The final whistle blows, and the game is over. West Ham and Wigan having battled it out for 90 minuets, just 90 minuets to save either club from the black hole of relegation. The match ends in defeat for West Ham, leaving Avram Grant a picture of frustration above.
the whistle bringings to an end a campaign rich with drama, from the comeback against West Brom to the victory over Manchester United, but also defeats at home at the hands of Birmingham and Bolton.
The ‘Hammers’ fate is now sealed, relegation and all the uncertainty and despair that accompanies it.
Not even a timely cash injection by local boys made good, Gold and Sullivan could save the club from slipping out of the top tier of English football. As the club will lose the financial clout that the premier league provides, a range of first team regulars may need to be sold, some to cut the enormous wage bill, but most by their own will.
West Ham fans are now faced with a series of difficult realisations, there squad looks set to be decimated with many key players leaving.
The club is home to several England internationalists, Scott Parker, Carlton Cole, Matthew Upson and Robert Green. Will these players jeopardize their international future by dropping out of arguabley the worlds best league ?
And even more worryingly can the club afford to keep them if they want to stay?
Removing theses players would hit the club where it hurts most- on the field. Taking out Premiership quality and not replacing it will make the forthcoming push for promotion all the more difficult and could leave the club stranded in the football league.
On top of these players possibly leaving many others may be shown the door, Robbie Keane and Wayne Bridge for example will surely return to their parent clubs, leaving the hammers without a goal scorer and a classy full back. Others such as Kieron Dyer and Luis Boa Morte, both injury prone and on huge wages may need to be let go, new signings Thomas Hitzlsperger and Freddie Piquionne may also go in search of a high level of football.
Some would say that is these player who have got the club where it is today- relegated. However I believe miss management in the dressing room and in the boardroom have certainly played their part, along with a good dose of bad luck. The current squad undoubtedly is good enough for the Premier league, the proof of this could ironically be the number of players who remain in the Premiership with other clubs.
It is likely with the appointment of a new manager immanent the club will find itself rejuvenated, the squad injected with much need confidence of a fresh start. This could lead to a positive atmosphere within the club once more, something which was evidently missing during this season.
The club finds itself at a crossroads with two paths. One leads to promotion back to the premier league with much of the same team as before and a new manager. The other to wholesale changes in playing staff, with a new squad and new manager and the championship for a few years to come.
The real question is how many of the current players are prepared to walk down the first road which will take a year out of their careers at the top level. Could we see many taking the easy option and moving on, not tidying up the mess that they helped create ?
Although pay cuts will be necessary,the club can no longer afford to bankroll astronomical wages outwith the wealthy Premiership, how many will accept this harsh reality?
Hopefully the Londoners can keep hold of some of their talent and return to the Premiership at the first time of asking, it is a shame to see a club with such a rich history and a terrific fan base fall from grace.
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