VDV calibre players £50 or 60 mills worth. Lets face it this is the kind of investment we need to be making.

  7. Fabulous post. Gave me goosebumps.

  8. Every time I finally despair of Crouchy I have to write him back into the script.
    I only call him ‘Crouchy’ when he scores.
    He not only scored the winner and only goal he wrecked my 0-0 forecast.
    Enjoyable read as usual.

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