West Ham United have the chance of a lifetime and they must not bottle it like in 2015/16.
West Ham fans are born to hope for the best but expect the worst.
It is in the DNA of every Hammer. It is even the club’s song for goodness sake.
There is no getting away from the fact that for West Ham – particularly over the last 40 plus years, the dream usually does fade and die.
Parallels with Farewell Boleyn season are eerie
This season feels different. West Ham feel like a proper team. Their push for a Champions League spot is no flash in the pan. It is the result of consistently high level performances all season long.
The last time West Ham were in this position was five years ago in the emotional Farewell Boleyn season of 2015/16.
The similarities between the season West Ham United are currently enjoying and back in 2015/16 are bordering on eerie.
Right down to the fact they have the same number of points after 29 games – 49 – and occupied the same position in the table – fifth – as they did five years ago.
West Ham even drew topsy-turvy home games against Arsenal 3-3 around the same time in both campaigns.
West Ham must not bottle chance of a lifetime like they did in 2016
Hammers supporters fear the surrender against Arsenal last time out might have knocked the stuffing and belief out of David Moyes’s side.
But the weekend’s results went pretty well for West Ham with Chelsea losing 5-2 to West Brom, Leicester losing to Man City and Spurs failing to beat Newcastle.
It means West Ham will go fourth with a win over Wolves. Do that and the Hammers will occupy the last Champions League spot with eight games to go.
From there dream qualification for Europe’s top competition will be in West Ham’s hands.
It is a once in a lifetime opportunity. And next up is Wolves, a team with little but pride to play for over the last six weeks of the season.
Wolves have little but pride to play for, Hammers have everything to play for
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side won’t be embroiled in a relegation battle. And they are too far off the European spots with midtable the best they can hope for.
But West Ham and Moyes must make sure they do not bottle it like the team of 2015/16 did.
With West Ham well placed for a Champions League spot during the last nine games of that season, a series of draws and two shock defeats proved costly.
A 4-1 home hammering at the hands of Swansea and a 2-1 defeat away at Stoke saw the season end on a damp squib as West Ham missed out on the Champions League but just five points.
Slaven Bilic’s side had started to smell the big prize.
And a nervousness crept into West Ham’s approach and defending.
Moyes must avoid a similar fate. West Ham must take the same attitude, mentality and balance into every game and see where it leaves them next month.
In reality West Ham must win five or six of their last nine games. Three points against Wolves would be a great way to start.