Here’s to the next 10 years
Some teams go for years and years, decades and decades, without achieving anything at all, writes DAVE EVANS. For West Ham, the last 10 years has been something of a rollercoaster ride, but you certainly cannot say it hasn t been eventful; you certainly c
Some teams go for years and years, decades and decades, without achieving anything at all, writes DAVE EVANS.
For West Ham, the last 10 years has been something of a rollercoaster ride, but you certainly cannot say it hasn't been eventful; you certainly cannot say that there hasn't been plenty of excitement.
Relegation and play-off final misery were followed by promotion joy at the Millennium Stadium, and then that never to be forgotten FA Cup Final where West Ham did everything but take home the trophy.
A moral victory if ever there was one, before the heartbreak of the penalty shoot-out.
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There have been six managers, seven if you count Kevin Keen's one game in charge before current boss Gianfranco Zola took over the helm.
Sir Trevor Brooking, the West Ham legend, tops the list of most successful bosses during the last decade, but with only 14 games under his belt, that is something of a misnomer.
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Love him or loathe him, it was Alan Pardew who took West Ham back into the big time of the Premier League; it was he who guided the Hammers to the FA Cup Final; and he who took the club into Europe - albeit fleetingly - for the one and only time in the last 10 years.
Off the field, it has been a turbulent decade. Disliked chairman Terry Brown oversaw the selling of much of West Ham's great talent following the club's relegation in 2003.
Like a lost generation, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Jermain Defoe, Glen Johnson, Joe Cole and Michael Carrick were all sacrificed by the club, and initially replaced by inferior players that were never going to get West Ham back into the top flight.
Brown almost sold the club to Iranian businessman Kia Joorabchian, before a late bid from an Icelandic consortium headed by Eggert Magnusson and backed by Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson gained control.
Inevitably, it all went pear shaped. Magnusson spent money like it was going out of fashion, Gudmundsson eventually got rid of the chairman and then, when the global economic crisis hit Iceland like the iceberg that crashed into the Titanic, he ended up poorer than most of the West Ham supporters.
It could only happen to West Ham!
The acquisition of Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez seemed as big a shock to manager Pardew as it was to the fans, and with their arrival, first came the break-up of the team spirit that had sent West Ham to the cup final, then the sacking of Pardew, and then came the devastating aftermath from their arrivals.
A huge �5.5million fine for signing players that could be influenced by a third party (Joorabchian), was just the beginning of the problem, with the Hammers forced to pay Sheffield United a colossal and frankly ridiculous �26million in compensation, after another tribunal ruled that the presence of Tevez in the team had caused the Blades to be unfairly relegated instead of the Hammers.
There were moments of sheer drama that transcended the importance of football.
The brain tumour that struck down manager Glenn Roeder, the death of former Hammer Marc-Vivien Foe, the stabbing of a Millwall supporter in disgraceful scenes of violence outside the ground as the decade came towards an end.
There were moments of great joy too. Paolo Di Canio was a genius on the pitch as well as an unpredictable drama queen at times; the emergence of Rio Ferdinand, of Lampard, Carrick and perhaps most of all Joe Cole was a joy to behold.
That tension of West Ham's play-off victory over Preston in Cardiff; the FA Cup wins at Manchester City and against Middlesbrough in the semi-final.
The joy of leading Liverpool in the final twice and of knowing that your team turned up for the big one and played their part in perhaps the greatest FA Cup Final of modern times.
This is what football is all about. Without agony, the ecstasy would not seem quite as glorious. Without the downs, the rollercoaster would become a boring ride.
West Ham started the last decade with a 2-2 draw at Newcastle. They ended it with a 2-0 defeat at Spurs.
In between, the fans have been through every emotion possible.
So here's to the next 10 years. If they are as exciting as the last 10, then the fans are in for a white-knuckle ride.
To read the full review of the decade, see this week's super RECORDER.