Cautious optimism: better days in the offing, July 2010

Normally one does not draw far-fetched conclusions from the pre-season friendly matches, but supporters are not necessarily rational creatures, and every victory for the Hammers counts.

I am pleased, for the first time in ages, and especially thrilled by the acquisition of two marvellous players, Frederic Piquionne and Pablo Barrera. The Mexican and the French new boys can be categorized as crowd-pleasers, with all the flair and the passion required from a West Ham United player.

Despite my traditional misgivings about Avram Grant he is an undoubtedly a very clever man, and seems to internalise not only the profuse praise from his numerous lackeys (especially here, in Israel) but also the differing points of view of well-meaning critics.

This fact augurs well for the future. We are not just yet another middle-sized club in London, but also part and parcel of English football at his best.

These days, when our beautiful game is flooded with sleaze, malicious gossip and innuendo (the ugly conduct of Fabio Capello, for instance, in the immediate aftermath of the fiasco in South-Africa) we want to prove, at least in our Upton Park haven, that we do stand for something important, beyond the lurid cynicism and the mad race after money and power.

I have never regarded Grant as an idealist, but he is indeed capable of translating the tiny details of his personal ambition into a broader view of his enormous new undertaking. A new hope that we are on our way to glory has emerged, the clouds of gloom and despair are gradually dispersing, and our Bobby Moore is turning, once again, from a forlorn memory into a vibrant presence.

We simply must have a very good season and somehow I am certain we shall.

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