Filed: Monday, 27th February 2012
By: Paul Walker
Amazing, isn’t it, how things come back to bite you on the bum when you are least expecting it.
West Ham seemed to have spent much of last week placing some clearly contrived pieces on the club website praising season ticket holders, and even getting players and manager to mention specific parts of the ground by name to thank them for their support. Yea, right!
Then Big Sam comes up with the criticism of fans who booed his side after Saturday’s disappointing 0-0 home draw with a very decent Crystal Palace side as they trooped off the pitch at the end.
Praise one minute, to seemingly satisfy some policy decision from on high, then dishing out stick!
Sam went to the extent of revealing that some of his players were annoyed because "we are at the top of the table". Now as soon as he said that he must have known it was giving a load of headlines to the press on the same old, tired, line of West Ham fans being hard to please.
"Hammers feel fans fury" was one wild over-exaggeration. Frankly, I didn’t hear any booing from my vantage point. The Bobby Moore patrons trailed away to the sound of disappointed, frustrated silence.
What there was must have come from the Alpari stand (always the West Stand to me)… whose patrons had been singled out for special praise earlier in the week. I’m a great believer in the attitude that what is said in the dressing room after the heat of battle and when tensions are high, should stay there. Sam really did not need to mention it, all it caused was negative headlines.
And I wonder if the players who did sound off really want their thoughts unveiled to the nation in that way?
Sam, if confronted with questioning about booing should not add fuel to the fire, he should brush it away. But he chose to use what his players had said in the heat of the moment to make some sort of point about patience. You didn’t need to do that.
Many managers, I found in my writing career, believed they understood the media and knew how to manipulate it. No they don’t.
I recall Joe Royle once banning the media from Everton‘s training ground. He was sacked within a few weeks, because the row just escalated. Not nice, but you cannot control media like that, they always come back to get you in the end.
The club’s rather ham-fisted way of praising fans and especially season ticket holders was probably an attempt divert criticism which occasionally follows the ‘kids for a quid’ scheme and cheaper ticket offers to fill the Boleyn, which does annoy some season ticket holders.
But surely we all are aware of the need for a full stadium, such is this club’s financial state, and we can do the maths ourselves. Dividing games into your season ticket price still makes buying your ticket upfront the cheapest option.
I have mine because it is convenient, gets me away tickets and is cheaper per game, and it may get me a cup final ticket (now stop laughing) but I’d rather it did not get me anywhere near the play-off final. No thanks, we just have to avoid that nightmare.
So after all that brown-nosing the season ticket holders, we end up with the manager being critical of the small minority - because that is all it must have been - voicing their disapproval of the result on Saturday.
Sam has admitted he should have rotated the side following the massive demands of three ten-men performances in a row, with the players looking utterly shattered after the Blackpool triumph.
Mark Noble, James Tomkins and James Collison had run themselves to a standstill at Bloomfield Road, they were bound to be weary against Palace. Noble was not man of the match on Saturday, despite being the choice of sponsors. Robert Green and Abdoulaye Faye were both outstanding against a Palace side who hounded our midfield three from start to finish.
But it wasn’t so much the result that deflated everyone, but the fact that we again wasted the chance to put real pressure and daylight on our promotion rivals. All the draw did was to allow Southampton to re-claim top spot, and saw Reading, Blackpool and Brighton get closer to us.
Now Sam may have thought he was being cute in mentioning we were still top, but that was a naive attempt to gloss over reality. Everyone leaving the Boleyn knew we had wasted another great opportunity to go clear, and did anyone not believe that Southampton would take advantage?
Interestingly, we even had one newspaper twisting Sam’s quote. The new Sunday edition of the Sun, on it’s debut weekend, turned Sam’s quote into "one or two in the dressing room were unhappy (with the fans) because we are second in the league".
Now that’s only a small thing compared to some of the stuff that has been perpetrated by News International of late, but I still come from the old school which says quotes should never be altered.
And Sam deliberately said "top" to emphasise his point even if he knew that we would not be staying there for long. Sam had deliberately stretched a point, and the Sun opted to doctor his words, because we were second by the time the paper was out to bed, and it looked better for them.
Sadly, the draw has made things a whole lot harder. Southampton, with very rich owners, have been a big threat all season. Reading, with very rich perspective new owners, are an increasing worry. Players like Jimmy Kebe have been given new contracts to ward off people like us and Premier League - for now - Wolves, who tried to buy him.
It is no surprise that the clubs really challenging for promotion are those with the parachute payments, or have recently had them. Now we are only four points clear of Reading, which would have been six had we beaten Palace, with the Berkshire club on the same number of games and still having to come to the Boleyn.
It’s Cardiff next, after their outstanding display against Liverpool at Wembley in the Carling Cup, and that will be tough, with must-win home games against Watford and Doncaster to follow. Then we have Leeds, Middlesbrough, Burnley and Reading next month.
Let’s hope the warm-weather training this week has some good effect on the tired limbs of players who had three matches on the trot with ten men to contend with. And then everyone can forget a few muppets who chose to boo at the end of Saturday’s game.
You know my views on that. I have never booed my team and never will. It only causes problems, just as we have seen in the past few days.
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.
by chris walford
10:19AM 6th Mar 2012
''Promotion at all costs? No! Playing real along the ground Football is the way to get results that will get us promoted - but will that be under Allardyce?''
07:40PM 29th Feb 2012
''Things have improved no end, and saying otherwise will not make it true.''
08:09PM 28th Feb 2012
''Say what you like, but you are WRONG to think it is OK to BOO a team that is/was top of the table, and putting their best shift in.
It is professional football, not a race against a special Olympian. Sometimes we will not win, and that is OK. This team is trying hard, and that is all you can ask. It's not like last year.''
02:41PM 28th Feb 2012
''I am in the BBL and I have seen Rob Green's face when he turns round at the end of the game after we have failed to win (he aint happy).
I, like every fan want to win every game but I am not stupid. Due to the economy there are empty seats in my stand and I see new faces every game, they come in expecting to win 5-0 - and if they are still here at full time they vent their fury at spending their hard-earned money on a loss or a draw.
What gets me is I buy a season ticket and then read about the special offers on games, but do I boo the team? NEVER! Hammer for life.''
by Tell it how it is Charlie!
10:35AM 28th Feb 2012
''I think we should get one thing straight. The fans aren´t stupid, if they see effort and passion they will not boo, they only boo when the commitment/passion just hasn´t been there.
The fans pay £40+ to see these football matches, too bloody right they´re entitled to boo. In the old days there used to be a cry of "what a load of rubbish" that used to echo around the ground.
I don´t buy the concept of the players being tired. Southampton came to the Boleyn having played three days before and West Ham, not for 10+ days, it should have showed in the last 20 minutes.
Basically we have a team that are only fit enough to play one game a week. Other top teams appear to be well capable of playing three games a week. This in part what makes a top player (teams), the fitness levels. Bless them, the West Ham players cannot take criticism. Fitness levels were a problem last year, could it cost us this year?
If you´re top of the league then you should be winning quite a few by high margins, it hasn´t happened especially against these lower level sides. They're (the fans) trying to find grounds for optimism next year. Clearly if you´re top of the league, surely the expectation should be there, no?
I´m not sure you´re ever likely to win a football match with intimidation alone. It might work at Old Trafford or Anfield but at the Boleyn I´m not so sure. ''
by Chris from Stratford
12:19AM 28th Feb 2012
''Big Sam sounds surprised by the booing, why? because he fails to understand true West Ham fans.
We want to wtach a team playing football, not a team whose game plan is decided by statistics. Fans no longer seem to make any noise at Upton Park, why? becuase the football is sh*t, we dont want to watch it. You can say, "well we have to play like we do in order to gain promotion". No we dont. Norwich went up under Lambert playing football.
Upton Park is soulless because the manager is soulless. The crowd boo as many do not mind putting up with long-ball football as long as we win, as soon as we do not, the football becomes unacceptable.''
by Tony Hammer
08:50PM 27th Feb 2012
''I agree that Sam had no need to even mention the alleged booing. I must say that from the Chicken Run I heard no booing at FT. There was some murmurings of discontent from the Rio Stand. Mostly it was just a disappointed silence.
Allardyce got his team selection and tactics wrong - certainly for the first half at least - and rather than admit his mistake chose to focus on a small minority of idiots who frankly I would rather never attended a game ever again.''
08:21PM 27th Feb 2012
''I sit high up in the West stand, the booing was from behind us in the spare non-season ticket seats, so people you don't come often and know little of how it is.
We told them it was not on to boo your own team (to little effect).''
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