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My faith restored

Filed: Tuesday, 20th March 2012
By: Paul Walker

Sometimes watching at the Boleyn this season, I have been left wondering whether we are all in this together, and fully understand the financial implications of failure to win promotion.

But after the strong reaction to my piece about the final weeks of the season, my faith has been restored in my fellow Hammers.

And I feel I must reply to the fans who have bothered to comment on KUMB. I don't think I have ever had such a reaction to anything I have written about football in over 40 years of journalism and now my less than sedate retirement.

It is good to feel that people do agree with my views. The greater good now is the club's return to the top flight, whether we like big Sam's tactics or not, and whether we feel that players should be able to cope with complaining fans.

But my experience of professional footballers is that they will find any excuse possible not to take blame on their own shoulders. The shameful way a few players left us last summer in the wake of relegation, some failing to see the connection between their own poor displays and us going down, sadly did not surprise me.

But my view that now is not the time to keep hounding the manager and players seems to have struck a cord. We are not going to change the way we play at this stage, I don't believe we have the quality of player needed to produce a controlled passing game. That can be addressed when, not if, we go up and have cash from the Premier League to play with.

Our desire for a good quality striker is a point in issue. The fanciful stuff about Anelka, Tevez and Torres only raised fans' hopes when really the chances of them signing are minimal.

We do not really have the money to compete for top players these days, despite the spin that comes out of the club. In the end we took John Carew (clearly carrying injures at Villa) and youngsters Sam Baldock and Nicky Maynard, at a combined fee of something like Ģ5m. That shows what part of the market we are operating in.

So in some ways the style Allardyce uses reflects the level of players we have. At Bolton, when he did have some money, he signed Anelka, Gary Speed and several play making attacking players. He was able to mix and match, but still had the label of a long-ball manager.

Here and now, he won't change, so what is the point with so much at stake, of complaining? Someone suggested that I hadn't really understood what went on at Leeds. But I did describe it as an undistinguished game, and not pretty, so I don't really understand that reaction.

It was also suggested that Henri Lansbury and Ravel Morrison should be used from the start. Lansbury, though, has disappointed me because he drifts out of games too often. Morrison got his first taste at Leeds and struggled to get into the game.

That was not surprising given he has barely played a serious match in months (he was hardly popular at Old Trafford amoungst the coaching staff) and does not, I feel, have the confidence and stature yet to control midfield at this level and intensity. I hope I will be proved wrong here, because I know many Man Utd fans who are furious the lad has been sold.

A mate of mine went to every Man Utd reserve game just to see the lad play, such was his ability. He really is something special. Maybe in a home match he could be risked, I really hope he makes it here because there are people around Old Trafford who reckon that had the lad not gone wildly off the rails (which is why Fergie gave up on him) he would be knocking on the door of the full England team by now.

So we have what we have. Morrison may well be risked soon, I really hope so and hope even more that it works because it will be the making of the lad now he is away from the south Manchester gangs.

So, back to the fans. I just hope we can find it in ourselves to give it everything from now on, to encourage when things go wrong and not give anyone the chance to say at the end that things were our fault. COYI.

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 Calvin
08:03AM 25th Mar 2012
''I personally feel that what is effective about Sam's team is the organisation, the discipline. What is not effective is our midfield and the team as a whole at producing and putting away chances. I fail to see why we can't maintain the overall very well organised side we have whilst also working at our possession play and opening sides up.

At the end of the day we do have many Premier League-quality players, more than able to get the ball down and play a bit; we're not going to be Barca, but then who is?

Why not have some compromise? For the good of the team, not just the fans. At the moment Sam's tactics are not effective if a team of our quality isn't winning most weeks.''

by wes cullinane
07:22PM 20th Mar 2012
''Good post but you say Morrison struggled to get in the game? Have you ever played football and come on as a sub that late in a game and even worse to a team playing totally NEGATIVE football? Give him and Lansbury more time and they will deliver .

Also is Sam thinking about that lovely bonus? He tried to close the game down at one-nil up at home against a terrible Doncaster team by bringing O'Neil on and he got what he deserved. Disgusting!''

by ironsmith
07:21PM 20th Mar 2012
''Having been a West Ham fan for 52 years now, my first trip to the Boleyn being for an FA cup replay against Huddersfield Town in January 1960 (lost about 5-0 but they did have Denis Law), I have been horrified by the poor attitude of some minority West Ham fans. How can you boo a side that is close to the top of the league, in a great position to be promoted, probably the most feared and respected team in the division and unbeaten in eight games?

They say you have to be mad to support the Hammers. I will excuse those of small brain power who unjustifiably boo the team who are probably among the best supported teams in the country in the hope they will see sense. They must be mad!?

Big Sam is doing a great job and we should concentrate on helping him over the finishing line!''

by webbo
04:06PM 20th Mar 2012
''I will not boo the team myself but I can understand those that do. As a fan who looks forward to every game we play, it can be crushing to experience such disappointment week in, week out. What other way do fans have to make their frustrations known to players and manager?

I agree that the fans have to give 100% support to the team, but the players have to meet us halfway.''

by Tell it how it is Charlie!
02:02PM 20th Mar 2012
''Mr. Walker, you have quoted your "friend" in the past, Alan Green, who stated "he wouldnīt pay to watch Allardyce, rubbish". He plays a system that the players donīt understand, itīs why Wenger, brings many of his players through the youth team, they learn at an early age this diamond formation, the diamond is meant to move but it just remains static in the middle with West Ham. Arsenal always used to be a joy to watch when they came to the Boleyn, because of the one touch but there are always players supporting one another even on wing play.

What I donīt understand is why players cannot be versatile (perhaps a question for Tony Carr)? Why donīt players like playing out wide? Why do players only like playing in one position?

Itīs all so good and well writing a Winston Churchill-type article, but if the football being played at Upton Park would bore the leg of a Greek donkey it's very difficult to see how a positive atmosphere will return to the Boleyn. A good team plays well home and away. I only mentioned Ravel Morrison, because the midfield is desperately crying out for some thing a bit different. At the moment you have a midfield that is too alike. Even young Pottsy for 25 mins at the end?''

by Bobbie Evans
01:24PM 20th Mar 2012
''At the end of the day, for the price of Carew, Piqman and Ilunga (or what ever his name was) we could have had Shane Long who was happy to come to the Hammers. Yes he is only just back from injury BUT the damaged he would have caused before than. We probably be about 10 points clear.''

by PrinceH
01:15PM 20th Mar 2012
''"Morrison got his first taste at Leeds and struggled to get into the game." How can you say that? The kid got ten minutes...''

by Adie64
12:44PM 20th Mar 2012
''Very well put mate, every time we play anyone at home the first thing they say is keep them quiet for the first twenty minutes then the fans will turn on them.
Our away support is fantastic, they get behind the team even if they are 1-0 down driving them on to come back.
We have a great amount of supporters every game but that's not a good thing if they are on the players backs.

Come on, let's roar the team on to promotion and give the away team the hostility not ours. The Boleyn can still be intimidating to the opposition.''

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