Well, that was all rather anti-climatic wasn’t it? After all the good displays the Irons have produced at the Boleyn this season, arguably the biggest game of the season, the final ever FA Cup game at our famous old home, provided the team’s worst Upton Park performance of the season and the players and our cup dreams faded in front of our very eyes.
In truth, the visitors deserved their success – the Red Devils won every second ball and produced the better football when it mattered most. Meanwhile, the Hammers looked jaded, flat and uncharacteristically short of ideas. The decision to start Enner Valencia has caused quite a stir amongst the West Ham faithful, and whilst his display was poor, to criticise Slaven Bilic seems very harsh indeed.
At the end of the day he and his staff have given us one of our most memorable seasons – wins at Anfield, the Etihad and the Emirates shows just how far the Croatian has taken us. The disappointment from Wednesday night is still very much real though. This was our best chance of silverware in a long time, but it just wasn’t to be. In truth, we had the match won at Old Trafford but thanks to a slack bit of defending and with the aid of a shoulder barge to the face of Darren Randolph from a certain German midfielder, it was cruelly taken away from us.
The players looked flat, lethargic and knackered on Wednesday, and understandably so. They gave their all against Arsenal on Saturday to secure a memorable draw. We also mustn’t forget our season started in early July. The FA Cup just wasn’t meant to be this year, but the signs are promising for next year, and with the right investment in the summer, this squad with a few tweaks will be extremely competitive next year, that I am sure of.
Looking ahead to the rest of the season; what can we expect from the Irons?
In reality, it all comes down to how the boys react after Wednesday’s disappointment. They still have six huge games left and still have an outside chance of achieving that illustrious top four finish. It looks unlikely now of course after the club only picked up two points from their last two league games however.
It was billed as the biggest week in our season, and with refereeing decisions and a little bit of bad defending thrown in, the Hammers bottled it. With that, their FA Cup dreams have gone and the two points in the league they picked up mean they face a fight to grab that spot in the Champions League places.
The one positive we can take for last week was the form of Andy Carroll. The big striker was back to his unplayable self against Arsenal and played a critical role in setting up James Tomkins for our goal against United the other night.
He will play a vital role in the run-in, injury-free and with a point to prove, and with half an eye on the Euros, he is a dangerous weapon to have in our artillery at the moment. Keeping him fit, firing and focused could be the biggest trump card we have at the minute, especially with the drama involving Diafra Sakho going on behind the scenes.
Carroll’s form is timely and if he can continue it there is no reason why the former Newcastle man shouldn’t be on that plane to France, as on his day there is no player like him in world football.
These are a vital final six games starting with Leicester on Sunday. And with winnable fixtures coming up, our destiny is in our own hands. Win four of the final six games and that top-five finish is almost guaranteed. Let our heads drop after Wednesday night and lose a few on the trot and the club could be staring at a disappointing seventh-placed finish, and in reality after the hard work and effort we’ve put in this season, that would be seen as a disappointment.
We must bounce back, and I believe we will. I can’t see us losing another home game, and that could be crucial come the final day.
Come on you Irons!