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The end - or a new beginning?

Filed: Tuesday, 24th May 2011
By: Paul Walker

The end of the world was supposed to be at the weekend. For West Ham fans it came a week earlier as Premier League football disappeared as quickly as Millwallís daft plane stunt.

Very funny lads, but we will only take you seriously when you one day managed to fill your ground with bitter Blues.

The feelings at Wigan were a mixture of pain and anger, it had been coming for weeks and in fact the following few days were almost a relief such has been the effect of two seasons of abject tension and disappointments.

But 15 wins from 76 league games - and just three on the road in those two seasons - you surely canít have enjoyed the ride.

I managed to avoid the desire to launch into a furious rant, raging at anyone and everyone who had contributed to the decline of our great club. From Terry Brown for sacking Ďarry, to Avram Grant for being a complete wally without a brolly.

The deluge of abuse from Fleet Streetís finest, and not so fine (are you watching Des Kelly) filled yards of column inches without me getting involved.

Some was very good, like John Dillonís outstanding assassination of bit-part agent Barry Silkman, the man many in the know blame for the dodgy transfer policy since the Davids arrived. Just what does David Sullivan see in this failed footballer, now a go-between for the super agents?

And then there was Kellyís snide, sniping, I-told-you-so attack, a week after everyone else had said the same thing without adding anything to the debate apart from his own bile. I find him the worst kind of column writer, all picked up from the cuts library with no real insight.

I recall the hardened Merseyside writers considering Kelly a clown when he was reporting up there many years ago, little has changed. Heís been niggling away at us all season and he couldnít miss the chance to put the knife in. At least his Mail colleagues Lee Clayton and Martin Samuel know what they are talking about. Right, enough said, Iíve wasted enough words on him.

The pain didnít get much better at the weekend for the final game of a distressing season against Sunderland. Far too many fans expected us to go out with a bang. No chance.

Having spent a lot of time with footballers over the years, the one thing they donít do is think like fans. They are more concerned with not getting injured, not getting booked or sent off to miss the beginning of next season while thinking only of number one and the new contract or the move away.

And thatís what we got. It was limp and insulting, but totally expected. This team had conceded 22 points from winning positions, four times thrown away two-goal leads and managed two points from the final nine matches. Oh, and they conceded 21 in the run and scored just seven. There was no fight then, so why expect any against Sunderland.?

So we waited around at the end of the lap of(dis)honour to see just who had the bottle to face us. A few waves from the centre circle and then the bulk were off down the tunnel.

A few with character and backbone stayed behind and braved all four sides of the stadium. Young Jordan Spence - who can hardly be blamed for anything so long has it taken for him to be given a chance - was excellent.

So to was Danny Gabbidon, Jack Collison, Robert Green and of course Scott Parker. But where was the captain, yes you Mathew Upson. You should have been out there leading from the front even if you were in your suit and had not even made the bench.

Just where has Upson been of late? Sullivan made a remark about out of contract players recently not being prepared to risk themselves when they are leaving. We all know who he was talking about.

Robbie Keane had returned to Spurs straight after the Wigan defeat, thankfully. Those three horror misses against Blackburn, Chelsea and Manchester City will live long in my memory. He was signed and paid ridiculous money to put away chances, what a terrible waster.

Paul Groves was on the bench alongside Kevin Keen, but he as well as the rest of Grantís Portsmouth losers will not be retained now. Nor will Wally Downes. He was there on Sunday but not on the bench (another Silkman gem) and he too will be gone. Thanks for all that defensive coaching mate, we conceded 54 in 26 games after you arrived and 27 in 14 beforehand. Made a real difference did Wally.

It was the collapse after the fine draw at Spurs that confounds many. At that point in March we were out of the bottom three having taken 12 points from seven games. The fight was there then.

But from then on we picked up that one point against Blackburn from the final eight games. I believe Grant should have been sacked anyway by then, but how much was he at fault for that disastrous run.?

The loss of Parker was the key. After that Spurs game when he played out of his skin hours after his fatherís death, Scott went off to play for England and picked up an Achilles injury. He managed two starts and two sub appearances after that.

That knocked the stuffing out of a side lacking leaders at the best of times and relied on Parker too much. They just crumbled before our eyes to our worst points total in Premier League history.

Some inside the club felt Grant should have been sacked weeks before the end of the season, it could not have made things any worse. But our owners knew that to do that then would cost them vastly more in compensation, and the Icelandic connection still holding (some)of the purse strings would not have stood for that. So the Davids waited until we were down and able to sack Grant under a clause that reduced his pay-out to around £500,000.

So now we are looking for another manager. One that , maybe, can preside over a public training session without allowing his players to argue and throw bibs around. Lee DixonĎs 'shambles' remark it is believed came from that incident when the TV pundit was watching an open day session at the Boleyn.

We need discipline, tactical structure and the ability to cope with a tough division plus being able to react quickly and positively to changes our opponents make during matches. None of those apply to Grant.

The McLarens, Hoddles and Ancelottis can be consigned to the silly corner, while Paul Lambert looks like he is going to get his new contract after his name was floated at just the right moment to prod Norwich into action.

Gus Poyet certainly did not rule himself out, he just said he wouldnít apply as a man under contract should say.

I still doubt Martin OíNeil and Sam Allardyce are really interested now, Alex McLeish and Ian Holloway will stay where they are, and West Ham should not be associated with managers who have the poisonous negativity of relegation hanging over them. Yes, you Mr.Grant. Which leaves the likes of Chris Hughton and David Jones.

Cardiff fans and the local media in the Welsh capital just want to see the back of Jones, which must say something, while Hughton is condemned in some quarters with faint praise because he had by far the strongest squad in the division when he got Newcastle back up at the first time of asking.

Such is the management industry at our level that all the candidates have plus and minus points about them. We can only sit and watch to see which was the Davids jump, because this appointment is to important to mess up.

Letís hope that Silkman is kept away from the action. Surely no serious contender would accept an agent dictating all the transfers. Remember, this is the man who brought us Winstone Reid and Pablo Barrera.

Get shot of him Sullivan, his very presence I understand is putting off some applicants. The good ones!

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.

Your Comments

by Paul f
08:39PM 24th May 2011
''Di Canio? The guy is a fascist. Completely unacceptable. We would be pariahs with him in charge. Pound to a penny Swindon will be looking for a new boss by October.''

by g portugal
07:05PM 24th May 2011
''Excellent article. As for the relegation clause regarding Grant's contract, if the owners were waiting to sack him UNTIL we were officially relegated they should be shot. The cost of going down and staying down for several years is £200million pounds or more. I don't care if we had to pay Grant an extra £5million for sacking him directly after the Man City game, it STILL would have been worth it.

With ANYBODY ELSE IN CHARGE, whether it was Keen or even Brooking for the final three games, we would have stood a real chance of getting the points we needed from the Blackburn, Wigan and Sunderland fixtures.

Any moron, or morons, who were prepared to risk £100 to £200million because they were unwilling to pay an extra £3 to £5million to Grant in compensation ARE UNFIT TO WEAR THE SHIRT AND UNFIT TO RUN THE CLUB.

Pretty simple message to the owners: if you take the soft, cheap option, then you get what you pay for. And if you treat us, the supporters with contempt, then we the supporters will redefine the word contempt for you.''

by DD
05:34PM 24th May 2011
''A thoughtful article. I have always supported the policy of playing 'the West Ham Way' in good times and bad from the mid-sixties onward. However, I am now beginning to turn to the view that Sam Allardyce should be appointed - at least he would not tolerate the present shambles on and off the field and morale must be lower than it has ever been before. I have been ashamed and embarrassed by some of the events that have taken place on and off the field this season at the club which I have loved and followed so devotedly for so long. Realistic measures must be taken to meet the challenge of the Championship and unless there is a vast improvement in organization any assumption that promotion will be gained quickly would be arrogant and dangerously unrealistic.

Could we also please have a return to the dignity. shown by Messrs. Greenwood, Lyall and Pratt in times of difficulty in the past. A period of silence, humility and hard reflection and thinking from the directors and officers of the Club would be welcome - whatever his faults (and there were many of them) at least Avram Grant maintained his dignity throughout this season - as did Scotty Parker.''

by David
05:04PM 24th May 2011
''I would not totally dismiss the idea of Martin O'Neill just yet. Once his arbitration hearing with Villa is done I believe he could be swayed. Ego is a huge motivator.''

by pwf6464
01:50PM 24th May 2011
''Could not agree more!

I think the Davids are once again going to go for the cheap option and bring in somebody whio is not going to motivate the team or instill any back backbone into them. It's too late now, and may seem a bit mad, but I think we could not have done much better than having Paolo at number 1 and Julian as his number 2. Can you imagine the changing room at half time after a crap first half, somehow I do not think motivation would be a problem there.

Joking aside, I really think we have done a wrong 'un and missed out on Paolo. He was a brilliant and talented footballer with an exceptional level of passion, players would want to play for him and he would attract some good players as well, I'm sure.''

by Melvyn Phillips
11:42AM 24th May 2011
''Great article Paul, a lot of truth and I for one as a season ticket holder concur with what you have said.

It's all about the new manager and the money and the freedom he will have.
The directors also need a new PR man, and need to stay away from the press. They are only bringing this club down in the eyes of many with their comments.''

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