Match Report

Has West Ham Expired?

Forest fires are a natural event. They help to clear out or the deadwood, allowing new trees to flourish. West Ham are going down this season – that is my prediction. And it may be a good thing and the only answer. Our move to the London Stadium has turned out to be a disaster and even the first game there against Juventus exposed our problems which have dogged us since. Going down would allow us to clear out the deadwood and have a rebirth.

But, the first question which needs to be answered. Is, as some people think, West Ham actually dead , extinct, is no more, has passed on, gone to meet its maker, stiff as a board, resting in peace , pushing up daisies, kicked the bucket, shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible? This is an ex-club.(Can’t remember where I got all this from)

In the imagination, one retains a Dickensian dream of matchday. The cockney leaving the warmth of his coal fire to go over the road to watch his team. Some walked to Nathans to partake in an eel pie or having a few pints in the Boleyn Tavern prior to watching the game and having a good punch up or banging on the windows of the opposition coach. Walking past street vendors , touts , police horses and steaming horse manure.

Then watching our team of all white boys until 1968, when Clyde Best appeared. Who would have thought black people could play football? And we knew that foreign players were tricky, but all we saw of them was Bert Trautmann, a sort of Kraut.

I can lay claim to my West Ham heritage. I was born in Plaistow hospital and lived on a road off of Green Street. My grandfather attended the cup final of 1923. When I was a boy, I walked up Green Street with our cleaning lady’s husband (my Dad wasn’t interested in football). I watched my three heroes in action – all local boys, bearing in mind West Ham was in Essex in those days.

Most games I attend now are with my ten year old grandson. Now, the question I ask myself is whether he is less attached to the club than I was, bearing in mind some consider it a stiff parrot. In actual fact, he can be described as a West Ham nutcase or perhaps acorn. My son’s dream for him is to make him as enthusiastic for history or geography and the plethora of subjects waiting to be studied. Instead, he is a walking encyclopedia as far as football in concerned. If he is not watching football, he is playing it or FIFA 19.

Many clubs rebuild or move to new stadiums. In the USA, where a club is a franchise, some clubs have even moved cities. The area around the Boleyn Stadium and Newham itself have changed dranmatically. Shops such as Nathans Pie & Mash would have closed anyway, due to landlords raising rents and unaffordable rates.

From the moment, the UK won the right to stage the Olympics in 2012, the fate of West Ham was sealed. This should have been obvious to everybody who was involved in the construction of the London Stadium. Unfortunately, people such as Sebastian Coe were deaf to the calls to design the stadium so that it was adaptable to football. Instead £486 million was laid out on the original construction and then a further, disgusting £274 million on renovations.

The stadium itself is a concrete bowl and the lump of twisted metal which stands beside it, which is apparently a work of art, sums up the West Ham story.

But to say we are dead is totally incorrect. There are many negatives. We have owners who have a past which is shaming and do not engender loyalty. We have a manager who patently is too old for the job and has run out of ideas. We have a stadium where the atmosphere is deficient. We have players who are carpetbaggers, more committed to money than effort. They are unable to give that final 10% which makes all the difference.

But like the clearing in a forest created by a fire, we can rebuild and look forward to a better future. In life, patience is a virtue. A tree grows slowly, but we have tried to circumvent natural growth by lashing out money on sub-standard players and managers, not learning lessons, but making the same mistakes time and time again.

Match Report

A new regime - mine

“O, woe is me T’ have seen what I have seen, see what I see!” This no doubt is what Shakespeare would have said after watching the game against Newcastle. And David Sullivan was spotted in a pub on Sunday saying, ‘Who will rid me of this clueless manager’.

I will be seventy next week. Even though one can be in perfect health, I can tell you that a realisation dawns on you that you are not quite as motivated as you once were and that you realise your ideas are beginning to be out of date. Pellegrini persist with the same system he has used for years. There is very little variation. It’s as if he is unable to put his brain in gear. He’s an old banger coming to the end of his useful life as a manager.

Mark Noble says that Pellegrini exudes an air of calmness. No wonder. If I was on £10 million a year and knew it made no difference if I got sacked, because this was my last job, I would be calm. Calmness is not what is required in the current situation.

I suggest Pellegrini take a leaf out of the rugby coaches’ book. They watch the game from the stands so that can get an overall view of the game. I am sure that one’s view if distorted if one stands on the sidelines at the same level as the players.

Let’s start with our bad luck. It was unfortunate we lost Fabulanski. Roberto is what he is – a reserve goalkeeper, desperately short of game time. We can’t blame him for the loss, as Newcastle could have had five in the first half. But he was definitely at fault for two goals and we know that a safe pair of hands gives an air of confidence to the players in front of him.

Last night I dreamt that David Sullivan contacted me and asked me to take over. First of all, I would most definitely concentrate of defence and play Balbuena, Diop and Ogbonna as the back three. This would allow our full backs to becoming really attacking. I would put Zabaleta out to pasture( you could see on Saturday he completely ran out of ideas when going forward) and ask Fredericks to start using his speed to get to the byline and cross the ball to Haller, who is getting no service at all.

I would build a statue for Mark Noble and replace him by playing Lanzini in a deeper roll. With a back three, he would have the confidence to roam forwards.
I would let Snodgrass go and canvass for Scottish Independence. He’s made a good effort this season but is too slow for the Premier League. And I would bring back Grady Diangana from West Brom.

I have never understood why Masuaku is a full back. He is a wasted talent. I would move him to midfield and encourage him to using his skills on the ball to penetrate defences.
Then, I would call the players in one by one and tell them their performance is no effing good. I would want them to be first of the ball from the first whistle. I would end the regime of calmness and institute one of terror, like an effective king. Let’s face it, we sometimes forget footballers are young men and young men respect discipline. You can’t run an army by exuding an air of calmness. Was Napoleon ever calm?

Then, I would wake up and realise none of this is going to happen. I have just consulted my crystal ball. We’re going to drop like a stone and spend the rest of the season fighting to avoid relegation. OK, we’re not the only one in trouble – Everton, Norwich, Watford and Southampton also have problems to name a few, but I want to leave the London Stadium knowing our players tried, even though they lost.

Match Report

Calmness is just what we don't need

In the Shining, Jack Nicholson’s character types over and over again ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. The horror that has been West Ham in the last two games has made me write ‘ We’ve seen it all before’.

At least, we had the England rugby victory and the Brexit fiasco to take our minds off what happened at Everton. During the game, Chris Sutton, one of the BT commentators was making so many negative comments about West Ham that I almost felt like replaying the game to write down all his comments.

Prior to the game, there was an interview with Mark Noble by Joe Cole and Mark praised Pellegrini for bringing a sense of calmness to the club and ‘ he let’s you go out and play and enjoy yourself’ .This may highlight a problem. I wonder if Sir Alex Ferguson can be described as a great manager because he brought a sense of calm to Manchester United. I wonder if I would have done well at school if they had just allowed me to enjoy myself. Perhaps, I should start smoking cannabis , so my calmness will improve every aspect of my life.

I bought a corn on the cob last week, but when I stripped off the outer leaves, I found there wasn’t much corn on the cob. I am afraid to say it, but that’s what we have bought in Pablo Fornals. It is obvious that he is way below Premier League standard. A pig in a poke would have been better value.

I received an email from my ten year old grandson after the game and I propose we should make him the manager:

Did you see how abysmal we were yesterday? I mean , we couldn’t even string a pass together .
What I am also questioning is the managers choice of a player -Fornals
Why?? Yarmolenko, during the international break , scored a brace vs Portugal and 1 against Lithuania. Fornals looks really shaky when he has the ball and he also can hardly shoot. Finally, that Roberto dude is utter rubbish letting a 5 foot 5 brazilian score ,on the bye line, through his arm ?? Please write an article before I go to Pelligrini’s house and question his sense!!!

I wouldn’t agree with the comments about Roberto. He is doing a good job as a replacement goalkeeper, but we saw the difference between his good performance and the brilliance of Fabianski. But all of us knew it was coming and it won’t be the last time.

I can’t understand why Masuaku is a full back. I thought the first priority of a full back was the ability to defend, but I don’t think anyone would rate his qualities in this department. However, he is a good player and I believe he would make a better job if he was brought into midfield. It’s a shame Cresswell picked up a minor injury when he was coming back to his best form.

Midfield was definitely the area where we totally lost it at Everton. We have got to recognise that Mark Noble’s time as a player is coming to the end. Personally, I believe that Jack Wilshere can bring the quality and creativity we are missing. Perhaps, if we had started with Yarmolenko, we may not have had such a bad start, where we let Everton overrun us. And we can forgive Anderson, if he appeared to be out of salts.

In a sense , our season is already over. The manager’s attitude to cups was so relaxing, we were knocked out at an early stage. We haven’t got what it takes to be in the top six and it’s unlikely we will be relegated. So, perhaps we should just relax like Pellegrini and enjoy the times when West Ham can get their act together. Just a thought, I would be very relaxed if I was earning £10 million a year.

Match Report

Dealing with Disappointment

If you want to learn how to deal with disappointment, then become a West Ham fan. I went to the game against Crystal Palace full of enthusiasm. I left feeling like a sucker, having been drawn in to believe that this season is going to be quite different to any other.

So, how do we deal with disappointment? Firstly, we need to put things in perspective. Many sporting events are decided on the narrowest of margins. A four hour tennis match can end on a single deciding point. A three day golf tournament decided on a single putt. England won the cricket world cup on an incorrect decision by the umpires awarding England six overthrows instead of five. A football hitting an arm because a player got himself in the wrong position. A player judged onside by VAR by a couple of centimetres.

Let’s be constructive and positive. Firstly, we need to congratulate Roberto. We held our breathe every time he touched the ball, but he came through unscathed. He must have been under enormous pressure and perhaps he will settle in quite well in the future. Of the other players, none played badly. Perhaps, Anderson and Lanzini weren’t at their best, but Haller was sharp, the two full backs were pretty good and Rice was solid.

Secondly, try to concentrate on something positive. I went to the game with my eldest son and my grandson and afterwards, we went to a Toby Carvery and it was great to share disappointment with three generations of the family. At the Toby Carvery, you can rely on the meat and vegetables being consistent whichever and whenever you visit a branch. Quite a contrast to the West Ham team. By the way, it would take an average employee at Toby Carvery three years to earn what each West Ham player earn this week . This might be grounds for marching on the Bastille again.

Others would cheer themselves up by reflecting on what is happening to Spurs, where there is a total collapse of confidence. Or Manchester United. Even Manchester City had a hiccup this weekend.

This kind of disappointment is totally beyond our control. We may shout from our seats or even write articles, but you have absolutely no control over events. So, why beat yourself up when a match goes bad?

Then we have hope and that’s how you become a sucker. We are already hoping that we will beat Everton, whose fans are suffering disappointment in spades,their manager hanging on by a thread.

And disappointment doesn’t just affect the fans. There is an article in the latest Sunday Times about Alan Sugar. He rates his biggest disappointment in life to the ten year period he owned Spurs. ‘ My decade as chairman wasn’t a great period for me and my family: it made me a bit of a miserable sod and wary of journalists. I often think that instead of spending 10 years worrying about Carlos Kickaball on the pitch and getting criticised by the fans, I could have done something more lucrative ‘

And our own pornographer owners have suffered exactly the same experience but they keep on going, watching matches behind a glass screen.

So, I have considered taking up knitting or collecting stamps, but I think I shall remain in hope taking the bitter blows of disappointment. COYI.

Match Report

Streaming Football

I have a personality which thrives on adversity. I’ll give you an example. When I gamble, I don’t get much pleasure from winning, but when I’m losing, my body starts producing endorphins and adrenaline and I am totally immersed in the moment. That’s why I don’t gamble much.

So, when it comes to writing about West Ham, it’s much easier to produce articles when things are going wrong. The ground is hopeless. The owners are only out for a profit. The manager hasn’t a clue. The trainers have got it all wrong. The players are not motivated. The formation is wrong. The hots dogs are too expensive.

So, as I look at the league table and see we are fourth, I have to take back all my previous criticisms. Our first goal at Bournemouth sums it all up. A great cross by Anderson, wonderful control by Haller and a great finish by Yarmalenko. We have bought some great players, although just when we get players back from injury, disaster strikes and we have lost Fabulanski for three months.

So, as my addictive personality clicked in on Saturday, I started to search for a stream, having logged into a VPN and chosen my location as Bulgaria. This has become more difficult lately, as the Premier League have obtained a blocking order which internet providers have to comply with. It’s funny how they make watching illegal streaming of football difficult, but it is easy to watch a terrorist beheading somebody.
It is not illegal to watch a stream. The Court of the European Union has ruled that watching copyrighted content online is not illegal, although running a site is. Often the stream you are trying to watch doesn’t appear until a quarter of an hour before the game. But I managed to find two streams, one with a better picture and one with a poorer picture with sound. I tried playing both at once, watching the one with the better stream and listening to the commentary, but they were out of sync. So, I was getting the commentary a couple of seconds after the action, so I switched off the sound. I tried to cast the picture to my TV, but there was a deterioration in quality. I tried to see if I got better quality on my phone, then my tablet.

The problem was, I was so into the tech side of things, I wasn’t concentrating, so, although I watched our first goal, I had an completely neutral reaction. I thought this was strange at the time, as normally, I would shout out loud and go and hug the wife (you know do something out of the ordinary). It was as if, I had put myself into a zombie state.

That reminds me of the time we were playing Preston North End in the FA cup final in 1964, which I was watching in black and white. When we scored, I hugged my mother with the result that she suffered two broken ribs. She didn’t let me forget that for the next fifty years.

Anyway, watching football on a computer stream is a most unsatisfactory experience. I am beginning to think that listening to a radio broadcast is more exciting.

So, let me sum up the positives. Cresswell is definitely coming back to his best. The Diop/Ogbonna combination is working well. Fredericks is a work in progress – he should have more confidence to use his speed. Noble’s improvement has been nothing short of remarkable. At last we have a first rate centre forward in Haller. Lanzini is going to be a major asset. Anderson, although not always on top form, is world class. Rice has managed to get himself back to his best form – we’re going to have great difficulty hanging on to him. Yarmalenko is a revelation.

The negatives are that we have lost Fabulasnki and Antonio for the time being. The jury is still out on Fornals. And the game at Oxford demonstrated that the depth of our squad is waifer thin.

So, the moral of this tale is don’t try and watch football and hug someone at the same time.

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