The Mike Ireson Column
As I write this, it is a few days since we became the centre of attention as we took one manager to the vets to be put down, and resurrected another from football’s graveyard.
Dust has started to settle and some things have started to become a little clearer, whilst other things have become a little murkier with questions to be asked (and answered).
I, like many of you, have gone through a gambit of emotions since it became clear at the weekend that change was afoot.
On Saturday I was angry at yet another abject performance where, quite frankly, we were embarrassed. On and off the pitch.
But I still really wasn’t angry with Slaven Bilic. That is because I didn’t want to be. Like when an elderly dog leaves yet another wet patch on the carpet, you don’t want to be angry with them because you know it isn’t their fault and you ultimately still love them.
Slaven ticked so many boxes for us that we ignored the wet patches for a long time. Unfortunately those wet patches were results and it could only go on so long before, despite your love, putting him out of his (and our) misery was the only option.
When the deed was done I was genuinely sad. A sadness I had not felt since John Lyall and Billy Bonds were shown the door. This felt like we were doing wrong by a family member.
Then came the anxiety. Not about who the next manager might be, as it was plain to see immediately it was going to be David Moyes.
He’s not a West Ham man, he won’t understand us like Slaven, it won’t feel the same, he’s lost it, does he know the West Ham way? Etc etc.
It didn’t feel right.
But who would?
Now, having watched his interviews and had a more rational think about it, I’m a lot more positive. Yes his reputation is tarnished, but that should work in our favour. We have a manager who must do well. Not for us but himself.
Once the most desirable manager in the Premier League he finds himself in a situation where only some kind of success at West Ham will save what was once the brightest of career prospects.
With only a contract till the end of the season he has to come in firing on all cylinders. He is not here for the money or to keep the seat warm, he is here to succeed.
I imagine, if pushed, he would have taken the job for nothing. As he has made clear in all interviews he is here for redemption. Fail here and not only will he not get another contract with us but no top team will go near him.
This kind of drive and reward can only be good for us? Right?
It is this motivation that will enable him to tackle head on the biggest problem. The players.
Apparently, once relived of his duties Slaven Bilic telephoned a few of the senior players to ask where it had gone wrong (although I wonder why he hadn’t asked this question of them when he had a chance to rectify it).
The overwhelming consensus was that he was too nice and had been overly soft with certain members of the playing squad. Not imposing fines for lateness, certain individuals turning up for training when they fancied, and the rest of the squad being irked by this.
If you watched Sky Sports News on Monday you will have seen them trot out all the stats about why we were so bad. Least distance covered, least amount of sprints made etc, led them to conclude we were the unfittest squad in the league.
Well add those statistics to the stories of certain players poor attitude to training and discipline leads me to a different conclusion. We have the laziest squad who put the least amount of effort in.
Not everyone of course but we clearly have bad apples who think they are all that and a bag of chips.
Look upon any team of 11 that have been on the pitch this season and you cannot say they are unfit. They’re not coughing and wheezing after 70 minutes or look like they’ve done an army assault course at the end of the game.
If we had 11 Neil Ruddock’s out there I’d agree, but we have a team of professional athletes. Poor attitude has led us to have covered the least amount of ground, not poor physicality.
Now we can all quite easily speculate as to which individuals this may apply to but what we need is someone to come in and have the nuts to drop anyone with a rubbish attitude.
David Moyes has already said this. If your attitude is poor or you appear to be unfit you’re dropped. And I back him to do this. The clock ticking over his head will not allow him to namby pamby around.
This will go one of two ways. At the moment I have belief that it will go the right way.
It will be very interesting to see which 11 players cross the white line at Watford. It may just tell you a lot about those that don’t ………