When the draw for the third-round of the FA Cup was made on Monday evening, a trip to Goodison Park was the tough test West Ham fans were hoping to avoid this year.
The trip looks daunting as the team has a poor record in Liverpool. They have not won at Goodison since the 2005/06 campaign and the record continued this season as they were defeated there just last month.
Sam Allardyce’s men only lasted one round in last year’s FA Cup and it was very embarrassing as they were humiliated by Championship side Nottingham Forest. To make the situation even worse, it was selected to be on national television at midday on a Sunday. Supporters travelling from all parts of the country to support their team were not best pleased.
The usual large contingent of travelling fans was even more upset when they saw that the bulk of the side were youth-team players. While it is always good to blood the youngsters in competitions like this, you wouldn’t normally expect to see a whole team of them!
In the interviews with West Ham TV, both before and after the game, Big Sam stated that West Ham’s focus would be on their Capital One Cup semi-final first leg tie away at Manchester City just three days later.
During the Christmas period and at the start of the New Year, the Hammers were suffering with a large number of injuries and suspensions, so although they reverted to something resembling a first-team for the match at the Etihad Stadium, the embarrassment continued unabated; this time they went on to lose 6-0. When the return leg was played, City knocked in a further three goals to make the east Londoners look a laughing stock. The prices for that match were set before the first leg and cost at least £42, so it was little wonder that the attendance was so low.
Despite last season’s failings, the owners continued to back Allardyce and provided money for better players in the summer. So far this season it has paid off with the club currently sitting in fourth place in the table.
These days the FA Cup tends to provide the opportunity for some of the squad players to be involved and at this moment, the likes of quality players such as Joey O’Brien, Matt Jarvis, Carlton Cole, Guy Demel and Ricardo Vaz Te are desperate to stake a claim.
Right now the fans have the belief that we can beat anyone and remarkably, our record against Everton in the FA Cup is a good one, given that we have beaten them on the last four occasions that the two sides have met. When West Ham last lifted the trophy back in 1980, they overcame the considerable challenge of Everton at the semi-final stage.
Winning the FA Cup may just be a realistic target this season.