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Filed: Thursday, 8th March 2001
By: Peter Hamersley

For the second time in the space of four days we have embarrassed ourselves on the football field. The teams’ performance in these two games has been nothing short of appalling. The club should refund admission and expenses for the faithful who suffered those two displays.

Of course, the abundant excuses are there – shuffling the pack, bare bones etc, etc. It’s total rubbish and clearly shows us to be what we aspire to be – a small time club.

Why have we made the moan about losing six first choices? Surely the club should have approached these two games from a different angle. We are in the FA Cup Quarter Final this weekend. If Harry had preached the gospel about bringing in six players who will be battling for a place in our cup side – then maybe the attitude might have been that bit different. Instead of playing a team of defenders against Arsenal, we should have fielded a balanced side of players who might still be needed if the injuries have not cleared up by Sunday.

The Arsenal line up could have been balanced by playing Kitson up front with Suker. Camara could have played midfield alongside Lampard and Todorov or Diawara. A back five could have been permed from any of the many other defenders all available. If a 4-4-2 was required, then Dailly could have been pushed forward into midfield. All these players are there, being paid wages, and fit to play. What more incentive can a professional player need than a chance to play in a cup quarter final and the opportunity to make a hero of himself?

By the time the Chelsea game came around, Basillia was available to be added to the midfield and Di Canio and Joey Cole were back fit. You simply cannot say that we had no team. It’s an insult to those who paid money to watch it.

Unfortunately our aspirations are small club in the extreme. We just do not know how to think big and compete. Take the sale of Rio to Leeds for example. Sure £18m. is good business. But it’s not £18m. is it? It’s £12m. now and £6m. in a year. To accept that proves how small time we are in comparison with Leeds. They made all the running and put the offer. We should have only accepted straight £18m. cash NOW. The interest that you can make on £18m. in one year buy’s Christian Dailly effectively for nothing!

At the same time, Leeds would have had to think again at taking Robbie Keane. The deal they have done on Ferdinand and Keane has allowed Leeds to strengthen their squad on borrowed money – i.e. ours! Instead of being hurt financially, we have bank rolled them for £6m. and let them use credit to get themselves back up the league table and into the European Champions League Quarter Finals. Leeds’ on the field performances has earned them the extra revenue they needed to pay for the transfers. They have now virtually guaranteed European football again next season by their league position. When next season starts they’ll have both Ferdinand and Keane paid for from extra revenue and in the line up from the start. What incentive can other forwards at the club need than the thought that you must look over your shoulder to the likes of Keane, Viduka, Kewell or Smith waiting to take your place.

Compare that situation with ours – it makes pathetic reading at the present. Instead of making our forwards play for their place, Harry decides to pick defenders and play them out of position. What kind of message is that to these players? He’s virtually asking them to go out for 90 minutes, try to keep the score down and then piss off because they are not in the squad for Tottenham. He has sacrificed the Arsenal and Chelsea games rather than risk the embarrassment of what to do with a new combination that might have performed well and left him with a selection problem.

If Jermain Defoe was at the club now, would he have been given a run while Freddie was out injured? I think an absolute yes! What small club thinking again for us to let him become cup tied at Bournemouth, despite the loan arrangement agreed. Surely our injury crisis should prevail over any loan agreement. After Mannygate, you’d have thought it would be mandatory that none of our loan players would ever be cup tied again. Imagine if Jermain has scored fifteen to twenty goals by the time the semi final comes around (and we are fortunate enough to be there), and we have an even worsened injury crisis?

The two recent league performances have hardly picked up spirits for Tottenham. Sure it will different. No one wanted to have to play Chelsea this midweek. No one except our groundsman maybe? Due to our own small club thinking – buying undersoil heating but not knowing how to work it – we have loaded the gun to shoot ourselves in the foot. We all know that the mood was right for us to have beaten Chelsea that day in December. Those three points in the bank would have virtually ensured Premiership survival for this season. It might sound far fetched right now, but should the worst happen and we lose to Tottenham – then be prepared for a relegation fight. The immediate post match depression could see us lose another two or three games on the spin, leaving us with the need to win two out of the last six games to stay up. These games include Leeds and Newcastle, plus a host of clubs fighting to avoid the drop. It doesn’t bear thinking about does it?

Anyway, the two games are now behind us and we must turn our minds to the most important game we have played in years. Tottenham is our last chance saloon. Those of you fortunate enough to be there must make yourselves heard loud and clear. There is no room for barracking anyone. All must be treated as heroes and backed until the last. It is imperative that we beat Tottenham at the first attempt. We need the crowd to be our twelfth man. For those of us who can’t go to the game but will watch in the comfort of our living rooms, we must transmit positive vibes and will Harry’s boys on. For the rest of you, however you listen to the game, radio or Internet, the same positive vibes must now begin to transcend the airwaves.

I have said my piece and have now rid myself of this criticism. The focus is now well and truly switched to Tottenham on Sunday. For West Ham, it is our high noon. So as the song goes, “Do not forsake me oh my darling!”

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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