Match Report

Michail, My Hero

Michail Antonio has to be the most tenacious player I have ever seen and probably the strongest. He is the embodiment of motivation and effort. He gives everything for the team. We can bring forward the West Ham Player of the Year award. He wins by a mile.

When I was young, I would award myself a day off from school. I would complain to my mother that I had picked up some kind of stomach bug. ‘Shall I call the doctor?’, my mother asked (in those days doctors made home visits). ‘No, I’ll see how I am later’. By ten o’clock I was tucking into a hearty breakfast.

Felipe Anderson reminds me of a rubber plant I once had. When I bought it, it was healthy with shiny leaves. My wife asked me why I bothered, because everything I owned wilted in my care, including her. Of course, she was right. I tried moving its position, but gradually the leaves started falling off.

I don’t blame Felipe. As another wet English winter sets in, he must be dreaming of Copacabana beach. Vinnie Jones ridiculed players who wear gloves, saying he would fancy playing against players who wear gloves. It’s an indication you are no happy with your environment.

With the absence of Anderson, our clockwork brain manager was forced into a change that 99% of fans had realised was a necessity several months ago. This manager , who believes in attacking football, week in week out, played a lone striker. Then, when nothing works, you drop him, because it is obvious it is his fault. Finally, we got to see what we suspected in the first few games, that Haller is good with his feet and that, with his combination with Antonio, we were unlucky to only have one goal after ninety minutes.
Fornals reminds me of watching a large block of ice melting. He is gradually putting it together. A little more self-belief and application and he may come good.

Then, after 79 minutes, our manager gifted Southampton the opportunity to come back at us by substituting Sanchez for Haller. I really think he just picks balls out of a hat to decide on substitutions. Finally, on 88 minutes , he got the message and broke a habit of a lifetime by bringing on Diop for Noble. Who would have thought that three at the back was the way to strengthen the defence, rather than a clapped out midfielder.

Well, we did scrape a win and kept a clean sheet. All of us are hoping we may now turn a corner. But out squad looks weak, thanks to the sterling efforts of Mario Husillos, who should definitely depart now, because we couldn’t trust any recommendation he may make. I have just watched The Irishman on Netflix, so I am getting ideas.

If David Martin is injured, then it’s Murphy’s Law. If it can happen, it will happen. You have got to admit, it will be entertaining, if Roberto has to play, who has earned the right to be the worst goalkeeper ever in the Premier League. No doubt, we shall now go panic buying in January and spend millions on a goalkeeper, who we shall only need for a couple of games.

David Gold has finally admitted that the London Stadium is not quite up to what he expected and he made a few promises that haven’t been fulfilled. This is in the same week that Jeremy Corbyn admits he may be partially to blame for the Labour disaster. At last, reality bites.

Match Report

The Perfect Storm

I do not need to comment on the game against Arsenal. To me, it was absolutely shocking. We are past the point of analysis and looking at the comments of West Ham fans, there is a consensus about our feelings towards the organisation of the club.

Most fans would be happy if Sullivan and Gold sold the club. Sullivan was looking to get past his agreement with the owners of the London Stadium, where he would have to share a percentage of any profit. By that time, he would have a club in a beautiful stadium, with record crowds, a team of outstanding players and a world class manager.
Instead, in each area I have described, the result has been horrendous. Sullivan wanted at least £600 million for the club. In the Sunday Times Rich List, the club is valued at £350 million, so quite a percentage of the wealth of Sullivan and Gold is made up of their share of West Ham.

What will they be able to sell the club for now with a problematical stadium that the club doesn’t own, players underforming in every area and a manager who will probably be gone by the time you read this article (I live in hope)? So, probably they would have difficulty getting £120 million. In fact, you would say, they have a pig in the poke.

Now, I’m coming to the main point of what I want to say. We regard Sullivan and Gold as two rich individuals who could afford to spend a little of their wealth on the club. In fact, they may have problems we don’t know about. Sullivan is deeply into property. As far as I can gather he owns, for example, the Russell and Bromley store in Oxford Street. I believe he tried to sell it for £55 million but I can’t see that the property was in fact sold. His company is probably heavily invested in other retail properties.

Trying to sell a retail property in the present retail environment is extremely challenging. M &G suspended their property fund last week. Investors are rushing to pull their money from property funds. The result will be a potential crash in the retail property market.

Gold has another challenging problem. His retail business, which largely comprises Ann Summers made a loss of £3.2 million last year. His is also invested in property.

So, this will have a knock on effect at West Ham. They are going to think twice about any cash outlays. They are probably short of cash. That’s why the club borrows money from a company called Retail Media, rather than the owners, who charge 7% interest and are registered in the Virgin Islands. The ownership of this company is opaque. They are going to think twice before shelling out cash to get rid of Pelegrinni.

So, it’s the perfect storm for Sullivan and Gold. The bought players like Fornals and Haller using loans and their value at the moment must be less than half what they paid. In addition, there is the nightmare before us of a drop to the Championship and the loss of most of the revenue. When Sullivan and Gold eat their toast in the morning, they probably think they could be toast in the near future.

Match Report

Oh, to be a Liverpool Fan

Oh, to be a Liverpool fan! Imagine going to a game week in ,week out and seeing your side not only win but score brilliant goals. I attended a game in 1965 at The Boleyn where Liverpool won 5-1. I don’t remember anything about the game, but I was sitting next to some smartly dressed Liverpool fans who displayed supreme confidence in their side and chatted away whilst their side went 4 -0 up at half time.

I compare this to myself today when I sit down to watch a game and have no confidence whatever and have major criticisms of the board, the manager, the ground and the players. But we, cockneys, are not cowards. We went through the Blitz and we know that after every test of character, there are sunny uplands awaiting us.

Winston Churchill must have supported West Ham, because he once said, “Without a measureless and perpetual uncertainty, the drama of human life would be destroyed.”

I’ve flicked through the WHTID match thread and wondered why no one picked up on the way Felipe Anderson came to life when for a few minutes at the end of the game, he was moved to centre mid field. He started to move the ball around and gave us a glimpse of what has been missing in our formation, which proved so ineffective – once again. I’m not imagining that, am I?

We all know by now, even the board, that we are dealing with a manager who is one dimensional, blind and overpaid. I get depressed when I start realising we are going to be stuck with Pellegrini for the next two years, almost.

It’s never going to happen, is it, that we bring in Diop and put three at the back to close the gaps and defend set pieces? Then, the full backs can really get up the field. Fredericks has been clocked as the fourth fastest player in the Premier League. Why does he not have the confidence to use this ability?

And we could do a lot worse than try Masuaku in midfield and give Noble a rest.

I keep getting visions of Goya’s painting The 3rd of May 1808. I keep picturing Mario Husillos as the main figure. We are paying the guy around £2 million and he has brought us Haller for £45 million, Fornals for £25 million and Ajeti for £8 million. In addition, we are paying through the nose for Sanchez and Wilshere. Did I forget to mention Roberto?

There follows my positive comments about the game against Wolves:



Match Report

Eating One's Hat

I had serious digestive problems on Saturday evening after I began to eat my hat following the Chelsea game.

I had sat down to watch the game with zero expectations. There was no way we were going to beat a young Chelsea side invigorated by Frank Lambard. I went into a zombie state to try to prevent the psychological trauma which follows a West Ham defeat.

As the game progressed, I thought I had entered an alternate universe. There was no way in the world that a side could turn around its performance in a week. Then came the beautiful goal and I was so dazed, I couldn’t perform my usual routine of jumping up and down and then running round the room. I had been rendered impotent by the recent performances and my only physical reaction was for my mouth to drop open.

It is impossible to analyse what has happened. It may have been the change of goalkeeper. You could see after the game how much respect the players have for David Martin. Perhaps they had decided they would give a little extra for him. Or it may have been the inspiration brought to the game by Antonio, who shows maximum effort and commitment. I am sure he spent the rest of the weekend in bed recovering.

It would be churlish to make any criticisms at all. However, there are a few points to make. Felipe Anderson is badly out of form and seems to be suffering from a lack of confidence. Pablo Fornals is making progress, but still not up to the expectations we had for him. And I believe Declan Rice is back to his top form.

We have still got to realise that Haller is used to playing a system with two up front and that is the way we have to play if we are to get him up ton standard.

Also, when Masuaku came on, he played in mid field and I believe we should try this more often

So, Pellegrini has been given the kiss if life and should survive to the end of the season.

One amusing note was that my grandson emailed me, before the game, to say that he blamed the owners, who had made their fortune by bribing women. That is a great insight from a ten year old. That’s what pornography is about – bribing young women to perform acts you would be ashamed for your daughter or sister to perform.

The Wolves game is on Amazon Prime, so that will save having to watch the pizza of death, when trying to stream a game.

Match Report

Clapped Out

When I was a teenager, my friends and I would buy a clapped out car for £50 or £100 . There was no MOT in those does and so, we would be running about in cars with poor brakes, tyres, clutches etc. But at least it served its purpose – a girlmobile.

What we are looking at today is a clapped out football club with no purpose. Everything seems rotten from top to bottom. We fans know it and we’re actually preparing ourselves for Championship football – a real defeatist attitude.

Firstly, the stadium might be relatively new, but it is clapped out. It is an athletics stadium and no amount of purple, fake grass can disguise the fact that the fans are too far from the action to produce a good and intimidating atmosphere . A good atmosphere in a stadium can make the difference for both players and fans. We have the equivalent of an office block which has been turned into a cheap hotel.

The pair of pornographers who are our owners are definitely clap ped out. Sullivan lives in this fantasy world where he is going to sell the club for £600 million. That is his main motivation. He keeps taking shortcuts to reach his target and in recent years, there have been a string of poor decisions. The club gets £120 million a year for TV rights alone and all we get are adverts on the big screen advertising West Ham Christmas jumpers whilst Spurs are scoring. What business gets such largesse and then……. what’s a better phrase than spunks it up the wall (apologies to my grandson when he reads this)

Dame Lady Whatshername. £800,000 a year. Jesus!

The manager is undoubtedly clapped out and probably his staff too. Some of his statements , if you can understand what he is saying( and that might be the problem),are idiotic. Before the Spurs game, he said we need to be better in defence, but then, once again, there was no change in formation. Sometimes, his substitutions are bizarre. He is not the manager he once was. That is now obvious to every fan. He was lauded as the manager who would bring attacking football back to West Ham. It’s a shame most of the attacking is being done by the opposition. He needs to go.

Mario Husillos, the Director of football is clapped out. He’s an old pal of Pellegrini. When appointed Sullivan said that it was a hugely positive step for West Ham and confirmed that the new Director of Football will assume responsibility for all senior player recruitment. Well, it’s time for Mario to assume responsibility and get back to the pampas. Let’s go back to the old days and put Jack Sullivan in charge. It can’t be worse.

Many of the players we have are clapped out. Roberto has now been branded the worst goalkeeper in Premier League history (just saw on MOTD how he missed the ball on the first goal). Zabaletta is rapidly turning into an old nag. Wilshere was clapped out long before he got to West Ham. Carlos Sanchez is definitely due to be put out to pasture. Yarmalenko is off the pace and will never improve. Snodgrass pace is better suited to Championship football. Mark Noble has improved and full marks to him, but his days in the Premiership are numbered. We try and get too many players on the cheap. Cheap stadium and cheap players. No pace.

There is something about our clapped out club that affects the morale of our players. It doesn’t strike me as a coincidence that we had problems with Payet and Arnautovic under different managers. Now you can put Anderson in that category and soon Haller. I thought Rice has a terrific game against Spurs and at times it looked like him against the rest, but he’ll soon be off and who could blame him?

And I am definitely clapped out. My mind wandered in the second half. I didn’t really want to be where I was. I’ve lost that pit in the stomach feeling. Instead, I am a zombie watching the inevitable. It seems incredible that Spurs haven’t won away for ten months. Where do you go when you abandon all hope? It’s Inferno or Hell and that’s followed by Purgatory. Join me on my journey.

One positive note. Antonio showed what can be achieved if you bring effort and enthusiasm onto the pitch.

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