Match Report

Black Comedy

Apparently, Newham Council have designated the London Stadium as a giant morgue. West Ham fans have know this since 2016. A good source says that Karren Brady wants to charge £700 for each body, if the West Ham schedule is disrupted and the West Ham mascot package will be adapted to demonstrate this is real value for money.

The glass barriers in front of GSB will finally be put to good use, as it will help them to isolate themselves from the virus. We want them to survive this pandemic, don’t we?

OK, this is black humour, but we, West Ham fans, surely must appreciate this kind of comedy and also have a good dose of being able to laugh at ourselves.

Anyway, I spent Saturday morning in Waitrose trying to buy a cake for International Women’s Day, but the cake shelf was cleared , as people were panic buying in case they had to arrange a funeral. I went home and baked a cake instead and froze it, in case my wife needs it. I grabbed the last pack of toilet rolls and I have absolutely no idea why I did that.

I’m just over seventy, so I will be quarantined shortly and not allowed to attend a football match. This may be excellent for the recovery of my mental health, although I now have obsessive- compulsive disorder, as, thanks to Boris Johnson, I am washing my hands every ten minutes. My own solution is for the Government to manufacture Star Wars Storm Trooper outfits, as this would seem the best solution for avoiding the virus, together with tasers to prevent anyone from getting within two metres.

I didn’t expect us to beat Arsenal. I was at the Emirates in 2015, when we beat them and there was a little bit of hope hiding somewhere at the back of my brain.
But, you can’t win a game of football if you don’t score goals. With three up front and the team showing plenty of effort, we had our chances. Bowen, in particular, stood out and it looks as if he has a bright future. When he sees the goal, he strikes.

Unfortunately, that cannot be said of Haller, who seems to have a dreadful loss of confidence, or, even worse, does not have the ability. His positioning at times is awful. Just when Antonio had the opportunity to give him a tap in, he runs onto the arms of the goalkeeper. In other games, I’ve seen him pass instead of having a go himself. And he doesn’t seem to have learnt from Antoniou that he has the strength to get stuck into to defences. My advice to him would be to get stuck in.

Rice is getting back to his best and he definitely reminds me of Bobby Moore, with his ability to understand the game. When he moves forward, he looks dangerous and I’d like to see more of that.

What we missed badly was Anderson. There is no doubt he is out of form. But we need his ingenuity, even genius. I don’t think it can be helpful to his mentality by bringing him on in the eightieth minute. I think Moyes is trying to compete with Pellegrini as to who has the worst understanding of how to use substitutes.

Soucek is back, thank goodness and he should replace Noble, who hasn’t been up to the job for a long time. He spent a season passing the ball sideways or backwards. Then, there was an improvement, but, against Arsenal, he looked a bit like a headless chicken. Why did he stand right by the ball, when Cresswell was taking a free kick just outside the Arsenal area? It can’t be good for Cresswell’s concentration.

People believe Noble is a good captain, but, perhaps, he could have done more to prevent the departure of Payet and Arnautovic. And then there was the incident with the bust up with Ogbonna on the pitch, with the latter appearing to be quite a mild character.

We have fixtures against Watford, Burnley, Norwich and Aston Villa. David Moyes have brought the team on, so that all of us think there is potential and these fixtures, should see us home and dry together with a couple of points from other games.


Match Report

The London Stadium - A Giant Cock-Up

Cock-ups is an area where Britain can boast it leads the world. Many people think the term has a vulgar origin, because of the adjunct of the word cock and up, but, in fact, its origin is quite innocent. In Reginald Perrin, his brother-in-law was fond of the phrase, such as ,’There’s been a bit of a cock-up on the catering front.’

Examples of British cock-ups are the Charge of the Light Brigade, Sinclair C5, probably the whole of World War 1 Beagle 2 where we landed a probe on Mars which failed to communicate anything, Gordon Brown’s sale of gold and the NHS computer system.

Then, of course,nearer home, there is London Stadium/West Ham combo, where presently the Government (us) is losing £25 million a year and the club £25 million a year.

The West Ham cock up began many years ago when the club failed to take advantage of the development of docklands, which is surprising, since Len Cearns was a builder.His son, Martin, was responsible for the notorious Hammers Bond, more of a scam then a debenture. The Cearns family were devoid of creativity and ambition , even though West Ham has probably the greatest catchment area of supporters in the country ,as Cockneys spread their wings into Essex and other parts.

Move on to 2006, when the club were taken over by Björgólfur Guðmundsson for £75 million. At the beginning of 2008 his wealth was estimated at over £1.1 billion by Forbes magazine, but by the end of 2008 at £0. In 2009, he was declared bankrupt, owing £500 million.

Interestingly, he remarked ,on taking over the club, that he would be looking at a possible move to the Olympic Stadium. So, this consideration did not start with GSB. Unfortunately, GSB got sucked in and started making promises which look laughable now. They would have made the calculation that West Ham in the Olympic Stadium would be worth far more that it was at the Boleyn.

That’s where I don’t understand the protests against GSB. Where do the protesters think this will lead to? GSB got sucked into the situation, which is the essential element of a cock-up. They did not create it.

Some people have criticised Gold and Sullivan for being a couple of spivs. A spiv is someone who dresses smartly and earns a living by disreputable means.

That, of course, doesn’t apply to Sullivan and Gold, who have accumulated their wealth by the reputable means of pornography and the sale of dildos and certainly are not sharply dressed, if Sullivan’s Russian hat is anything to go by.

Whether they go the way of our friend, Björgólfur , is yet to be seen , but their entry in the Sunday Times rich list is based on their valuation of West Ham at £600 million. In addition, you just need a glance at the Ann Summers accounts to see that it is in deep doodoo. Add to that what has been happening to retail property values and you may have the ingredients for a perfect storm.

It is strange they didn’t take advantage of the property at the Boleyn Ground which was sold to Galliard Phoenix for £38, of which £15 million went as a contribution to the London Stadium and then on by them for £60 million. A tidy profit for sitting on your arse for two years.

The fans need to admit they have done well recently in the purchase of Bowden and Soucek, after the disastrous reign of Pellegrini and Husillios, who definitely took the club for a ride financially, but not up the Premier League.

The second strand of the cockup was the construction of the London Stadium. Now we know that anything the Government gets involved in normally end up in a giant cock-up. Having seen myself what happened to the Olympic site in Athens, after the games there, one could say that the London Olympics has brought regeneration to the local area. Even now, there is a considerable amount of development.

It would have been appropriate if the London Stadium, which was described at the time as a giant blancmange, would have been built in the form of a white elephant. It was obvious to anyone with half a brain, that its eventual use would be as a football stadium. The Government determined its use was to be as an athletics stadium. It was built, at a time of austerity, on a limited budget and there were retractable this and dismountable that, which I have never really understood.

In 2008, Lord Coe made a speech to the Conservative Party Conference in which he said that the building of Wembley Stadium was a giant cock-up from start to finish and the mistakes would not be repeated in the construction of the Olympic Stadium. Ha! Ha!

So, we have ended with a concrete monstrosity. Now, the logical thing to do, if you are losing £25 million a year, is to cut your losses and demolish the whole thing and leave the land idle. Of course, that is not going to happen. Instead, the owners of the stadium and GSB have engaged in a ritual dance, with neither of them able to work out which one is the praying mantis.

One thing is clear. GSB have been sold a pig in a poke and have given up home advantage. The only salvation will be if one of the world’s dictators comes along, acquires the stadium for a peppercorn and builds a new stadium and an athletics’ stadium in the Midlands.It would only cost £1 billion and they would only have to turn on the oil taps for a couple of days extra.


Match Report

Onwards and Upwards

I would like to make a tribute to our away fans, the most loyal and viciferous of our supporters. Game after away game, they can be heard above the home supporters urging our team on.

The fact that they, the heart of our club, staged a demonstration against GSB yesterday shows how widespread the dissatisfaction is with our board. Whatever happens, this will not change. Unfortunately, they will never be able to distance themselves from the promises they made when we moved to the London Stadium. I urge them to get rid of Brady and disassociate themselves from any decision making at the club. Get a true Director of Football or even Directors of Football.

By the way, I believe one lesson Husillos taught us is that we should only buy players who are British, or have at least two year’s experience in the football league. One of our main problems is we have a hotchpotch of players with all the associated problems of adapting to England and the Premier League. Probably for every good buy, such as Payet and Lanzini, we have five who don’t make the grade. Make your own list.

In my last post, I stated that David Moyes has brought new commitment and effort from the players. Some disagreed, but last night ,our players cannot be faulted on that score. If this continues, there is no way we shall be relagated, although I am afraid of the inconsistency we have shown in the past on that score.

I also questioned why Ngakia had disappeared.I believe there is now complete agreement that his place in the team should be made permanent.

Now, despite what I have already said about David Moyes, his tactics, team choice and substitutions seemed to be deteriorating and no better than Pellegrini. We should highlight particularly the treatment of Pablo Fornals. I must admit I thought he was a waste of space for his first few games, but then , just as he started improving game by game, he was dropped. This was a great mistake. Based on his performance against Liverpool, he needs to be reinstated.

We are all agreed it was a great performance against Liverpool and very heartening. However, we have in Snodgrass, Noble and perhaps Cresswell, players who lack the pace for the Premier League. If we are to move on, they need to be replaced. We keep hearing about what a great captain Noble is, but I keep thinking about the confrontation he had with Ogbonna on the pitch.

Antonio is not a striker/centre forward.He needs to play further back , so his ability as a bull in a china shop can be fully exploited. He is the one player who has always given his best. Anderson was out worst player, but he can be excused as he was coming back from injury. He reminded me of my snooker game. Everything is perfect in my head, but the execution is awful. But, we should have faith, because he is the one player who can reach the level of a genius, but his confidence to go for goal himself needs to be restored.

Tragically, Fabianski made an unexplainable error. He should donate a week’s wages to charity and undergo a flogging by Brady. That, at least , would give her something to do for her £20,000 per week. By the way, what does she do, apart from adding London to our logo?Answers on a postcard please.

What to do with Haller? I havent got a clue.But for his brief appearance, Bowen showed he has pace and got himself in a position to have his Roy of the Rovers moment. Perhaps , Haller should be sent on a sabbatical to Striker’s School. His positional sense seems to be lacking.

By the way, I thought Rice was sensational and showed his real class – the finest tribute to Bobby Moore. Soucek also showed commitment and it would be a shame to lose him for a few games.

So, onwards and upwards to the game against Southampton.


Talking Point

Time for a Counter Offensive

OK, I know watching the game against Man City was akin to a trip to the dentist or having the same emotions as a man about to get shot, but we have to remain confident. On Monday, against Liverpool, it will be another trip to the dentist.

We have 24 points and, if the last two seasons are anything to go by, we need 36 points to stay up. For those who struggle with arithmetic, that’s 12 points required. And it’s going to go down to the wire because three of our last four games are against Norwich(away), Watford(home) and finally Aston Villa(home). We have to achieve six points out of these.

We can draw with Newcastle (away) and Burnley(home) and one draw against Chelsea (home) Spurs(away), Arsenal(away), Wolves(home) and Man U(away).

That leaves the next home game against Southampton as being an absolutely vital win.

I am reading a book about Stalingrad at the moment. Victory finally came when the Russians launched a counter offensive against the Germans on their flanks, where there were weaker Romanian and Hungarian regiments and finally the surrounded the Nazis. This was the turning point of the war.

Now we have our turning point. We are not going to win by adopting the tactics employed against Man City. We were lucky to only concede two. And I wouldn’t like to see us end the season with a whimper. That means forget about leaving one man up front. It’s an impossible job. Get in our fresh blood. On that score, I can’t for the life of me understand why, after a brilliant performance, Ngakia has disappeared.

We must understand we are only going to stay up if we are prepared to attack. I liked the sight of Rice charging forward, which seemed to be the most positive point to come out of the Man City game. And we have to dispense with the players who lack pace and you know who I mean.

We can do it. But David Moyes needs to do the arithmetic and be bold. I do believe he has brought a new spirit and commitment to the team. But now he has to inject confidence that we have the talent to score goals.

Now, as far as Man City are concerned, it has been established they cheated the way to the top. It would be akin to David Gold arranging a sponsorship deal with Ann Summers for £100 million a year. One wonders how the same verdict can’t be made of many other clubs in Europe. Do you think Man City should be relegated to League 2?

We believe football is awash with money. But the Premier League are only the third highest in terms of income in the world. The National Football League in the USA earns £11.4 billion and Major League Baseball earns £9.2 billion.

That is why there has been speculation that the Premier League could go to a direct to consumer model rather than selling the TV rights to broadcasters. Look out for when they test it in one of their markets. This could lead to a doubling of income for each club and the first £1 million a week footballer. Wouldn’t that be a shame for Sullivan and Gold, if we ended up as a Championship side?

We’re crowdfunding to raise £5k to secure the future of WHTID. We’ve raised more than £3k so far but still have a way to go. You can find out more HERE and you can donate HERE.


Financial

The Result Of The Burnley Protest

There is presently an enormous amount of ill will amongst our fans against the owners of the club, even to the extent of an animosity because the West Ham we knew has been destroyed.

So, during this break, with our fortunes hanging in the balance, I believe we should take a look back at the protest after the Burnley game on 10th March 2018 and the effect this had on the owners, as this does demonstrate they listened to the fans and adopted a new approach. They listened and determined that they would give the fans what they wanted – a top manager and a more professional approach to the purchase of players.

Unfortunately, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see this all turned out to be calamitous. But, can this be laid at the doors of the owners? They did have an ambition to turn an average Premier League side into a side which could challenge for a place in Europe.

The latest results for the year ending 2019 are interesting, especially as they set of David Sullivan’s vision, in his words:

The Board made a decision at the beginning of 2018 to embark on an investment programme that would involve bringing in a world -class Manager, investing in better players and making significant investment in the Club’s infrastructure. As a result of this new strategy, we signed Manuel Pellegrini, who has the most successful track record as a Manager in the Club’s history. Furthermore , the Club invested £107.9m in transfer fees, grew the wage cost to £135.8m and invested £4m in facilities at Rush Green(first team squad) and Chadwell Heath (for the Academy).

Unfortunately, as we are aware, Pellegrini turned out to be somewhat clapped out and also, his recommendation to appoint Mario Husillos was disastrous. We shall never know how much blame should be apportioned to Husillos, or whether Sullivan was still interfering in the background and not allowing him to get on with his job.

Another criticism of the owners is that their main priority is to turn a profit on their investment. But this is naïve, because success on the pitch and the value of the club are joined together like Siamese Twins. The recent reports about West Ham being one of the richest clubs in the world are absurd. Forbes value the Club at £478m , but that assumes an operating income of £37m, whereas the Club are losing half a million pounds a week and this will accelerate if the Club drops into the Championship.

Obviously, the move to the London Stadium is high on the list of fans’ grievances. But, who was to know this would turn out to be a giant coffin as far as football is concerned? The Directors gloated in the fact that they got the better of the London Stadium owners, but it looks today as if they were the one’s who were mugged. The Club has to live with the fact that home advantage is a thing of the past. I defy anyone, however, who would have passed up the opportunity to move and let Spurs take over the stadium.

Another grievance of the fans is the position of Karren Brady. She has demonstrated at every opportunity a desire to get away from the traditions of the Club, from proposals to rename the Club Olympic West Ham to adding London to title. Her salary of £1.1 million is beyond belief (what does she do?) and someone should carry the can for the failures. However, there is a suspicion she is unsackable.

To sum up, the criticism of the Directors is overdone. They are, at least, British. They did come forward when the Club had serious financial difficulties. They have listened and major changes were made after the protests at the Burnley game. Unfortunately, these, together with the move to the London Stadium have been calamitous.


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