Reasons to believe

I don't know about you lot out there in the West Ham nation, but I am not really sure how to handle this current situation as an Irons fan.

I am used to praying that the big clubs make sure they win matches against the Premier League fodder that live in our world. I usually don't want any of our level of club getting points they are not expected to and giving us problems.

Now I am wondering if, say, Stoke can take a point off Manchester United, and how does that effect West Ham's chase for a place in Europe?

Believe me, this is a hard attitude to break, a total change of heart into a place West Ham fans do not normally find themselves. And at the back of my mind, there is always the fear that it could all go pear shaped.

The realists amongst us looks to Xmas week when we face Chelsea and Arsenal over three days. That could be the glass ceiling for us. But deep down there is now a belief that this is for real, a reason to believe, as Rod Stewart sang.

Now I am called a lot of things by my son and his young mates who accompany me to matches...pessimistic, born worrier, depressing, cynical, old. And that's just the polite stuff! But that is what comes with decades and decades of supporting West Ham, we are not programme for the sort of season we are having. Maybe I don't trust what I see.

I have loads Manchester City and Manchester United mates. It comes from the territory, I am afraid, of living where I do. I listen to their pub chat, the super confident attitude that of course they will win matches. They have never really understood my world, well maybe some older City fans do.

I recall a train journey back north one Sunday, after a late Saturday kick-off (do they realise how much those games cost out of town fans?) and sitting with an Arsenal fan on his way to Manchester City. Me and my lad spent a bit of time worrying about Danny Gabbidon's defending, our defence, and the usual on-going relegation fight.

The Gooner was a nice lad and not trying to be cocky, but he stopped us in full flow and said he didn't really understand the agonies we were going through because he had never experience a relegation battle in his life.

I hope that goes someway to explaining the confused state we find ourselves in. This is our best-ever Premier League start and our best since 1986, almost 30 years ago. The tough, hard fought win at West Brom this week, with 3,000 Hammers fans willing the side on, was just the latest in run of matches us old pessimist are having trouble getting our heads around. This is not the West Ham we know and love.

I have already had my Man City supporting elder son (sorry, he got away under the radar) telling me we are already safe from relegation. And he has a point, four more wins, maybe five, from 24 matches will see us safe, surely we can manage that. Sorry, that's my old West Ham head on there.

I recall David Sullivan saying pre-season that, after their investment in new players, that it would be good to be safe from relegation by the turn of the year so they could concentrate on a decent FA Cup run. The way it's going, he could soon be right!

The new head takes me to West Brom believing we can win. And I was amazed by the turn-out again with all our tickets sold. I can amble (I use that word literally) down the car park they call the M6 in my own time now I am retired. Those of you in the real world have to get to away night matches anyway you can. I am in awe of you.

People are beginning to believe something special, different to the usual relegation fight, is happening. I heard someone at Albion say, 'we will be ok when we get our passing game going.' Blimey, times are a' changing.

For twenty minutes we were dreadful, giving away possession, sloppy, slow to react. But then that passing game started and we poured all over Albion. It didn't last like that and the second period was a tough battle.

But one of the main reasons I now have a growing belief, was not so much the quality of our play, or not. It was the sheer effort, running, team spirit, desire and determination to get something from the match. It hasn't always been like that.

There is a firm structure about what we do, regardless of whether we make mistakes. There is a hunger for success I have not seen at this club for a very long time.

From high up at the back of the Hammers' sold-out section you could see the pattern of play from our midfield, chasing, encouraging, snuffing out the danger even though other parts of our game were not working so well. Nobody gave an inch. That's the difference to some of the stuff I have seen over the years.

Big Sam was without Mark Noble, Alex Song and Diafra Sakho and had to shuffle the squad and play two or three different systems in one match. He made a point afterwards of praising the effort levels from the two matches over four days, both won. Somehow he has statistics to prove that. He would.

When did we ever play two games in such a short spell, not be that brilliant, but still win them both? As another pal mentioned, this is nose bleed time.

Sam talked about the hunger driving his players. He later warned Mauro Zarate not to become a moaner, just get on with his job when required. We have enough depth and quality for him to be able to say that to any one. It will probably be Andy Carroll next when Sakho is fit.

There are reasons to believe and they are growing by the game. But having watched the stunning quality of Manchester City's goals at Sunderland this week, for example, we do not have the quality to cope with that - but we can work our legs off and do the job we are paid to do.

That's what will be needed in the games coming up, starting on Sunday against a clever Swansea, but more importantly against Chelsea, Arsenal, and then Liverpool and Swansea again in January. We have shown we can comeback from a tough defeat at Everton with two solid wins, that will happen again, and how we react will be crucial.

There is still a long way to go before we can start really talking about Europe. Our fans, tongue firmly in cheek, were chanting about winning the league, oh, and taking on Barcelona. And just to make sure everyone knew they were joking, out came the 'same old West Ham, taking the piss'song.

These could be special times for West Ham fans, maybe a season to remember and the foundations of a better future. We just need to believe.

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