Survival Sunday: Was there anyone in the country with even the remotest interest in football who wasn't enthralled by the days events? With the excitement garnered elsewhere, the lack of even a small chance of retaining the last bit of pride left in east London was a bitter pill to swallow. I was probably more disappointed this week than I was last that West Ham couldn't even give us a last day hurrah.
I'd hoped for a decent win so that I could underline the importance of the lack of detail that has gone into this season's campaign - something I was interested to see was picked up last week by the Telegraph's Henry Winter, a couple of Mirror hacks and no lesser light than La Brady herself (Not that I'm suggesting any of them read my Soccernet blog, you understand...).
Perhaps we could point to just one loss or a dropped point here or there to convince ourselves that it could all have been so different. But the awfullness of this season was underlined by an inept capitulation, of which the only reedeming factor was the fact that we ended the campaign so adrift there wasn't even a sense of 'What If?' about it all. 3-0 at home to Sunderland says all that need be said.
It would be an insult to suggest that this match highlighted the spineless, ineffective shambles that West Ham have become this season; virtually every game bar five or six has been an advert for how not to run a football club. Nevertheless, it's still hard to look at the centre of that team and not wonder how it all came about, difficult to pinpoint how, as happened for Sunderland's second goal, a Premiership player can run unmarked half the length of the pitch and be invited to take a shot.
Shocking, truly shocking, the mental state of the players wearing the claret and blue shirts like a string of washing on a line is now beyond comprehension. I have seen some bad West Ham teams before but I have never seen a side so devoid of character and pride. It is as if an awful cancer has spread throughout the team and I imagine it it going to take major surgery to cure this ailing patient.
I don't. however, subscribe to the theory that West Ham can drop through the Championship as well. There is too much invested in the future of the club to allow that to happen and, regardless of how it comes about, I'm pretty sure the owners will realise their investment is on the line if something isn't done pretty quickly. Providing there are no end-of-season sales like the one that took Joe Cole to Chelsea for a paltry £6m back in 2003 - and I don't see why there should be - some of the money gained from those who will undoubtably leave could be invested in and used wisely by a decent incoming Manager. It all hinges on that appointment though. It has to be right.
So, as West Ham bid farewell to the Premier League, so do I. Soccernet don't have correspondents for the Championship and I've decided to take a sabbatical and recharge the batteries and try to complete that 'difficult second book'. Although I joked about clearing my desk at Soccernet Towers last week, the ESPN crew have made it quite clear I can pop in any time I like and leave a blog or two (although don't you always say that when someone leaves your office? You don't mean it though, do you?).
So, we may meet again someday soon, God willing. In the meantime, thank you very much to everyone who has emailed me and continues to keep in touch. I am genuinely touched by the amount of people who take time to write - particularly when the emails sometime come from places I can barely pinpoint on a map. Feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and keep up to date with events at my home site. Ah well, I'll just pick this old box up and carry it out to the boot of the car...
"Like my dreams, they fade and die" Perhaps I should just spend the time trying to write a new song, eh?
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