‘Missing top 4 would be a failure for Liverpool’ – West Ham supporter ahead of Sunday’s clash

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West Ham fan Sean Whetstone believes they can take all three points against Liverpool on Sunday, ruining the Reds’ Champions League hopes.

Liverpool make their first trip to the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon, and the pressure on Jurgen Klopp‘s side will be enormous.

The Reds manager knows that two wins out of two will secure Champions League football next season, but West Ham will provide the German’s side with a stern test.

They beat Tottenham 1-0 in their last outing, and they will be desperate to end a disappointing home campaign on a high.

Ahead of the game, we spoke to Sean (@westhamfootball) to get his thoughts on the two sides’ respective campaigns and how the weekend clash may pan out.

 

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 28, 2016: West Ham United's manager Slaven Bilic during the FA Premier League match against Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

How would you rate West Ham‘s season out of 10?

Before we beat Spurs last Friday, I would give our season a middle-of-the-road score of five out of 10.

After the win, however, I have bumped us up to a six, but we should have done much better.

A mixture of poor summer signings, bad tactics, fielding players out of position, the dreaded injury curse and our move to the London Stadium has meant we have suffered a disappointing season.

 

Would you keep hold of Slaven Bilic? Are you happy with the job he’s doing?

We should and will keep hold of Slaven Bilic next season.

Please don’t believe the paper talk that he has two games to save his job—it is rubbish. Our owners don’t sack managers and stick by them through thick and thin, generally.

Bilic has another year left on his three-year contract, but it is fair to say he won’t be offered an extension at this stage because the jury is still out.

He is a lovely man who is passionate about West Ham and football, but the long-term question remains: is that enough? Is he the man to take us to next level?

The West Ham fans are split on this question, but personally, I think we should go for a manager who can take us to the next level after next season. Whether a quality manager will come to us is another question.

I would have loved Rafa Benitez to have joined us before Real Madrid. He had agreed to join us verbally but Real came in at the last minute to snatch him away.

I hope Bilic proves me wrong next season and we finish in the top six—if so, I will eat my words and apologise.

 

LONDON, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 9, 2016: Liverpool's Brad Smith in action against West Ham United's Michail Antonio during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Who have been the Hammers’ three best players in 2016/17, and why?

Michail AntonioWest Ham‘s top scorer is a beast. He works so hard for the team and has had a great season, despite injury and being played out of position as a right-back at the beginning of the campaign.

He was our worthy Player of the Season at the players’ awards earlier this week.

Manuel Lanzini – They call him “the jewel” and his play and free-kicks have earned him praise and songs from the fans.

He is the second-highest goalscorer after Antonio with eight goals, and picked up the Players’ Player of the Season award earlier this week. He has two more games to pass Antonio’s nine-goal tally, starting with Liverpool.

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 29, 2017: West Ham United's James Collins in action against Stoke City during the FA Premier League match at the Bet365 Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The third player is difficult as Winston Reid and Pedro Obiang have both had good seasons, but I will still single out old James Collins, aka the Ginger Pele, as my third choice.

The no-nonsense, old-fashioned defender has saved us a number of times this season with his tackles and clearances, and his love of West Ham and his passion with the fans is there for all to see.

He picked up the well-deserved Best Individual Performance award, and is loved by team-mates and fans alike.

 

Are there any who have been particularly poor?

Where do I start?

The injury records of Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho have been poor, and we feel let down by both of them and think they are their own worst enemies.

Jonathan Calleri, Gokhan Tore and Simone Zaza were disappointing signings and did not show any promise, while January purchases Jose Fonte and Robert Snodgrass have yet to display their full potential.

The same applies to our record £20.5 million signing, Andre Ayew.

Former Liverpool right-back Alvaro Arbeloa was a waste of wages and has not featured since a training ground bust-up with Bilic. I could go on, but I think I will stop there.

 

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Monday, May 1, 2017: Liverpool's Emre Can celebrates scoring the first goal against Watford with team-mates and manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Premier League match at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

How do you assess Liverpool’s season currently? A success, failure or somewhere in between?

If you grab a Champions League place it should be considered a successful season—if not it is a failure.

Sorry to be so black-and-white about it, but I think it is as simple as that. Top four should be your minimum target every season, but a third-placed finish would be a good result for you.

 

Looking ahead to Sunday’s game, where do you think the key battles will take place? Any Reds you fear?

I am hoping the key battle will be in midfield, where we will stop and frustrate you from playing your game.

Our use of a back three has been very effective in recent games, and if we can play like we did against Spurs last week, we could nick a positive result against you.

We don’t fear any Reds, but we will wary of the likes of Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho, as we leak goals at the back.

 

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 11, 2016: Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum in action against West Ham United during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I need two predictions from you—how will the weekend clash pan out and where will both sides finish the season?

No offence, but we are hoping to spoil your third-place ambitions with a win. However, we will also take a draw.

I predict 0-0 or 1-0 to us, but if pushed, I will go for the cheeky 1-0 win. With £2 million per place in the Premier League prize pot, we can finish between ninth and 15th, with only three points separating the seven places.

Wins over you and Burnley should bag us ninth, so I will go for that. I think Man City will grab third, but you will hold on to fourth place and Champions League football, with Arsenal just missing out.

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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