The GoatyGav Column

It’s been a long, tough road. There have been moments, fleeting promise of ‘The West Ham Way’, for so long the memories start to fade.

Perhaps during Alan Pardew’s time it was attacking football. Then again was that really the enterprising, pass and move, stuff that West Ham were historically renowned for or was it just about speed and power going forward? Somewhere betwixt the two?

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For me it was just before, and during, the turn of the Millennia when we last played truly entertaining football on a regular basis. When I look back at that squad I practically drool. Signings like Berkovic, Trevor Sinclair and Signor Di Canio alongside the academy products of Cole, Lampard jr, Rio and Carrick provided great options. It wasn’t too shabby at the back, either, with Steve Potts coming to the end of his career, Psycho at full back and the steele of Stimac and Ruddock in the mix. In the middle the likes of Marc-Viviene Foe (will never forget when Roy Keane, all of a sudden, didn’t fancy it following him going in for ‘afters’ with M-V F) and Steve Lomas provided bite. The inimitable John Moncur always brings a smile back and Stan ‘Skippy’ Laziridis was a good player to watch. Several other decent players contributed to the 8th, followed by 5th & 9th place finishes around that time including Marc Keller, Wanchope, Kanoute and Minto with Defoe coming through after Ian Wright left. Despite ‘Arry’s howlers, when it came to signings, that was a really decent squad which I enjoyed watching immensely.

Always makes me smile :) .

Following that time it’s been a real struggle. Yes, there have been fleeting moments of unadulterated joy, including the 2006 F.A. Cup run, but nothing sustained.

Once again I’m excited however. It’s not just the players that have come in this season. This squad has been slowly building for a couple of years now. The Summer spending spree brought some fantastic talent to our club. I’ve wanted Yarmalenko to sign since I saw him play when he’d just broken through from youth ranks at Kyiv. In a game in 2012 Arsenal had absolutely no answer to him as he tore them apart in a European tie for Dynamo Kyiv. The North London club pursued the signature of the Ukraine international for years but never managed to get the deal over the line until his form, and his stock, dropped in the Bundesliga playing for Borussia Dortmund. Form, as they say, is temporary but Class is permanent. He’s a classy player in my view.

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I have to admit to not knowing too much about Fellippe Anderson before his arrival. What I saw I liked but, without following a player closely, it’s hard to judge for sure. It’s also hard to know if players will make it in the Premier League. I am, however, completely convinced that he’s going to prove a huge star for West Ham – easily as big a player as some of the aforementioned signings by Harry Redknapp.

With all that money spent, and mouthwatering talent signed, it’s more about how the team are playing that is getting the juices flowing now though. We’re starting to see some enterprising passing and movement in and around opposition penalty areas once more.

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I spent Saturday afternoon with a mate, Rick, who’s moved South from Manchester, watching Alan Devnonshire’s Maidenhead United lose 2-0 to Leyton Orient. I’d only ever been to York Road once before, for a pre-season friendly against Harry Redknapp’s West Ham. On that occasion I was with my two nephews who went to school with Adam Newton – who made a second half appearance in the game. The only other, notable, event during that game, outside of some very tasty tackles by Stimac, was the streaker who ran the entire length of the pitch pursued by stewards before jumping in to the West Ham fan’s stand then being given a jacket to put on to assist his evasion of the authorities. Anyway, back in the room, Rick & I discussed his team, Manchester City, at length and got on to the subject of Manuel Pellegrini’s time as their manager. Rick was certainly of the opinion that the football on show under the Chilean gaffer was far more pleasing on the eye than that served up by Roberto Mancini. As popular as the Italian boss was Pellegrini’s time there was a good deal more enjoyable than what preceded.

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I’m hugely positive about the way things are going at West Ham. It’s not only the quality of the squad that’s improving – it’s also the fayre that’s being served up. As the team gels, which is visibly happening from game to game, and other options are starting to return from injury, there’s a definite feeling of optimism for the season ahead. I genuinely believe that ‘The West Ham Way’ is returning to East London. Happy days Hammers.

I’m dreaming of a Claret & Blue Wembley.

COYI! West Ham 4 The Cup!