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In Harry's defence

Filed: Wednesday, 14th March 2001
By: Paul Eastwood

Firstly, I must point out that sometimes I do not fully understand Harry’s tactical policies regarding formation/substitutions etc. however, I would like to redress the balance (hopefully) to some extent with regards to the amount of public criticism he has been getting from fans.

Some of his signings have been questionable to say the very least (and I think we all know which ones I’m including here). However, we mustn’t underestimate the contribution the board and the players have on his ideas/judgement and subsequent results etc.

It is all too easy to call for a manager’s head in times of trouble. Look at the stick John Lyall got near the end having earlier taken us to Wembley and our highest league position on what we are told were ‘limited’ resources.

The board rarely appear to take into account the interest of fans, this is not just limited to West Ham but most, if not all, other clubs. A prime example of this in our case would be the Bond scheme. Now we all know this fell flat on its face due to fan pressure, and the fact that they only sold a tiny fraction of the estimated 16-20,000. But the reason for them trying this on was due to the Taylor Report on stadia. If all boards from all clubs had stuck together I have no doubt that an alternative to all-seater stadia could have been agreed. But they knew that if they were to install seats they would be able to charge more and we would still go (which has been proved in the increased attendances generally), thus generating more income for the club and not least of all, themselves.

Let’s not forget that they are probably getting more money from Sky than they are through the turnstiles, so any income from ticket sales is probably an added bonus (this is only my opinion and will hold my hand up if I am wrong there).

Very, very few managers would criticise their board or make their feelings known publicly due to personal and legal reasons, so they have to be very careful there. So I have to give H the benefit of the doubt there when he talks about cash (or lack of) available for players and who he can make a bid for.

Apart from the board it is the players who must shoulder their portion of the blame. We know what certain players are capable of and can accept the odd ‘off day’ as we all have them sometimes. But what is galling is that certain players do not seem to want to fight for the club.

Personally, as much as I would like to see us win trophies every year and get into Europe, I would be happy to watch West Ham giving 100% each game and even if they ended in mid-table I wouldn’t mind. I would reiterate here though that I am not unambitious as far as the team's achievements go. We know that on our day we can beat anyone - like Man Utd in the Cup. So why can’t they produce that sort of form the following week? Lack of motivation?

It should not be up to the manager to motivate the players - they are professionals, many earning more in a week than I do in a year (£11k just for the record), so they shouldn’t be hanging their heads and saying ‘ooh I’m tired. It’s been a hard week’. It is for all of us working all day, week in week out, just to spend our money watching players feeling sorry for themselves.

The sort of players we need at the club are ones committed to West Ham, supporters of the club who will wear the claret and blue with pride week in week out. Muzzy Izzet for instance (okay, not everyone's cup of tea, but a West Ham fan). Supporters like myself who would play for the club for nothing and give 100% each game regardless, and if any player in the squad can’t he should go now!

Harry is doing what he believes is right whether we agree or not but he is West Ham through and through so give him a little leeway please. Scream and shout at the players who are not producing the goods, and if they have any claret and blue in their veins they will respond. Give the board stick if you like, but bear in mind that Harry shouldn’t shoulder all the blame for the bad performances. He’s not alone out there.

If you are still reading at this point congratulations, and thank you. It was really good to get that off my chest.

Now COME ON YOU IRONS - go out on Sunday and give Spurs hell!

And to all you supporters - bring back the good old days and sing your hearts out for the club. Lets play our part . This is our biggest chance for glory for years, so BE LOUD!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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