I’ve heard a lot of things said about West Ham United over the years, many of them unprintable in a local family newspaper, but I still think my Grandad said it best: “With West Ham always expect the unexpected”.
Even those few of us still keeping faith with an increasingly beleaguered Sam Allardyce during January, couldn’t really foresee the success story of February.
Thirteen points out of a possible 15 and four straight wins have propelled the Hammers to the dizzying heights of tenth in the Premier League.
Confidence is now flowing and that sure sign the Deities of football are suddenly on your side – the offside goal that no official managed to see – has even made a first appearance of the spring.
And all this without Andy Carroll. These are heady times indeed.
In fact though, West Ham are still no more certain of top-tier football this month than they were certain of Championship football last month despite concerted attempts by some fans to convince us that the Hammers were already as good as relegated.
There’s still a bit to do before the club can start planning for next season.
Confidence is everything though and I doubt there are many fans who seriously believe the battle will go down to the last game or two anymore.
What’s caused this turnaround?
Well, if you’re looking for an insightful answer here, then you’ve come to the wrong place.
The transfer window signings have plumped up the squad, of course, and the injury list is certainly shorter. But, in reality there is not that much difference from the club that looked bereft of ideas and short on belief last autumn.
The return to form of captain Kevin Nolan has helped obviously, while the defence looks stronger with a settled and injury-free central partnership – who would have though Winston Reid would struggle to regain his place?
But perhaps the biggest praise should go to two unsung members of the squad.
The ever-dependable George McCartney is one of those players who never seems to do anything bar what he is paid handsomely to do.
Solid, no-nonsense and rarely found wanting, dear old George seems to have found his home at Upton Park.
Perhaps more surprisingly though is the work of a player I thought surplus to requirements in January.
Matthew Taylor’s defensive role in midfield has been unspectacular but equally solid.
Matty works himself into the ground every game, tackling when he can or just blocking and making a nuisance of himself when he can’t.
I’m not someone who can spend a lot of time pouring over statistics, but I bet a look at those two players’ stats over the past four weeks would be a revelation.
So well done to Allardyce and his men.
Unexpected? Of course – but as my Grandad could have told you, that has always been the way.