Wednesday 20 November 2019

Priorities of mid-table Premier clubs off the wall

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic
West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic

Michael McCarthy

An annoyingly strong West Ham performance at the Emirates on Sunday ruined the premise for this piece. I had planned to write about the futility of getting purposely knocked out of the Europa League.

They were meant to get hammered. My point should have been proven. Then Arsenal went and had an Arsenal game. I'm sticking to my guns on this one, though.

Ultimately, the team now managed by Slaven Bilic will probably finish between eighth and 14th in the Premier League ­­­ ­- no matter what. They were entered in four competitions for the season and have thrown one of them away by putting out a second team last Thursday.

It's a trait in football I just can't get my head around. A couple of years ago, Paul Lambert put out a second team for Aston Villa in the FA Cup as they languished inescapably in mid-table. Last year, Villa's Cup run revitalised the whole club and was arguably the catalyst to staying up.

What do West Ham gain by dumping the Europa League? Surely they exist to win games and trophies? West Ham fans still idolise the 1980 FA Cup winning team. Finishing eighth will not inspire any folk songs.

Irish Independent

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