In recent weeks, results and performances especially at home have not gone to plan for West Ham United, but given that the last home game was a London derby against fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, the players were really keen to put on a show to send the fans home happy.
The Hammers were booed off when they beat Hull City 2-1 at Upton Park recently and it has to be said, luck was on their side that evening. There appeared to be little intensity to really push on against a modest side who were down to 10 men. To make things worse the home side’s goals came from a penalty and James Chester putting through his own net. So it’s not hard to see why the majority who had paid large amounts of money to be part of the crowd for that game were unhappy.
Crucially, apart from the results against Hull and Sunderland, they had lost seven of the last nine games and without the unbeaten run in February; they have failed to achieve results on a consistent basis all season.
When the two sides met again in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup, there must have been an expectation from the fans that travelled up that night, but it is very rare that lightning strikes in the same place twice. Well on this occasion it did and for that reason, Spurs were out to try and get their revenge this weekend.
The East Londoners were hoping to try and complete a unique hat-trick of winning against Spurs, which hasn’t happened before in the history of the Premier League. They were not only desperate to do it for the fans, but after wasting excellent chances to confirm their position in the top-flight for next season on a number of occasions in recent weeks, that was a milestone they also wanted to reach.
As it often is, the atmosphere inside the ground before kick-off was electric but it really was something special this time as the fans are such big rivals. Sides like West Ham are just not expected to beat teams like Spurs on a regular basis, so when it happens it is very satisfying!
Unlike the game against the Tigers, they pushed on instead of trying to hold on to what they had and created numerous chances to build on their lead, while Spurs rarely threatened. In fact, Stuart Downing said after the match on the subject of Spurs, for a team that had spent a considerable amount of money on talent last summer, “we made them look average.”
With the euphoria of a 2-0 advantage, although no further goals were scored, the majority inside the ground began taunting the visiting supporters with chants such as, “it’s happening again”, and by the hour mark, the home fans were even ironically suggesting that Sherwood should remain in charge at White Hart Lane next season!
When the game ended this time, the fans echoed the Boleyn Ground with cheers, instead of the booing that had greeted the final whistle after some of those performances against the lower placed teams in recent weeks.
It was clear from this game that West Ham had learnt from their mistakes in previous matches and had finally wised up to the fact that the players just have to entertain, then, in turn, the fans will back them all the way.