Another game, another loss for the Hammers, and it’s the eighth in a row. It is not a good time to be at Upton Park. It may only be October, but there are far too many similarities between this season and the 2002/03 campaign that ended with Glenn Roeder’s firing, West Ham’s relegation, and a bargain basement sale of young English talent. Both teams had the ability (the 02/03 version featured Joe Cole, Jermain Defoe, Michael Carrick and David James, among others), but 02/03 ended up massively disappointing, and this team seems to be on a similar path.
In their first 9 games in 02/03, West Ham won 2, lost 5, and drew 2. In the 9 games so far this season, West Ham is 1-6-2.
In 02/03, West Ham lost in the 3rd round of the Worthington (now Carling) Cup to Division 2 (now League One) side Oldham Athletic. This season, they’ve now lost in the 3rd round of the Carling Cup to League One side Chesterfield. Incidentally, they beat Chesterfield on penalties in the 2nd round of the Worthington Cup before losing to Oldham in 2002.
In 02/03, the team was plagued by off-field trouble, and this season seems to be no different. Both times, it has centered on the manager. Glenn Roeder was under fire all season long, and he didn’t manage in the final month after a mild stroke sent him to hospital. Thankfully, there’s been no health scares so far this season, but the gaffer is again under fire, as Alan Pardew’s job has been rumored to be in jeopardy. The takeover rumors swirling around the club haven’t helped morale much either.
I was in London in 2003 when West Ham went down, and while I knew far less about the League then, I still knew enough to be saddended to see a club of that stature, with that history, be relegated. Seeing them reestablish themselves in the Premier League last season with fine form and a young English spine was heartening, and I sincerely hope all that hard work isn’t thrown away.
There were few surprises in the rest of the Carling Cup games. Leicester gave Aston Villa a scare, coming back from two goals down to send it to extra time, but Gabriel Agbonlahor gave Villa the win close to the end. Birmingham, despite disappointing in the Championship over the past few weeks, which gotten Steve Bruce in hot water (again), beat Sheffield United 4-2 in Sheffield. League Two Notts County also continued their good run, and upset Southampton 2-0.
The rest of the scores:
Everton 4-0 Luton
Leeds 1-3 Southend
Port Vale 0-0 Norwich (Vale win 3-2 on penalties)
Watford 2-1 Hull City
West Brom 0-2 Arsenal
Wycombe 2-2 Doncaster (Wycombe win 3-2 on penalties)