We're going down with a European cup

I must admit to being amused by the black humour of our fans who have been singing this little ditty for a while now.

It would be so very West Ham, and the quarter final and semi final draws have given us a decent chance of getting to the final. Gent are not a frightening prospect in the last eight, full circle back to 1965 that and if we get past them there's Anderlecht or AZ Alkmaar in the semis - and we've already beaten Anderlecht in the group stages.

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But let's not start thinking that Europe is more important than avoiding relegation. Relegation would be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, disaster to hit a big club in modern football. We'd lose or have to sell all our top players and see over £200m - and that's a conservative estimate - disappear overnight.

Parachute payments of £44m, £36m and £16m over three seasons would be a drop in the ocean for a club that has a £135m wage bill and would see commercial, ticket sales and TV revenue slashed accordingly.

Back in 2003 we eventually lost Joe Cole, Paolo Di Canio, Glen Johnson, Jermain Defoe, David James and Freddie Kanoute. Looking at our current side, not one would be retained with all earning between £60,000 and £130,000 a week.

If you think our relegations of 2003 and 2011 were bad enough, you ain't seen nothing yet. Yes, Burnley are bouncing straight back up, we also did too under Sam Allardyce, and the likes of West Brom and Norwich make a habit of it.

But they are nothing like as big a club as West Ham, they own their own grounds for a start. Look how long it is taking Coventry, Sunderland, Birmingham, Stoke, QPR to return to the Premier League. And then there's Sheffield Wednesday, Derby, Ipswich, Portsmouth and Bolton.

I suppose I talk from a position of having seen West Ham win a European trophy back in 1965 and I'd love us to win the UEFA Conference League, but staying in the Premier League takes precedence for me any day.

That's not to say that despite the continued pressure for David Moyes to be sacked, I'm not pleased with back-to-back European quarter finals, something we have only achieved once before and that was the 1965 and 1966 seasons. But I find it hard to understand the many - and social media is full of them - who will be prepared to accept relegation and a European trophy success.

To be honest - and despite the continued issues with our side and the way it is being managed - West Ham can achieve both. With big clubs like Lazio and Villarreal going out of the competition this week, there's a golden chance to get to the final in Prague on 7 June.

Thoughts of the future always bring back memories of the past and it's been quite a week for anniversaries. The iconic 1964 FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough against Manchester United was 59 years ago on Tuesday. The day when we all got drenched to the skin and saw that amazing 3-2 victory that took us to Wembley for our first-ever FA Cup Final victory.

And Thursday marked the 57th anniversary of our European Cup Winners' Cup quarter final victory over Magdeburg. That was also the season when we achieved our biggest victory in Europe, a 4-0 win over Olympiacos which took us into that Magdeburg quarter final.

But the real anniversary this week that stands out is the last time we were in a Wembley cup final, the League Cup clash with Liverpool. That was 42 years ago on Thursday. Memories of that a no doubt fresh in a few of your minds, rather that my recollections of the 1960s.

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The Ray Stewart penalty that forced a replay at Villa Park, lost 2-1 after Paul Goddard's opener. Back at Wembley, of course, there was the uproar over referee Clive Thomas allowing Alan Kennedy's goal despite Sammy Lee being in an obvious offside position. I doubt we'd ever seen manager John Lyall so angry.

Incidentally, our penalty equaliser came after Terry McDermott punched Alvin Martin's header over the bar. These days he would have been red-carded and ruled out of the replay. But not then, and he played at Villa Park.

But the real point of all this is to underline how much more damaging relegation is now to those good old days. We were in the Second Division then, having gone down in 1978. But our squad was not decimated then, when football finances were so different.

That Wembley team included Phil Parkes, Stewart, Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, Alvin Martin, Frank Lampard and Alan Devonshire. Relegation was just not the same or as damaging then. That team won the Division Two title that season, losing just four matches.

Now the Sky/financial gap is so vast, nobody goes down and holds on to their best players.

We've been relegated six times. My old fella - he'd have been 103 this week - saw us relegated in 1931/32. I've had the misfortune of witnessing three of the five since then. It's not something I want to experience again.

As for this week's 4-0 win over AEK Larnaca, it was pleasing but did not really tell us much we didn't already know. Jarrod Bowen is now our top scorer in Europe after his two second half efforts, and we've won ten on the trot in Europe. No mean achievement.

But Larnaca are no better than the bottom half of the Championship, if that. We should not be having problems with clubs of that calibre.

As for the Aston Villa game, which seems a long while ago now, having watched it back without the endless tirade of criticism it was a better performance than I first thought. Benrahma is looking a much better player than he did at the beginning of the season, and with a touch more luck with two chances on the back post, could have had a hat-trick.

But having seen a statistic that showed him having a less than 40 per cent passing success rate at Brighton the previous week, you can see why he was hooked there and why he's so frustrating at times. But, hey, you are not allowed to be critical of the terrace darling, are you?

He is having his best run of the season and long may it continue. As for the rest of the off-field stuff, where do you start?

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There's been a long tirade on social media this week that is unattributed but is still doing the rounds, whether it's accurate or not. There's no chance of any reputable fans' site or media outlet touching it with a barge pole but regardless, the words seep into the psyche and are believed by many.

And that's the real problem - and that includes the misuse of analytical material and terminology (which is no criticism of the fine young men who make a living out of it all). I read it, digest it(even if I'm not too sure what ‘tilt' or ‘def action height' are, but I'll let that pass for now. (I have had it explained to me since!)

Did anyone hear the radio rant from Dean Saunders, ex- Villa and Liverpool, who raged on about the new terminology, talking about how ‘high press' was just ‘closing down' in his day? But, and this is the serious bit, clubs like Brighton and Brentford are utilising all this and you can see how much they have improved.

Do we have enough people doing this? David Sullivan is notorious for not being over-concerned by this level of football science anyway, preferring to utilise the knowledge of his agent mates when launching into the transfer market.

I know Kevin Nolan has an iPad and Moyes has, without doubt, employed laptop whizkids. But at the same time one site is insisting we don't have an analysis department and that's in the face of the known facts that clubs are benefitting hugely from this level of technical knowledge.

Do we actually have enough people working on this? It's hugely labour intensive and that may be the wall of indifference that Moyes or any manager faces working for Sullivan. I hope I'm wrong here, but it would be good to know if the rumours are true.

As for the stadium and our future ownership, there's more speculation regarding a potential US investment who would want the club, stadium and surrounding land. Once again the powers that be above our board are aware of such interest.

As for Sullivan, he is not only backing Moyes and showing no signs of moving on any time soon. He and Karren Brady have both voiced support publicly. Well they would, wouldn't they?

Another European quarter final and a two-week break before the Southampton match will give them breathing space.

They may be saying there's nobody better out there, but Michael Carrick is now on their radar and sources in the north east suggest he is open to offers. But I hear that Vincent Company - who has Craig Bellamy working as his right hand man at Burnley - is way off the mark. When Pep eventually goes, Kompany is hot favourite for the Manchester City job.

It will be interesting to see who Crystal Palace now go for and put to the test Sullivan's theory there is no one out there better than what we have. You would assume any Palace appointment would be someone who would have been available to us had we axed Moyes. Let's see who they come up with.

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