Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Seeing The Doughnut

Between the optimist and the pessimist, the difference is droll. The optimist sees the doughnut; the pessimist the hole!”

Sanguinity abounds today as Mark Noble predicts European qualification and international honours; Dean Ashton hopes for health, goals and a home win against Wigan; and West Ham fans buy season tickets in ever increasing numbers to watch it all unfold. We are, as Gramsci observed, pessimists because of intelligence, but optimists because of will...

Mark Noble was in ebullient mood today when outlining his ambitions for next season and beyond. The young midfielder, who yesterday dismissed rumours linking him with a move to Arsenal, said he was thinking only of playing for his club every week and earning full England honours. Speaking to BBC London, Noble announced: "Apart from my name on the team-sheet each week my main target is to get a call-up for the England team. Hopefully if that happens it would be great but I want to play every week for West Ham and that's my main target at the minute."

Buoyant Noble spoke of the lofty expectations he has of himself, in part fulled by the 10 appearances he has already clocked up for England at under-21 level. He said he hoped starting regularly for the Hammers would help him crack the full international set-up. "I played near on 30 games last season, 25 starts I think," he said. "I still want to improve and do better. I want to be more consistent, hopefully with age that comes. We know what we need to do this season and we know we've got to do better than we did last season. If we can get our better players fit and keep them fit it'll be a good season. We came 10th last year. I know we were there for a long while but we came there with a lot of players injured. I'm sure we can push on and get into those UEFA spots."

For Dean Ashton the ultimate ambition for the 2008/9 season is simple - "get plenty of goals". The injury-plagued striker finished the last campaign on a high with five goals in his last eight games, an England debut and a new long-term contract at the Boleyn Ground. "In terms of the new season my main aim is to stay fit, play more games than I did last season and get plenty of goals," he told whufc.com. "For the team it is mainly to have an injury-free season so we can show just how good this squad is."

The squad is gradually approaching full-strength and the hard work going on at Chadwell Heath is testament to the collective focus on the challenges that commence from 16 August. Ashton, though, is not thinking too far ahead. "To be honest I stopped looking at the fixtures after the season I broke my ankle," he declared. "That year I looked at it and picked out all the games I was particularly looking forward to then I got injured so just feel like it is bad luck to do that again. I don't know who we are playing past the first few games, but I do know we are at home for the first game which gives us a great opportunity to get off to a flying start."

Wigan Athletic are the first visitors and it was against that opposition in early February that Ashton last played alongside fellow injury victim Craig Bellamy. The chance of seeing the duo, who up to now have only been on the pitch together for 127 minutes in four league and cup games, is clearly an enticing prospect for the Hammers faithful. Despite gloomy forecasts the ticket office have reported a successful season ticket renewal process in excess of the numbers at this stage last year. With all renewals processed and those on the waiting list being dealt with this week, the ticket office has set Saturday 12 July for the general sale of any remaining season tickets. As was the case after last year's general sale, the club again expects demand to be high and the maximum number of 26,000 season tickets sold.

Of course, you can always rely on the cold-eyed intransigence of the bookmaker to see the hole in your sugary treat. Figures released today by Spreadex predict a 12th place finish and a season of numbing mediocrity awaits the Irons next term, a two place and three point drop on last season's performance.

No comments:


Copyright 2007 ID Media Inc, All Right Reserved. Crafted by Nurudin Jauhari