The HamburgHammer Column

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So there was no West Ham game over the weekend just gone, but if it has been all a bit too quiet for our collective liking, well, that’s merely the last remnants of calm before a very long and potentially season-defining storm: Seven games in just under four weeks is one hell of an ask for any football team, not to mention our gang of walking wounded yet highly “professional“ athletes.

Ice hockey teams are used to playing 3-4 games in 7 days regularly, baseball teams during a normal regular season play almost every single day, 162 games in total.

In our current situation it’s all coming together: A mad fixture calendar, bursting at the seams, with every game now taking on the significance of a cup final almost, with our club perched ever so fragile just above the relegation zone, having one eye on our own results and the other on the games of four or five other clubs, all of whom will be desperately trying to cling onto the buffer of the last wagon rumbling along at the rear of the illustrious PL gravy train, or rather liquor train in West Ham’s case of course!

Strangely enough our player availability doesn’t seem to have benefitted much from lockdown, so as usual we already have 3-4 players out with injury or niggles limiting our options. With so many games coming up in quick succession, rotating players in the final seven games will not just have to be a tactical ploy chosen by our magnificent manager but a decision dictated by the sheer necessity of circumstances. Some of our players may need to sit out every other game to prevent knocks or fatigue-related potentially season-ending injuries.

Pub quiz question: (It’s not really because there is no definitive answer.)
How many players need to be injured before we see Ajeti getting a start ? Has he said something nasty in training about Scotland or David Moyes’s missus to deserve continually getting the cold shoulder treatment from the gaffer, even with our top striker Haller still unavailable ?
At least Ajeti is a proper striker by trade…

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I said before we would stay up by the skin of our dentures – and I’m sticking to that view after seeing our relegation rivals struggle to find wins in their most recent games over the past few days.
Teams escaping the drop usually do so by scraping two or three wins together during the final stretch, not by getting three draws and two defeats in five games.

Don’t get me wrong. When I’m watching us play these days I am not impressed with our football. Far from it. Our performances don’t fill me with confidence. And David Moyes doesn’t exactly ooze confidence or tactical nous, neither does he appear to have the guts required for a relegation tussle.

Still, come along for the ride, fasten your seatbelts and remember this is a non-smoking relegation battle. Our cabin crew will be with you shortly, offering you a selection of tasty snacks and drinks, followed by a vast sample of our extensive range of duty-free items at unbeatable prices…oh, nevermind! ;-)

The way I see it West Ham and at least three other teams are presently out in the savannah sun, blundering on without a tour guide or a clue after getting lost on safari, suddenly being chased by a hungry lion, representing relegation from the rich hunting and grazing grounds which is the Premier League.

Now, West Ham of course are not particularly well equipped to outsmart or outmuscle this big cat, we don’t run particularly fast, neither can we boast any decent level of stamina or brute strength to save our skin.
Which already is heavily sunburnt to an unhealthy and aching degree, our liquid supply is down to just half a pint of warm and stale H2O and we also haven’t eaten (won a game of football) in quite a while.

What we do have is a shotgun and ammunition, however, the cartridges we are carrying are actually for the other rifle we left behind in the gun rack by mistake three days ago when we left the safari lodge.
We are weary, depleted and probably already have given up hope of ever shaking off that fearsome and irritating monster that is closing in behind us now by the way, being still very peckish. Does the lion maybe care that we shouldn’t even be out here among this bunch of losers/potential prey in the first place ?
Do ostriches spread their wings and fly to Europe every summer on holiday ?
Exactly!

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Under normal circumstances we wouldn’t stand a chance, but the other chaps running for their lives as well now, beside or right behind us, could actually be presenting us with an unexpected escape route here.

You see, one of our fellow sufferers has a bad hip, bless him, and only one bullet left in his rifle, if he misses the target with the only shot he has, his hands trembling with fear and horror, he is toast. Or rather ragout.

The other one has underestimated the problem altogether, having known only those docile lions from his local Birmingham Zoo and they get fed beef leg and pork shoulder, regular as clockwork, don’t they, so why then would a lion, any lion, even want to eat a human ? AAARRRGHH!!!
While he’s still busy pondering this undoubtedly interesting question the big cat in the meantime has latched onto his chest, providing a straightforward, yet cruel answer. Today it’ll be human leg and tourist shoulder for dinner for a change…what a treat!

And finally there is a third bloke, another poor soul who is really not that different from us at all, in terms of stature, strength and weaponry (or lack of it), alas, he just happens to find himself in the unfortunate position of being a step or two behind us.

So the Panthera leo (I’m mentioning the Latin name especially for you, Mr.Rees-Mogg, in case you’re reading this!) gets the other guy first (while West Ham are still slogging along unscathed, relieved to be able to tell the tale) and despite fighting back bravely with bad breath, colourful language, the courage of having nothing left to lose and the blade of a fake Swiss army knife picked up from a souvenir shop in Nairobi, the poor geezer just behind us represents the final course of the predator’s all-you-can-eat buffet this season.

After feasting on three humans the cat’s enormous appetite has been satisfied at last and there’s no need for the king of animals to hunt again…until next season…

So, there you have it, West Ham staying up, not thanks to our own admirable effort or footballing brilliance, but rather through rotten luck and ineptitude of other clubs.

That’s my rather bleak prediction and it’s with that picture in mind that I shall be watching the upcoming games. Not my idea of fun. It’ll be a chore. I think I prefer washing the dishes. But you never know for sure, maybe it’ll be brilliant and the lads will finally discover their shooting boots after all!

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It doesn’t make much sense to think ahead to next season at this point.
Will the boy in the picture above still be blowing pretty Premier League bubbles once September comes around ?
Or will we be playing the likes of QPR, Reading or Wigan (all of them former PL clubs at one stage) – not in the Cup but in league fixtures ? We’ll see. I probably won’t, as broadcasts of Championship games are harder to come by. Which then would certainly affect the future of this column.

The West Ham players still have the destiny of this club in their own hands and feet.
I’m not sure that’s much of a comforting thought at this point.
Two or three wins might be enough to see us through, looking at our rivals’ current form and squads, all fighting their own battles down there at the bottom of the league.

But should West Ham United even be in this awkward situation, time and time again ?

I don’t think so. So, let’s show some effing pride, passion and desire for once and JUST STAY UP!

We can sort out the rest later. COYI!!!