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The legacy of over-achievement

Filed: Thursday, 25th November 2004
By: The Commissar

I was browsing round the net today and stumbled across the following website:


... which has done a calculation of everything ever achieved by all teams in English football and then turned the data into a kind of historical league ranking.

The basic conclusion, among other things, is that West Ham's historical ranking in English football is 6th in Division One (or the Coca Cola Championship) - or 26th overall. That data was compiled a couple of years ago but our position, if anything, will only have slipped further since then.

From this perspective, it can be argued that in our current position we are, as a club, perfectly fulfilling all expectations based on our past achievements, which is a view strangely at odds with the feelings of most our supporters. Instead of viewing our status as a Premiership club by right, it can be shown that our years under Redknapp and latterly Roeder was actually a period of over-achievement.

The perceived decline of the club over the last two seasons is not necessarily the waning of a once great football club but rather a slow and inevitable return to our natural position within the football firmament. Therefore, do the West Ham faithful have too high expectations for the club, and is the current regime suffering unduly as a result?

It seems that the burden of expectation has weighed more heavily on the shoulders of the current manager than any other that I can remember, and yet his job in the current climate is one of the most difficult ever faced by a West Ham manager. When West Ham were last in the second tier of English football, the atmosphere back then was nowhere near as oppressive and intolerant as it these days. The support in general was more vocal, indulgent and on the whole supportive.

It's clear that there are multiple reasons for this change in attitude, primarily an increased air of desperation brought about by our increasingly parlous financial situation. Certainly, the precarious nature of our plight has become imbedded in our collective conscience. The statistics are sensationalised in the media and endlessly paraded by the experts. The actions and statements of the board and manager have been designed to make us aware and hopefully accepting of the fire sales and price hikes etc but have had the inevitable effect of breeding nervousness and fear and as a result widespread frustration.

The second major reason why the West Ham fans are overly demanding of the team can be traced back to our recent successes. Perhaps the real damaging legacy of the Redknapp/Roeder years will not be the badly invested transfer funds or the hugely excessive wage bill, but rather the grossly inflated sense of our club's true position brought about by over-achievement.

In a sense, those Premiership years have poisoned the well for the foreseeable future. There must be a younger generation of supporters who have known more top-flight football at Upton Park than anything else, fans who believe that the Premiership is the rule rather than the exception. There might even be an older generation of supporter who have gorged themselves on the excesses of Premier football, luxuriated in the comparably sumptuous football regularly produced over those years, who don't want to remember the time when it was never thus.

Most likely, there is also the kind of supporter who never experienced the barren years because they only became involved with the club because of the Premiership status.

All of which doesn't help Alan Pardew or the present West Ham team, both of whom continue to get my vociferous support. I don't know what I'm trying to say with this little rant, I'll leave others to draw conclusions from the statistics. I just know that when I look around at the pockets of supporters who are chanting for the manager's head, I really want to understand them but I can't.

My only thought is that they can't have watched this football club for anywhere near as long as I have.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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