So here we are. The final game of the season is upon us and it’s not quite the end that we predicted way back in August, or even two months ago for that matter.
Automatic promotion is no longer in our hands. It hasn’t been since the 1-1 draw away to Bristol City. We are on our knees and praying for it to all be alright on the night (afternoon).
We all know the different ways that we can secure a miracle tomorrow so I won’t bore anyone with them. Nor will I ramble on about how it IS still possible for us to go up and that I can see Coventry causing an upset at St. Mary’s tomorrow.
I’ll only be labelled as “deluded” and told to “have a lie down and prepare for the play-offs”, which was what an unhappy reader commented under my last article.
I am not deluded and I am prepared for the play-0ffs, just as much as I expect (well, hope) the players are, too. But there is no hiding away from the fact that we are West Ham and there’s never a straight forward story with us. We have a history of defying all odds and claiming glory, which is why tomorrow should not be a complete right off to everyone.
We will, I’m sure, arrive at Upton Park tomorrow lunch time expecting to be leaving with a place in the play-offs. That’s fine. Just have a little faith, though. You never know what might happen.
Anyway, on to the game. It’s fully expected that Big Sam will name an unchanged side for the visit of Hull. It’s a hugely important game and the starting XI at Leicester showed enough promise and determination to win from behind that we can be sure they’ll give it their best shot at Upton Park.
The only change that we might expect to see is Nicky Maynard in for Carlton Cole. The No9 looked disinterested and lethargic again at the KP Stadium on Monday night and that’s not the sort of player Big Sam will want up front in a game of such importance. I, personally, would swap him for Sam Baldock. As I’ve said before, the little man always looks hungry for a goal and his pace will strike fear in to most defences in this division if given the chance.
Tactically, you can never tell what Big Sam will think is the right way to approach the game. 4-5-1? 4-4-2? 4-3-3? They’ve all worked for us at times over the season, but they’ve also failed as well. That’s something that Allardyce hasn’t quite nailed yet. He’s still unsure of what the right formation to use is in certain games. Let’s all hope he gets it correct tomorrow.
The last time we hosted Hull we beat them 3-0, and we’ve netted 10 goals in our last four meetings with them. A repeat of that scoreline could be crucial.
No matter what happens, though, I’m sure Upton Park will be rocking. As it will be in the home leg of the play-offs if it goes that far.
It’ll be one hell of ride on one hell of a roller-coaster. Let’s just hope that we’ll be the ones coming out smiling. If not, at least we’ll have another crack at it.