Filed: Monday, 19th March 2012
By: Paul Walker
Ok, so let’s get things straight once and for all as we face the final ten games of this relentlessly demanding season.
Two questions. Do we want to stay in the Championship a second longer than is necessary? Secondly, are we happy to continue abusing our own manager and players with so much at stake over the final weeks of the season?
If the answers to both question are not a resounding NO on both occasions, then you should really take a hard look at yourself.
Whether you think it is right or not that manager and players have got the hump with the Boleyn fans over booing, the reality is that they have. Big Sam is even claiming (in his Evening Standard column) that our players are actually “frightened” of playing at home.
The damage that is causing is obvious to anyone casting an eye over the league table. We have given away 21 points at home. Reading have conceded 20 and Southampton 12. Such fine margins will dictate who goes up.
My view is that a debate on whether players, who live in a financial bubble with some being paid in one week what fans earn in a year, should feel this way, is pointless.
Yes, they should be able to handle such pressure and do their job. But the reality is different. There‘s also a valid discussion to be had over our style of play, but not now.
The time has come for hostilities and booing to end. The greater objective is too important. If we stay in this division one more season, the financial implications are devastating, reading David Sullivan’s interview with Iain Dale recently over our financial situation should have left nobody in any doubt.
Our debts, overall funding, quality of squad and ability to attract players depends on us winning promotion this season. Sullivan’s comments about exactly where we are, made me feel sick to the pit of my stomach. The debt does not seem to being cut significantly, it’s being managed and the owners are funding the promotion chase.
This club could change forever more if we cannot get back into the Premier League and take our share of the vast wealth being generated there.
So for a matter of about six weeks before the season ends, surely we should give every ounce of support we can muster to this team. There’s no point in berating Sam over tactics at this stage, he isn’t going to change and does not have the creative ability in the squad to do so anyway, in my view.
And if the players are using the booing at home as an excuse, then we should make sure that problem is no longer an issue. Fans maintain they have every right to express a view, and they have, even if I wish people would think first. But for six weeks, can we have a truce?
I am led to believe that the players were upset with the crowd reaction after the Palace draw, and that they were not afforded greater credit for their performances in three previous matches with ten men, in particular the win at Blackpool.
I also understand that Big Sam has a group of fans who sit behind the home dug-out area who are not slow to let him know what they feel. He’s big enough and ugly enough to handle that, it is not harming the performance on the pitch.
It was evident during the Watford game that players were turning to the crowd appealing for more noise and support, Abdoulaye Faye, Ricardo Vaz Te and Mark Noble all turned to different areas of the ground urging more support, in desperation at times.
I feel that the booing has been blown up out of all proportion anyway. But it has become an issue because the players have made it so. And I don’t take kindly to a Spurs-supporting pal who asks me now if I‘m booing my team. Enough is enough.
So let’s just give it a rest for the greater good of the club. People are entitled to their opinions, we pay good money for tickets and are in an age that demands for instant success, so patience is getting shorter from fans who have still not really got over the disgrace of last season.
But I also believe players have pointed out that it is fine for the crowd to bawl out Bubbles before the game, but that when the game starts the stadium falls silent. Faye - and now Danny Collins - for example, have experienced something very different at Stoke.
We have six weeks to put things right, to give the manager and players the platform they want to perform, then there can be no excuses. Too many players have left this club over recent years and complained about the fans here, let’s take away that final excuse this season.
The manager and players are quick to highlight the different atmosphere they believe that emanates from the away support. Nearly 5,000 were at Leeds to see an undistinguished game, but a vital point and a battling performance.
It was never going to be pretty, no game against a Neil Warnock side ever is. But standing watching Leeds score with seven minutes left, I did wonder what the reaction would have been had that happened at the Boleyn.
But the away fans just got on with things and kept pushing the players on, to be rewarded with Collins’ equaliser. In isolation, a point at Elland Road is a good one, it’s never been our happiest hunting ground.
I notice Warnock was complaining (not a surprise) about a perceived foul by Carlton Cole in the build-up to Collins’ equaliser. But he was strangely quiet about Michael Brown’s clear two-handed offence in the box in the first half.
Warnock was given loud and deserved dogs’ abuse by the visiting fans, who found themselves conveniently placed almost behind the home dug-out. Carlos Tevez’s name hammered Warnock’s ears.
The former Sheffield United boss turned and gave us a smile and a wiggle of his bum at the end, at least he can take and give out stick. There’s no point is asking why our fragile players cannot do the same.
Sadly, away wins by Southampton and Reading left us that bit further away from the top two places in the league.
But Sam and the players interviewed afterward were determinedly positive. That has to be the only reaction, because negativity at this stage achieves nothing when you are ten games from the end of the season.
What we have to do now is go on the sort of run that has taken Reading ahead of us. Sam is still talking of 90 points to be sure, so maybe seven more wins and a draw or two will reach that target.
That is not impossible. Reading have to visit us, Southampton and Birmingham in their final nine games, plus matches against Blackpool, Leeds and Brighton. If they win that lot, they deserve to go up.
Southampton play Hull, Blackpool, Reading and Middlesbrough. So there is scope for them to slip up as well.
So negative talk of us blowing it should end. There is still almost a third of the season left in six frantic weeks. As fans we should put all our complaints to one side and give this great club the best possible chance to win promotion. The alternative does not bear thinking about.
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.
09:46PM 27th Mar 2012
''I remember Upton Park being called a fortress, when the crowds literally raised the roof cheering the team on. So come on, let's show the team we're right behind them and get West Ham back where they belong in the Premier League. Let's face it, if we get the Olympic Stadium, wouldn't it be better to move in as a Premier League club?''
03:09PM 20th Mar 2012
''Of course the fans should get behind the team during the game, they should keep encouraging them from kick off until the final whistle - to otherwise can only be counterproductive.
Sometimes the players can give everything and things just don't go their way, I think we all appreciate that, but if we end up with a poor result against a poor team after a poor performance then supporters are perfectly entitled to express their dissatisfaction.
I do think you have to look at poor performances within the context of the seaon as a whole - all teams have bad days after all. I get the feeling though that there has been a dissatisfaction amongst a fairly sizeable section of supporters with the style and quality of our play over the season and whilst people were willing to put up with it to a large extent while we were getting results they were not going to have much patience when that stopped happening.
Winning ugly can be tolerable given the stakes involved but losing (or drawing against poor sides) ugly less so. I think the booing after the Palace game was a bit premature, but I find it hard to criticise the reaction of the supporters to draws at home to Watford and Doncaster.''
12:59PM 20th Mar 2012
''Great article. Well balanced and said what needed to be said!''
10:01AM 20th Mar 2012
''Well said. Excellent article.''
12:40AM 20th Mar 2012
''The manager's mediocre style of football, the ever-changing starting XI, the tried and re-tried formations, the absence of an established goal scoring partnership and negative creativity in midfield will be our undoing. Crowds at UP are not the same anymore and some have come to accept that what you see is what you get and settle for it, others just boo.
In 45 years of going to Upton Park I have never joined in booing the team off the pitch, it is wrong. I had a massive argument in the East Lower with a group of boo boys two seasons ago for constantly moaning about Tomkins and the team in general. I moved to the BM Upper to enjoy my football. Ironically the boo boys stopped going the following season, so I did have an affect on them and I was supported by the otherwise silent victims who championed my stand against them, but not as vocally as I did!
The supporters have been very frustrated at UP for quite a few seasons and I fear that what we have is not a foundation for a trip back to the PL. We have a board who sacked Zola and chose Avram Grant, then failed to get rid of him and regretted it later. They got Sam Allardyce yet before that they managed to scare off Martin O'Neill and regretted it.
Zola was impressed by the theory behind the football project, that's why he he signed for us - he was culled while laying his foundation for a better West Ham - look at Carlton Cole then compared to now. The Icelandic's near ruined our club and the Davids bailed us out but for the obvious business opportunity, the Olympic Stadium post 2012. I liked what Zola had to offer, he wasn't given the time.
We will never have the riches of some clubs but all the same I do not trust the board- it wasn't that long ago they were at Birmingham and I'm not sure they left them any the better for being there. Perhaps they tried to move to the NEC and failed?
Sorry but don't think we are getting that automatic promotion place. And I'm prepared to be disappointed. I hope I'm wrong - I really do, but my head has the better of me.''
by Haim Baram
12:03AM 20th Mar 2012
''I think the truly brilliant Mr Walker doesn't challenge the almost universally accepted assersion, that Big Sam's excuse for football is extremely ugly. On the other hand he insinuated that our current style of play is effective, and we all agree that promotion is vital.
But this ugly football is not efficient and we lose points, especially at home due to the luck of movement and skill in our midfield. On the 29th February 2012 I wrote here: "The more practical question is whether this style actually works. For now it does, but it will become increasingly difficult to obtain three points even from home game by these aerial tactics". The doubts remain valid even, as we all hope, we'll win tomorrow.''
10:15PM 19th Mar 2012
''I don't want to say to much except this. Which is more difficult to do: 11 men trying to lift 30,000 or 30,000 men trying to lift 11?
COYI. We can do it.''
09:20PM 19th Mar 2012
''Best article EVER on KUMB! About time this was said...''
by neil coombes
09:00PM 19th Mar 2012
''If I put as much effort and hard work into my business as our team does sometimes (or to be more precise,a certain number of players) I would be bankrupt and everyone would say I should have put more effort in and stopped blaming it on everything else. What's the difference? Up your game boys and stop your whingeing. I work 10 times harder than you for nowhere near the money.
As for the booing, can't say I agree or disagree, but I can remember watching games when Moore, Peters and Hurst were playing and if it was a poor performance the crowd would actually sing, "What a load of rubbish". It only seemed to make them up their game. Where have all the men gone?''
by Any Old Iron
07:30PM 19th Mar 2012
''Well said that man!''
06:27PM 19th Mar 2012
06:03PM 19th Mar 2012
''Absolutely and completely spot on. COYI.''
by Charles Flores
04:21PM 19th Mar 2012
''Great piece, Mr Walker. You got me goosepimples as I wait here in Malta for the opportunity to fly for a final showdown at Upton Park. Hammers fans everywhere, especially the regulars at the BG, should react in the same way. Genuine football support is not shown through booing or jeering, but through vociferous encouragement to a set of players who no doubt want as much success as well are all craving for.''
by Sharon Cross
03:58PM 19th Mar 2012
''A big resounding HEAR HEAR!
I am a season ticket holder at West Ham and am so fed up of the boo boys - I know the players earn the sort of money we can only dream about but we are supposed to be supporters so that's what we should do. It is unthinkable that we won't get out of this division now after being in the top two since the start. I don't need us to go up as champions and have always said that it doesn't matter if we finish second we just need to go up automatically.
Every single West Ham fan that visits the Boleyn between now and the end of the season needs to get behind the team. We need to make the Boleyn a place where other teams are scared to come and play NOT our own players. The crowd at times just make it so much easier for the opposition it's ridiculous. Everyone has a right to moan if they are not happy but that is surely for the walk home after the game - how anyone can call theirself a fan of a team and then proceed to boo them just baffles me.
Come on West Ham fans, let's all unite together behind the manager and the team to get ourselves out of the Championship - we can only do this together.''
03:52PM 19th Mar 2012
''I agree with everything you have said and that you have valid points to make. However I have to say that the last three home games really have been so dire that it is hard to sing when the players give you absolutely nothing to work with! (Doncaster for example where we did not have a shot at goal for 60 minutes after Vaz Te went off and only tried to score after they had equalised).
Away from home you have the hardcore, at home you have many people who are not core fans and if they are not entertained they aint coming back.
Allardyce's philosophy regarding football is well documented, the fans will not put up with it for ever.
All roads lead to Di Canio - he would be followed through thick and thin! Perhaps big Sam could stay on as defensive coach?''
03:52PM 19th Mar 2012
''Nicely articulated Paul. Cannot agree with you more!''
01:42PM 19th Mar 2012
''A really well balanced view, all is not lost, but it is going to be difficult. Injuries will play a big part, for us as well as for Reading and Southampton. So the players need to play to win. take the criticism of the fans, and respond by winning matches.
To not comment on the tactics may be a bridge too far for most fans, as they all believe that they know better than the manager, who should play where, and the tactics that should be employed. Everyone has a view from the newspapers, TV pundits, and fans. That leaves us with one remaining issue, the fans, all they want is for their team to win, most things will either be forgiven or forgotten if the team wins.
Let's hope that we start our winning streak tomorrow night, and it continues through the last 10 games, even if it comes as 1-0 wins.''
by Paolo Moore
01:17PM 19th Mar 2012
''Fantastic article - a great read.
I have to say I was fuming as I read Sam's article in the standard on Friday as he talked about the players becoming "frightened" of the home support. As you say, it is a small minority who are booing at the end and, with everyone else remaining silent, of course the booing will be heard.
You would struggle to find any fans across the country who would not be upset with four home draws in a row, especially against the mediocre teams we have played (the Saints aside).
You are spot on however, whether it's justified or not, we need to remove this element from the crowd and give the players and Sam no reason not to perform at UP.''
by Lee Byron
12:51PM 19th Mar 2012
''I agree about getting behind the team. The supporters are there to support, not moan and boo when it is not warranted.
I thought this was interesting considering the type of football we're playing this season:
"But I also believe players have pointed out that it is fine for the crowd to bawl out Bubbles before the game, but that when the game starts the stadium falls silent. Faye - and now Danny Collins - for example, have experienced something very different at Stoke."''
by Tell it how it is Charlie!
12:40PM 19th Mar 2012
''Come off it Mr. Walker. I knew someone who went to the Leeds match he reckoned it was like watching paint drying on a wall. Both Leeds and West Ham could have played until midnight and still wouldn´t have been able to score a goal from open play between them. Maynard and Cole up front, they could be a pretty potent strike force but they need time to gel. No width, no nothing. Fans want to see attacking football not negativity, especially at this level.
Even on Pravda´s own commentary (whufc) it stated that West Ham were at sixes and sevens against Doncaster in the second half. The midfielders are too alike. The fans are only going to get excited and make noise when there is some thing to get excited about. You have full backs that are too defensively minded that are the only source of potential width.
The West Ham way, is not the negative football way! Allardyce is employing the same tactics as Grant and Zola, both of those failed. To play the 451 you have to have width from your fullbacks to run up and down the line, there´s not much of that. Perhaps I should be West Ham boss, it´s pretty easy to see where the problems are.''
11:58AM 19th Mar 2012
''I could not agree more! Teams used to be scared of coming to the BG but now it seems all they have to do is have a good 10 minutes and that silences our famously loud crowd. Even if we found ourselves 2-0 down a few seasons ago that couldn't even silence our crowd. So keep behind the team for 90 minutes no matter what, that in itself could get us promoted!''
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