After a brilliant start to the season many West Ham fans dared to dream that reaching Europe was possible.
Bit since January, results have seen the Hammers slip in the Premier League out of European contention to 9th in the table. It seemed like a chance at a European place was going to be just out of their reach but now it seems there could be a lifeline – the Fair Play League. West Ham are currently at the top of the league table which awards points for positive play, respect in the game, behaviour of officials and fans and discipline on the pitch. Three places are given to the countries with the best record and England, Ireland and Holland are currently at the top. So, could Big Sam still be in with a chance of a miracle?
Liverpool currently sit in second only one point behind West Ham, with Burnley in third only two points behind so the race for the top is still very tight but it means that where before West Ham thought they had lost out on a shot in Europe it can relight the fire for the remaining games of the season.
West Ham getting into Europe this way would be the first time an English team had got into the Europe League in this was since 2012 when Fulham were awarded a place. There is a downside to getting into the Europe League this way- the qualifying would start on the 2nd July meaning players would only have one month off before training would re-start.
With this knowledge, Big Sam’s men need to use their win against Sunderland to put an end to the dismal form they were on after Christmas. Hopefully this is the news they need to push on and start winning again. The club’s owners have made it very clear, that despite having only re-joined the Premier League in 2012, they want to make an impact this season and that getting into Europe was not a foolish dream but a realistic chance.
West Ham already set for their best finish in years in the Premier League and now that Europe has become a realistic dream again maybe fans will calm down about sacking Sam Allardyce (although I am not completely sure whether fans will ever truly accept Big Sam- there is just something they don’t like about him!).
Getting a shot at Europe through the Fair League table may seem like a great thing but it will mean a lot of hard work for all those involved. While at first fans may be excited about the opportunity it might have a negative impact on next season. Playing in Europe- especially in the qualifying stages of the Europa League- brings a lot more games and a lot more pressure. Still if you want to grow as a club, you have to start somewhere and it looks like the pressure is already building for Big Sam and the Hammers.