West Ham defender Pablo Zabaleta believes this West Ham team are NOT too good to go down.
The club are struggling in the Premier League this season and sit bottom of the table with zero points from four games.
It’s not like they don’t have the quality. During the summer a lot of money was spent on Felipe Anderson, while Jack Wilshere was also added to a team already containing Marko Arnautovic, Zabaleta and Javier Hernandez.
Fans will know the feeling all too well considering the quality of the side that went down in 2003. The 42 points accrued was a record for a relegated side.
“How we took that team into the Championship is beyond me,” Don Hutchison, who was part of the team, has previously said.
Everyone else wondered exactly the same. A glance at the squad list throws up a host of familiar names, including Michael Carrick, David James, Joe Cole, Ian Pearce, Jermain Defoe, Trevor Sinclair, Glen Johnson, Paolo Di Canio, Les Ferdinand, Freddie Kanoute and Steve Lomas.
“That team should have been easily competing for top six, top seven. To this day it’s still a mystery how we went down,” Hutchison added.
Two points from their opening six games was not the best start, but then a 3-2 win against Chelsea gave supporters hope. A 2-1 defeat to Birmingham followed, but preceded back-to-back wins against Sunderland and Fulham before everything went wrong.
Everton beat them 1-0 at Upton Park on 27 October and the Hammers didn’t win again until victory against Blackburn on 29 January.
With three matches of the season remaining, manager Glenn Roeder fell ill with a brain tumour – he made a full recovery – and club legend Trevor Brooking took over.
Kanoute scored late to beat Manchester City in Brooking’s first match and Di Canio scored in the 1-0 win against Chelsea, meaning everything was riding on the final day.
A 2-2 draw at Birmingham, though, meant the club were doomed as Sam Allardyce’s Bolton beat Middlesbrough 2-1 to preserve their Premier League status at the expense of this hugely talented squad.
This was the starting XI in the final game of the season against Birmingham: James, Repka, Dailly, Brevett, Johnson, Sinclair, Lomas, Cole, Defoe, Ferdinand, Kanoute.
“Going down with the record points total was ridiculous – the team we had, how we took West Ham into the Championship at that time was ludicrous.”