The Mike Ireson Column

Homemade Shortbread

Firstly I’d like to apologise to Iain. As a regular contributor to this site for the last couple of seasons I haven’t been pulling my weight recently. A combination of workload and domestic commitments has left me devoid of time to do several things, including trying to write something coherent and readable here.

I’ve always considered it a true privilege to be able to write for this site and, along with giving myself a slap to actively make more time to help preserve this wonderful portal of all things claret and blue, I’d like to support Iain’s call to arms for new writers.

There is a very dedicated band of passionate, loyal, opinionated, funny people lurking in the comments section (and people who just read) who I for one would love to read more of.

Yes it is a bit daunting. There isn’t one piece that I have submitted that I haven’t thought “god is this good enough?/will people think I’m talking s##t”. But afterwards when it is up there in black and white for all to read you realise that as long as you have remembered where the spell check button is and you haven’t written one paragraph of 500 words that everything is fine.

This is not a news site, it is an opinion site. There are no wrong opinions.

I was a long time reader here and always thought, you know what, I reckon I could have a crack at writing some stuff. And after blustering for far too long I’m so glad I threw my hat in the ring. So if you’re thinking the same thing, then do it.

It is not always easy, the point I was actually going to write about 287 words ago is that everything has gone a bit beige.

Last season was a belter. A new manager, a surprising upturn in fortunes on the field, beating all the big boys, saying farewell to our home, the rise of a new superstar. The season progressed at what felt like 100mph.

This season we started life in new surroundings, had a massive dip in form, flirted with the relegation zone before Christmas, lost the aforementioned superstar, dragged ourselves up to mid table.

And that is where we find ourselves now. Entrenched in the beige alternate reality that is mid table. It is highly likely we will finish the season somewhere between 9th and 11th. We seem to be free of any drama and it has all gone a bit One Show. Bland, poodling along at a very safe 26mph in a 30 zone.

For the last season and a half we’ve been racing round Silverstone at breakneck speed, the g-force distorting our lovely features, twisting and turning through the chicanes, not quite certain what is coming up next.

Now we are on that straight country road. Bimbling along admiring the scenery, making a vow that we’re going to make that lovely oldie worldy pub we’ve just driven past our local by moving out this way.

Look at that tea shop, isn’t it lovely, I bet they do lovely homemade shortbread.

This is what it is like to be a Stoke fan every season.

That was my 530 words – where’s yours?

COYI

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The Mike Ireson Column

Good defeats evil

What a difference a week/day/45 minutes (delete as appropriate ) make. Rollercoaster ride doesn’t get close to describing what it is like to be a Hammers fan at the moment.

Just over a week ago West Ham had their proverbial pants pulled down and Manchester City administered a humiliating bare backside thrashing. One of the most depressing displays many of us can remember, made all too worse by the fact it was beamed live around the world.

As an advert to entice other players and global supporters to join our merry band it couldn’t have gone more disastrously.

We would have made a more positive impression if we had sent the Chuckle Brothers round to take a dump on the carpet in front of the TV.

Then just as we thought it was safe to venture out in public again our ‘star player’decided he didn’t want to be our friend anymore and was going to refuse to have a kick about with us because he wanted to go and play with the bigger boys.

Wallop! We took that sucker punch right between the eyes. We’re on our knees having been globally shamed and someone decides to aim a half eaten, luke warm, covered in chilli sauce kebab at our head.

Oh the indignity of it all. We spent the whole summer fending off the jibes that ‘star player’ was too good for us and he’d go to a ‘proper club’ etc etc.

It’s ok he’s signed a new contract. He is one of us. He’s got his own song.

That’ll teach us.

So it had been a pretty bad week overall. We were lower than the morals of an ungrateful French alley cat.

We needed something, anything to cheer us up. After the first 45 minutes against Crystal Palace it didn’t look hopeful.

But then something magical happened. There is a God after all. We got a second half display to warm the most miserable of cockles.

Over Christmas I had spent an enjoyable couple of hours watching Escape to Victory. And this was ours. No we didn’t want to leg it at half time down the tunnel that the resistance had made for us. We wanted to go back out and win the game.

Come on lads, let’s stick it to Johnny foreigner from south of the river. Andy Carroll did his best Pele impression walloping the ball in to the back of the net with both feet as high as his head.

This is what we needed. A display of old. Lanzini, Carroll and Antonio reminding us that we had more than one ‘star player’.

Oh how good it was to be a West Ham fan again. All was not lost, good always defeats evil (sorry, slightly over dramatic).

I could watch those 3 goals over and over again. Not just for the quality but for the significance that after a week of absolute s###, all was not lost.

Everything was going to be alright. That stray dog on the street wasn’t going to the pound, little Timmy and his family were going to take him in and make it all better.

Well that’s where we are now. Let’s see what the next week brings ……….

COYI


The Mike Ireson Column

Off you pop then

So that’s that then. Dimitri Payet no longer wants to play for us.

Not a rumour, not pub talk, straight from the manager’s mouth.

This could be a messy divorce and if we are not careful negatively effect on the field performances.

It is no good anyone from the chairman down to us humble supporters crying over spilt beer. It’s been good while it lasted but now it’s over. If a player does not want to play for a club then there is no way back and ties must be severed sooner rather than later.

Whatever the reasons for Dimitri’s decision we can’t afford to have a player, however good he is, being forced to play. He won’t be able to give his best, the 10 players around him will be disillusioned and us, the supporters, deserve 11 men on the pitch giving their all.

I imagine his agent already has a club lined up for him (it looks like Marseille) and between them they are now forcing this move through. A good thing? Of course not, it stinks. But for the good of this club we must move him on as quickly as possible,

Any prolonged hoopla will only have a detrimental effect on the rest of the team and the results they achieve.

This is obviously not an overnight decision by the player and now with hindsight if this was going on behind the scenes, which the rest of the squad would have been well aware of, was it a factor in our shambolic display against Manchester City on Friday?

If your star team mate does not want to play with you it must weigh on your mind. It wouldn’t have been the sole reason we got spanked by Manchester City as we saw what a good team they were. But it would have been a factor.

We can not afford to be torn apart by one player. No one player is bigger than the club and as sad as it is he must be sold as soon as possible.

Am I angry with Payet? Well to be honest not really. It just makes me feel sad at the state of football in general. He, like many before him, has had his ear bent by his agent that there is greener (and much higher paid) grass elsewhere.

The ideals that we as supporters hold high, loyalty and commitment to the club, are a distant memory.

For every Mark Noble there are a hundred Dimitri Payet’s. Sad but true.

This sorry episode only goes to show that WE are this club. Not the players, not the manager, not the owners. US.

We will always be there. Next time you buy a shirt from the club shop and want a name on the back make it your own. Because you are this club.

Forever WE shall be West Ham till we die.

COYI


The Mike Ireson Column

Daylight Robbery

West Ham were very lucky on Saturday afternoon.

Lucky not to have their collars felt and be charged with theft. Hull must have travelled back up the motorway feeling like they had had their wallets pinched, which ruined what was going to be a good day out in the smoke.

It’s not very often, ok it’s never, that I feel sorry for the opposition but you have to have a bit of sympathy for Hull. If it had been the other way round we know how gutted we would have been.

As funny as it was, the naming of the post as man of the match must have felt like stamping gravel in an open wound for the Tigers.

But, that’s football. We’ve had our fair share of those situations over the years where you get naff all from a game that should have been full points.

And let’s be honest we had a hell of a lucky week. 7 points from a possible 9 where if we were a neutral we may say we actually deserved maybe 1?

Hey ho. Deserved or not we will take those 7 points thanks very much, as they have dug us out of trouble, at least for the time being.

Not so long ago we were perilously close to dropping in to the dreaded relegation zone at Christmas scenario and all the hoopla and hand wringing that goes with it.

Now we look down from a lofty 13th position. It just goes to show what a congested, tight old affair of a league we have this year. None of the 6 teams above us have won more than one game more than us.

If results go the right way on Boxing Day we could be in the top half. Not bad considering how poor we’ve been this season.

And when you look at the upcoming fixtures, if we can sort ourselves out, we don’t on paper, have many games up until the end of January where we should be too nervous.

Aside from Manchester United we have to play Swansea, Leicester, Palace and Middlesbrough. That’s got to be a good opportunity to pick up some nice points and steady the ship.

If we can play the sort of football we know we are capable of we could put some real distance between us and the scary relegation dog fight.

We can then watch on as the other poor saps scrap it out.

Have a good Christmas everyone.

COYI

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The Mike Ireson Column

Rotten to the Core

I’d been listening to an interview with Harry Redknapp earlier where he bemoaned the fact that there was no honesty in interviews by managers anymore. People always looking for the positives when there were none.

Well Slaven Bilic proved him wrong this evening with a frank post-match interview that has blown our season wide apart.

Normally managers have to be coaxed in to answers but from the first question Slaven was ready to talk and tell. He wasn’t going to stop until he said what he needed to get off his chest.

He looked a broken man. A man that was hurting deeply, and, as we were about to find out, wanted to let it be known where he felt our problems lay.

He said and I quote

“I’m not looking for excuses, you have injuries and mistakes but we were not good enough. It is a big disappointment, a big humiliation. I feel sorry for the fans and the club. We played some good games this season, and we had some good moments today, but we have to be honest and say that we don’t have the intensity. From the intensity comes the dedication and the quality, we don’t have it like we had it last year”

Then as the microphone was taken away for another question he carried on, he wasn’t finished venting his spleen….

“We don’t have it in games and we don’t have it enough even in training. That’s why we have it occasionally in games, and that is why we are so up and down, and in my opinion that is the main reason why we can’t do it for 90 minutes”

So, there you have it. We’ve been searching for the reasons why we are so poor this season. Slaven has laid the blame squarely at the players’ feet. He states they are not applying themselves either on match day or on the training ground.

Immediately after in the BT studio Ian Wright and Rio Ferdinand looked rightly shocked at what they had just heard. Rio said that if he were a West Ham Player he would take that as a personal insult.

Too damn right Rio. Our manager has just called the players out. He has basically said they are lazy and living on the achievements of last season.

If he is saying the players are under achieving in training, then we have no hope of putting in a performance in matches.

This is a man at the end of his tether (and possibly at the end of his job) who decided to come out fighting.

So, has he lost the dressing room? Or was he trying to snap his players in to action by calling them out in public?

Either scenario is deeply worrying. We either have players who have lost their drive and are too big for their boots, a manager not good enough to motivate them or both.

We are dangerously close to the bottom of the table and as Ian Wright pointed out other teams will now smell blood. They know something is wrong and will exploit it.

The 5-1 scoreline did not flatter Arsenal, it could have been 8 or 9.

Something has to change and it looks like it is a simple choice of either replacing the manager with one that can rouse this squad, or jettison the rotten apples and bring in fresh blood that will fight and scrap for the claret and blue jersey.

Not trying to be melodramatic but I think we can now safely say we are in crisis.

I feel this is not going to get better quickly. Prepare for a bumpy ride.

COYI

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