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After what Manchester City did to West Ham last season, the Irons could be forgiven for coming out in an allergic rash at the sight of the Premier League champions’ club badge.
But this Saturday, City should be welcomed to Upton Park with open arms.
For the benefit of those who were living under a rock or who have had therapy to try and remove the memory, City savaged West Ham 9-0 on aggregate in last season’s Capital One Cup semi-final.
It was horrifically and unnecessary brutal, after all, this was title contenders City – with Champions League ambitions. Did they really need to do that to a team like West Ham?
Sam Allardyce’s side were left battered, bruised and humiliated by the 6-0 drubbing at the Etihad and the 3-0 saunter at Upton Park.
But amazingly, it turned out to be a genuine case of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger as, having just about escaped with their lives, the full extent of West Ham’s limitations was made clear for all to see.
As a result, wheels were set in motion for the summer rebuilding process which has propelled the Irons to fourth in the table this season.
Of the starting XI from West Ham’s last game – a 3-1 win at Burnley – six were not at the club last season.
Of the eight players who have scored for the team this season, half are summer arrivals, and of the team so utterly destroyed 6-0 in that first leg in January, more than half are no longer at the club.
West Ham were mere roadkill in the path of City’s trophy-winning juggernaut that night, and its headlights exposed all their weaknesses to the whole world.
The scars of that experience, the same week as a televised FA Cup debacle at Nottingham Forest, may take a long time to leave the minds of West Ham fans completely, but like an addict reaching rock bottom, the road to recovery started that night in Manchester.
That is why West Ham should look forward to Saturday with a genuine sense of optimism.
Of course, it will be a reality check: of the eight Premier League games they have played so far, only one has been against a team in the Champions League, and their last two wins have been against the bottom two clubs.
But the past is history. The positive start to this season and resulting feel-good factor radiating from the team and touching even some of the most hard-bitten fans means that the edge-of-the-seat, reach-for-the-panic-button feeling which has become an all-too-common mindset recently will be absent on Saturday.
Defeat? A setback, but not the end of the world – look who it’s against. Victory, and we really can start to believe.
While it may feel a bit like thanking the school bully for encouraging you to learn self-defence, in a way, West Ham owe City for helping bring about this more positive attitude – both on the pitch and in the stands.