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Nigel Kahn’s Column

Noble Cause in Defeat

What Links Peter Pan, ACDC and West Ham United? The answer is below the main article.

The Mark Noble love in after his announcement of his pending retirement at the end of the 2021/22 season lasted just up until the announcement of the team to play in the first game since he made the announcement.

One minute I am laughing at fans as they punt around Facebook petitions to give him another testimonial and even retire his shirt. Next minute I’m banging my head against the wall as the Man United starting line up is released and the sight of Noble’s name in the starting 11 sends more than a few on Twitter into an apoplectic fit for the impending doom about to befall us.

So much for retiring his number. Many want to retire Noble there and then and bear in mind, this was before the game had been played. Moyes was also a target for the boo-boys (and girls, I’m not genderist) with the playing of Noble and also the not starting with Benrahma the main thread of attack on him. I have never understood those that lose it as such before a game is played. Some of the rants you would think these were out of work football managers or coaches with a far better grasp of tactics that a man that has been in football management constantly since 1998. Surly football fans, especially West Ham fans, know that in a game anything can happen. Worse West Ham teams have gone to Old Trafford and got a result against better Man United teams so I just don’t get the mentality of complaining before the game has been played.

Possibly the result and the performance played into the hands of those complaining before the game though Mark Noble did not contribute in any way to Man United scoring their goal and neither did David Moyes tactics lead to their goal. It was just plain bad luck.

Moyes’ tactics are open to scrutiny but the fact he was without two of his more adventurous players in the injured Fornals and the club tied Jesse Lingard hampered the way he likes us to play.

‘Too defensive’ I saw many complain. This has merit, but once we went behind and Moyes changed the formation, while we looked more capable of scoring and attacked far more than we did in the first half, United at times exploited the fact we were coming out to face them in their half by catching us quickly on the break. Mason Greenwood should have buried his chance that hit the post and there were other half chances.

Moyes’ substitutions did lead to us being more exposed at the back and as much in danger of conceding a 2nd goal than us scoring an equaliser, which in some ways shows Moyes was right to be cautious to begin the game with the team he did.

What is of note perhaps is that David Moyes has only won at Old Trafford while managing Man United, he has never achieved that as an opposition manager, so from that perspective his tactics of containment rather than attacking from the off perhaps highlights the reason why he has that bad record there.

This season West Ham have lost to Newcastle, Arsenal, Man United Twice, Liverpool twice Chelsea and Man City and in regards to the Newcastle game I feel we got caught cold there at the start of the season and if played later we would have beaten them. This is possibly the first season where we have taken points from all the teams we would expect to take points from, apart from Newcastle but generally lost to the teams we could expect nothing from.

In 2006/07 the season of the so-called ‘Great Escape’ we gained 12 points out of the 41 earned from the Arsenal and Man United games, West Ham always could upset the big boys while flattering to deceive against those that we see as our peers or even lesser teams.

I get sometimes the frustration that we are so close to gatecrashing the top 4 places in the Premier League that with a bit more ambition we could achieve that rather than finishing so close and instead of thinking how great a season its been I bet many will see it as an opportunity lost.

I see this season as being a good season no matter how it finishes for us but these seasons have happened in the past, what is rare is us doing it again the next season and on and on.

I have just finished reading John Lyall’s autobiography that came out just after he was let go by the club. His one great ambition un-fulfilled was to win the title and he thought West Ham as a club were good enough to achieve that. 32 years on and still it’s the great ambition un-fulfilled.

What Links Peter Pan, ACDC and West Ham United I asked above, well it is not a person as such as a town in Scotland.

Kirriemuir is located outside of Forfar in Angus, just north of Dundee. It was in Kirriemuir that J.M Barrie the creator of Peter Pan was born, and there is a statue of Pan in the town to celebrate their famous son being born.

ACDC the Australian rock band link is not the fact they played the London Stadiums first music concert nor that they had Claret & Blue T-shirts made to mark that event, but Bon Scott the original singer with the band, who died in 1980 in a car in London, not driving but in his sleep possible overdosing on heroin. Well Bon was born in Kirriemuir as well.
He too is celebrated with a statue in the town.

So what is the West Ham connection? Well, it is not anything to do with Frank McAvennie nor Ray Stewart or any other recent player for West Ham but it is linked to us as being the birthplace of John Lyall’s father James who was brought up in the town before coming south to London. It seems it wasn’t a co-incidence the reason many pre-seasons under John Lyall were spent in Scotland, John was in fact using it to visit the family back home.

Perhaps John could be crowned King of the Jockneys.

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