It doesn’t happen very often. But sometimes, I get it wrong.
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying to your computer screen, “That’s not true, Brent. You’re being modest. Give your head a shake and have a beer on me…”
Alas, faithful readers, I have erred. It turns out that I am not the reliable prognasticator I once thought I was. And it’s all thanks to a certain Israeli manager who manages a certain East London club.
I had predicted in early December that Avram Grant would be fired by Christmas. West Ham were at the bottom of the table and were up against the wall. I said how the holiday swing was going to kill the team — and the career of the gaffer. Indeed, through December and the first half of January, with the Hammers going 2-3-3, it seemed like curtains for both Grant and the club’s Premier League hopes.
But then a couple of cup runs seemed to give the Irons a spark. They won their 3rd round FA Cup tie against Burnley 2-0. Then three days later, they beat fellow Premier League strugglers Birmingham in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final. Since then, they have gone 5-2-3 in all competitions.
It could be that Avram Grant finally has a team that is “too good to go down”. The team has scored thirteen goals in their last four games. It’s likely no coincidence that this spurt is due to the arrival of striker Demba Ba (you don’t say his name, so much as let it spill out of your mouth) from TSG Hoffenheim in February. In the five games he has played, both Ba and strike partner Carlton Cole have each scored four goals.
But the keystone of West Ham’s mini-turnaround has to be Scott Parker. The midfielder and captain has been bossing the centre of the park, marshalling his teammates both physically and mentally as they have clawed their way out of the relegation zone… at least for the time being. Many of his teammates — as well as English pundits — say Parker should be named Player of the Year for his pluck in the face of West Ham’s dreadful first half of the season results.
I’m not going to say that they won’t go down. West Ham are only just above Brum in the relegation zone… and the Blues still have two games in hand. The Hammers still have to face Spurs, Chelsea and Man City away, as well as play first-place Manchester United at home. Plus, they still have to continue their FA Cup run, facing sinking Stoke again for the second time in a week.
With the Boleyn Ground averaging about 33-thousand fans a season — and the brand spanking new Olympic stadium waiting to be taken over — West Ham is a biggish club that thinks it has a brighter future. I’d tell you where that future lies… but I’m afraid of being wrong again. That would be just scary…