Monday, April 24, 2006



Honestly, West Ham United have proven beyond all doubt that you never really know what you're going to get from them. The Premiership newcomers, mostly fresh faced youngsters, have defeated no fewer than five top-division stalwart clubs on their course to Cardiff and the UEFA Cup and, if the league table is anything to go by, find themselves consistently among the top 10 league clubs in England.

They weathered a determined Middlesbrough attack for 45 minutes, then came out of the blocks in a manner few could have expected. They then scored a goal. Then they weathered another attack. On another day, Boro could have scored and have found themselves pitted against Liverpool in the final. But it wasn't another day.

It was the day that Alan Pardew's new-look West Ham came of age. It was Ron Greenwood's day. It was Johnny Lyall's day.

Something intangible kept the ball out of Shaka Hislop's net at Villa Park, and I won't belittle the moment to suggest what it was. But the tide has turned, the years of darkness seem to have gone, and West Ham have given themselves the chance to grasp at greatness.

West Ham have forever been blowing bubbles and only rarely seen them reach the sky. Now is the time to turn things around.

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