Written by: Lee Howard

On reflection, Monday night was a good point.

We battled hard, kept a clean sheet for the 2nd game running and always looked dangerous on the break. It was never a second yellow card for Arthur and the fact that VAR cannot intervene with yellow card decisions is quite frankly, a joke.

With that being said, some fans couldn’t shake off the nagging feeling that we were going to lose. Now, a loss away from home in the Premier League is hardly the end of the world, especially away at Villa under the lights where they always play well, and especially not as a West Ham fan. The issue was that we were so confident going into the game. So confident in Anderson down the left linking up with Masuaku and finding Haller again and again. So confident in Rice dealing with Grealish and Diop and Ogbonna handling Wesley with ease, and beyond confident in Fabianski, who is by far the best keeper in recent years at West Ham.

So why, with all this growing confidence in us, backed up by two great wins, were some fans (including this writer) dead certain we were going to lose as soon as a ball was kicked?
How is it possible to be confident of a win and yet certain of a loss? It’s in that chasm of angst and uncertainty where us as West Ham fans take our seat. It’s where we roar with pride at home to United because we know we’re going to cause them trouble, and it’s also where we peek through our fingers at home to Birmingham in the FA Cup 3rd round. It’s something that is so uniquely “West Ham,” as Gary Neville mentioned on MNF, that “you suddenly start to expect a West Ham performance and they just don’t turn up”.

The “West Ham Way” which is so often fabled shouldn’t be known as a brand of exciting, flair-driven football. It should be beating Chelsea 2-0 and losing to Watford 3-0 the week later. That’s the West Ham way.

This is an issue that Pellegrini has noticed. He’s not come out and raved about how inconsistent we are as a club, but he has subtly been banging on about this “big club mentality” – and by that he means we should always be beating teams with a squad worse than ours – which quite frankly is about 11/12 teams in the league. It’s by this he should be judged. It is not attacking football that will take us to the next level; we attacked under Pardew, we also attacked under Billic and Zola. It is not being hard to beat that will take us to the next level either (Big Sam- *shudders*) but it’s being mentally strong enough to win games that we should win. For too long we have folded or not looked up to it against teams we should be decimating. How he does that is anybody’s guess. We as a club cannot sign 11 natural winners who are used to winning. These players go the very top, so we must develop and nurture this feeling of assurance amongst the players we have now. We should also point out that this season, we do look more consistent.

Hopefully we can continue to kick on and stay strong and attempt to shake off the feeling of dread anytime we kick a ball against a team in the lower half. The song itself we sing so gleefully states “and like my dreams, they fade and die” so lets hope, for once, we don’t fade and just see where we end up.