Sunday, 12 April 2009
Barcelona v West Ham (Hotshot Speaks Out!)
A few seasons ago I watched West Ham beat Roma in a pre-season friendly and like many fans believed that our club had the potential to be world-beaters. Gianfranco Zola is no doubt world class, and he has done much to spruce up the current West Ham motley crew and have them playing the free flowing football that we Upton Park fans insist on, but is it enough?
Being in Barcelona while Barca were playing Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter final, I bought a ticket to the match. I have only ever been to Upton Park's 35,000 capacity stadium, and a few away matches in grounds not much bigger, so when being confronted with 90,000 chanting fans in a packed stadium it hit me like a sledgehammer in the gonads; it was a great experience - the atmosphere not the sledgehammer.
Barcelona passed the ball around the field fearlessly, with pinpoint accuracy, unbelievable imagination and absolute conviction - it was a master class in football. It was awesome to watch, and yet disheartening in that it highlighted the distance West Ham have to go if they really want to be among the best in Europe. There are echoes around the West Ham faithful, of the team in the near future fighting it out for one of the Champions League places on offer, the prize for finishing in 4th position in the English Premier League, yet even if they some how found the firepower to catapult themselves into this elite league, after watching Barcelona take Munich apart, making them look like an overweight and comical Sunday league team, beer bellies and all, what chance would West Ham have had in the Noucamp that evening? It would have been car crash TV!
I fear West Ham are possibly chasing an empty dream and need a reality check. Already we are punching above our weight, and, without real investment in a new stadium and at least 60 million on players, we will forever be stuck in Premier League mid table mediocrity, mere cannon fodder for the league’s top four.