Opposition fan: West Ham to survive - at expense of Norwich City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
In the hot-seat ahead of a vital lunch-time game at Carrow Road on Saturday is West Ham fan, PHIL BANYARD
Question: West Ham are struggling to get themselves out of the relegation picture – did you expect this after the restart?
Answer: Absolutely – in fairness, it’s gone better than I’d expected with the win against Chelsea and a decent performance at Newcastle. Given that we were only out of the relegation zone on goal difference at the restart, to be three points clear now with a much better goal difference is a real bonus. Admittedly, it is largely because the other teams down there have been failing to pick up points.
Question: You’ve spent an awful lot of money – why hasn’t it been better for West Ham and what needs to change?
Answer: In two words – the owners. Yes, they have backed their managers financially, but they will never be forgiven by many for leaving Upton Park and that negativity will always create a poisonous atmosphere whenever things go wrong on the pitch. Obviously there’s no going back on the stadium, but at least if they were to leave it would create a new start. And there would be no more embarrassing outbursts from Karren Brady. As for the money spent, many of the best players signed seem to have a clause in their contract that after playing well for the first season they must get bored and want to leave (I give you Payet, Arnautovic and Felipe Anderson).
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Question: David Moyes seems to attract criticism from all quarters – time for a change or do you stick with him no matter what?
Answer: If we stay up he’ll stay, if we go down I think he’ll stay. It was a backwards step to return to him after an underwhelming first spell and I can’t see us being any more than a lower-mid table side under him. With the resources available to us we ought to be aiming much higher than that. But, like I say, I think we’re stuck with him.
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Question: You have Declan Rice coming through at a rapid pace – is there a real danger he will leave?
Answer: He is our best, most consistent and most committed player by a mile. The club should be moving heaven and earth to persuade him to stay if we stay up, but I fear they will let him go. I would be really saddened to lose him as it would be the equivalent of taking a wrecking ball to our team, but equally I couldn’t blame him if he wanted to play for one of the top clubs. Hopefully, we can keep him for one more season at least.
Question: Who else has impressed you this season?
Answer: Angelo Ogbonna has been our best defender (apart from when Rice is drafted into defence – he’s our best player there too). And Michail Antonio is always a threat. Apart from that, no one – the player of the year nominations won’t exactly be over-subscribed this year.
Question: If you could sign one Norwich player, who would it be, and why?
Answer: Given we are chronically weak in the full-back positions, I’d have to say Max Aarons or Jamal Lewis - although I don’t think either of them is anywhere near the finished article yet. As left-back is our main problem position I’d go for Lewis.
Question: Will you stay up?
Answer: I think so. We must win on Saturday and then probably beat either Watford or Villa. It would take Bournemouth or Villa to produce some very impressive results to send us down – I’m more confident of that not happening than I am of West Ham picking up enough points to guarantee their own safety.
Question: You come to Carrow Road knowing a win would relegate City – so what’s your score prediction?
Answer: If it doesn’t happen on Saturday it’ll happen next week for Norwich, so they might as well get it over with and let us have the three points we desperately need. I’ll go for a repeat of the Hammers‘ 2-0 win at the London Stadium in August.