Latest

We’re all going on a European bore

|

After Saturday’s “Fair Play Cup Final” between West Ham and Everton, the Hammers are poised to qualify for next season’s UEFA Europa League. It was a touch encounter in which Everton collected as many yellow cards as possible in order to avoid qualifying for the Europa league (do they know something we don’t know?) whilst West Ham managed to come out of the game on top in nothing other than fair play points. We are now but one game (and Liverpool not slipping) away from qualifying for Europe under Sam Allardyce (no, I know) – but will a possible Europa League campaign for West Ham next season cause more harm than good?

With regards to morale, it should be a good thing. The simple act of qualifying has got to be a bit of a boost for an increasingly frustrated fan base. Although it’s a back door we snuck through, West Ham should be proud that we’ve actually played by the rules this season. We haven’t cheated, lied, fouled and dived all season long – it’s been noted now that we did the right thing (and would you look at that, we were only ever awarded two penalties for doing the right thing, but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.)

This season has gone down such a frustrating route that to qualify for Europe, however it happens, should be seen as a sign of improvement on previous years for the Hammers.

The problem, however, arises when we consider how heavily we get involved in the competition, as there is a strong possibility that playing in Europe could do more damage than good for the Hammers. Having to devote ourselves to another competition when we aren’t exactly masters of the ones we are currently involved in (Premier League, FA Cup, Capital One Cup) is a massive drain on our available players and their fitness levels.

Consider Everton and Spurs; both teams played in the Europa league during the 2014-15 season and both teams suffered domestically as a result. Playing on a Thursday and a Sunday was exhausting for their squads, and often led to league losses as a result of tired players.

Everton spent the first half of the season (whilst they were playing in Europe) lurking around the bottom half of the table, yet as soon as they were eliminated from the competition their league form picked up drastically. Since their elimination, they’ve climbed the table rapidly and have unceremoniously dumped West Ham out of the top ten in the league table.

Spurs suffered similar – if not as extreme – frustrations in the Premier League. Of ten domestic games following their efforts in the UEFA Europa League, just four were wins for Spurs. They still stayed reasonably involved in the top half of the table and it can be argued that they did so owing to having a greater depth of squad and stronger substitute options than those of Everton.

West Ham, however, do not currently have the depth in squad to allow for players to play multiple games per week. We may have initially thought we had squad depth, but injuries to Diafra Sakho and Andy Carroll had a traumatic effect on our season, and similar injury problems decimated our centre-backs prior to Reece Burke being something of a revelation. I also have it on good authority from a source that European games last for 90 minutes; something problematic for a Hammers side that currently can’t play past the 85th minute. We can’t handle the last ten minutes of most games; how are we going to play an extra 90 minutes per week when we aren’t even surviving the first 90 minutes?

Qualifying for Europe is great news; actually having to play in Europe is another story. We need to get further in the FA Cup than the Fifth Round and need to ensure that if we have to play a team in the Capital One Cup that they don’t put 9 goals past us over two legs whilst maintaining a consistent level of footballing ability in the Premier League. Once we’ve mastered that, I think we’ll be ready to push for Europe. Until then, we’ve got other priorities that need our full attention. I’ll be glad to qualify, but I also won’t lose any sleep if we don’t win the Europa League this year.

How do you feel about Europa League qualification? Will it be good for West Ham, or will it hurt us over the course of a season – or should we cross that bridge if we actually get to it? Let us know your thoughts below.

Share this article

3 comments
  • jonesy1878 says:

    Visiting Everton fan. You’ve missed off the worst aspect of the qualification via the ‘good christian football’ route…you get to start qualifiers in July.

    Yep the prize for the admirably virtuous game you’ve played this season is that your next one starts before your players have had a real summer break…let alone a full pre-season!. Hoping we finish our game at the weekend with one less player on the pitch than your lads….just to make sure of things!. Wont be surprised if your lads take to the pitch with knuckle dusters, chainsaws and a minigun though!.

  • Dave says:

    Most quality players want European football, if we do qualify it should help us recruit the better calibre of player we need to add to the squad. Also the possibility of silverware in our last season at Upton Park. From glass half full to one glass half empty.

  • Dave says:

    Not the topic I know, but just wanted to say we could beat Newcastle but we will set up with the prolific Carlton Cole and Kevin Nolan spearheading our attack! One outcome another loss to finish off the season nicely.

Comments are closed.