It hurt me much more in 2003 when West Ham United got relegated to Division 1 on a tally of 42 points, because I truly believed that we could have stayed up. We spent two seasons in the madness of the Championship (reaching the play off final on both occasions) before we returned back to the heights of the Premier League. This season, it was more inevitable that we was heading for relegation than it was eight years ago. The spirit was removed from the team and replaced with the seldom exterior that we saw so many times on Avram Grants bulldog-like face. So now that we are certain to finish bottom; what will happen next season?
Our first problem to think about is the management. We need a coach who pumps enthusiasm into the players, rather than someone who stands there and expects his team to be motivated by his presence. I think it is unlikely that we will get Martin O'Neill, so the next best option is Chris Hughton. He knows how to turn a relegated team into Championship winners, as he proved with Newcastle in the 2009/2010, so he will know what is needed to give our players that winning mentality. I also wouldn't mind having Di Canio as his number two, due to the passion that he will bring to the club, but that probably won't happen.
Secondly; the players. We have been warned of a massive exodus from Upton Park in the coming months and the first one at the front of the line to escape East London will be Scott Parker. The PFA Players Player Of The Year and the three time in-a-row West Ham Player Of The Year deserves so much more than Championship football and I'm sure that a few Premier League managers will be happy to give him a place in their squad. He will be closely followed by the England internationals Robert Green, Matthew Upson and Carlton Cole, who I imagine will have ambitions to be wearing the Three Lions shirt again. On their way out aswell will be Gabbidon, Jacobsen and Dyer (all out of contract and unlikely to resign, especially Dyer, due to his enormous wage bill). Aswell as this, Hitzlsperger, Ba and Piquionne will be on search for better clubs, whilst Da Costa will probably be off after his dealings with the court. The two players who I'm not sure about are James Tomkins and Mark Noble, both of them are promising youngsters at a Premier League standard, but their loyalty may see them stay at the club.
Finally, we must think about our financial difficulties. I am one of the many West Ham fans who believe moving to the Olympic Stadium is an idiotic idea, yet the chairmen still want the move to continue, despite stating that we are one of the most financially unstable clubs in the country (makes sense doesn't it?). There is talk of getting a £40-60 million injection of money from Gold & Sullivan in order to keep the club afloat, whilst the selling of players will help us scrap a bit of cash. I have no idea what kind of transfer funds we will get for next season, but I assume that these funds won't be huge.
I'm looking forward to see how the next few months will plan out for West Ham United. I think that we have enough depth in the squad to at least make it into the play offs (due to the amount of young and experienced talent we have at our disposal). But you can never be sure in this crazy game of football...
Possible Championship winning line-up? (4-3-3): Stech, Faubert, Spence, Tomkins, Ilunga, Collison, Noble, Spector, Barrera, Sears, Stanislas.