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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Deja Vu?

A narrow defeat suffered by Hull last night, 0-1 at Cardiff, means that remarkably, after 1 point from the last 9, we've still in 5th place. West Brom moved a point closer to the top two with a 1-1 home draw with Palarse and right now with only 8 games left there's definitely two separate races taking place.
The top four of Bristol, Stoke, Watford and West Brom are all alone in the race for the auto spots and are now covered by just 5 points with Watford and West Brom having games in hand. Meanwhile, there's now a 6 point gap before the second grouping of no less than 7 teams fighting for the 2 remaining Play-Off places. These 7 are again covered by 5 points with the last two, Ipswich and Wolves, having games in hand.
And even more remarkably Pards, optimistic as ever, remains upbeat after defeat at Burnley. Well he hasn't much choice, has he, because it's fast becoming crunch time.
Pardew has made many hints over the past months that it's his experience of this situation that will see us right in the end and looking back three years it's not difficult to see a distinct parallel with his last season in the fizzies back in 2004/05 with the Hamsters.
On March 18th 2005 West Ham had 56 points from 16 wins and 8 draws with just 8 games remaining. They had scored 53 goals and had a goal difference of plus 4. They were seventh and out of the Play-Offs.
With only 2 points from the last 5 games things were not going well for Pardew and the fans were screaming for his head when suddenly things started to improve. Three straight wins followed and 5 weeks later they had done enough with five wins and 2 draws to finish the season in the coveted 6th position on 73 points, three clear on Reading in seventh place.
Strangely enough we find ourselves in almost exactly the same position now. Exactly the same number of points, 56, and the same goals scored, 53, from 15 wins and 11 draws but with a better goal difference.
It all finished well for West Ham when, Pardew, after a two legged win over an Ipswich side containing Darren Bent, took the Hamsters to the Millenium Stadium on May 30th and beat Preston 1-0.
Revealingly, one man was clearly responsible. Of the 5 goals scored in the Play-Offs, Bobby Zamora scored 5 of them including the winner at Cardiff. And it had been Pardew who had insisted on including the 6' 1" 24 year old Zamora in the Defoe transfer deal with Spurs, taking him to Upton Park in January 2004.
Is Pards dreaming that new-boy Lita will do a Zamora? Both started their playing careers in Bristol, Lita with City, Zamora with Rovers.
Perhaps we should let Pards have the last word, "I won't hide from the fact that we've got ourselves into a hole. We've lost three league games in a row. The pressure on me and on the team is increasing, and it doesn't make it comfortable. I will look in my team to find who will be up for the challenge."
Well, that was 3 years ago but obviously nothing changes in this world as a challenge we most definitely have now with an upcoming visit to a team with the best home record in the fizzies, Ipswich Town.
Perhaps its time for Leroy Lita to light the touchpaper and do a Zamora......

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