Filed: Wednesday, 11th July 2012
By: Staff Writer
15 years ago this month, KUMB.com - then known simply as 'Knees up Mother Brown' - took it's first tentative steps on an embryonic world wide web. To celebrate this inauspicious occasion we will be reproducing some of the most memorable articles we've published over the years, ahead of the new 2012/13 Premier League campaign.
For today's dip into the KUMB archives we're going back to our sixth season in business, the 2002/03 campaign.
Glenn Roeder, in his second season as manager has overseen a disastrous campaign. Despite having taken West Ham to seventh spot in the Premiership in his first season at the club (2001/02) - and having delivered a major improvement in form since January - the Hammers are on the precipice, staring relegation in the face.
Roeder's shocking collapse moments after West Ham's 1-0 win over Middlesbrough - the result of a previously unnoticed brain tumour - paved the way for Trevor Brooking to step in as caretaker manager for the final three games of the season. Having secured wins in the first two - against Man City and Chelsea - East Stand Martin waxes lyrical about the Irons' chances of staying up on the final day but makes no bones about who he feels is ultimately responsible for the situation...
A message to the Chairman
By East Stand Martin
First published 4th May 2003
Saturday’s fantastic game against the blue enemy will go down in the annals of West Ham history. Those terrible games at home against West Brom, Man City (bore draw of the century), Birmingham, Leeds (the give away of the century) and Oldham just faded into the distance.
Before this game I was keen to see us going for broke with three up front. I wanted to start with the Italian with Fredi coming off the bench, but I reckon Trev got it about right as I can’t think of another occasion this year where Fredi gave as much as he did on Saturday. That is not to deride any of the others on the pitch, who gave everything.
Trevor, like his England playing partner of old, Kevin Keegan seems to favour adventure. He strikes you as a bit of a conservative character does Trev, but in charge of the team, he’s thrown caution to the wind. Where might we be at this point if we had adopted the classic Keegan “let’s score more than them” approach? I don’t think we’d have been down where we are today. We might have had a lot more enjoyment as well. This is the West Ham way, not this anodyne long ball nonsense that has characterised this season.
But my friends, I was blubbering along with Paolo at the end of the game. Hardly a classic goal, and with more than a hint of offside, but if that is the last goal he ever scores in the claret and blue, I will treasure it for years to come. It seems almost inconceivable that we will not see him at Upton Park again. I know he’s a difficult character and must be a nightmare to manage, but when can you truly say there has been such an entertainer with blistering passion at our club? It’s a travesty that it looks like he’s on his way, when he still has much to offer.
There may be still time to do something about it. It’s over to you now Mr Brown. I read your piece in Saturday’s programme with some interest, although I have got to say that it rankles with me a great deal that the only time you stick your head above the parapet is when you’re looking to me and everybody else to renew our season tickets. I understand why you need to get us to stick with the club, but do you really think that your appeal is at all convincing when you only deign to talk to me in the programme and in a letter on the day of the last home game of the season?
I did note some humility it what you wrote, but it was grudging. “With the benefit of hindsight, one could argue that the board might have acted differently and I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to all of our supporters for this misjudgement.” Mea Culpa. Mea maxima culpa. This is tantamount to saying that ONLY after the event does Mr Brown accept he got it wrong.
Was it not obvious that no spending at all during last year’s close season was likely to lead to trouble? Did you not get the slightest feeling that if you allow our competitors to steel a march, we would face problems? Did you not suspect that an untested and inexperienced manager (not coach) would flounder if left without an injection of new talent? Did you not suspect that we were taking a huge risk in not spending a penny on transfers while everybody else was digging into the coffers?
John Maynard Keynes would have recognised the problem. His economic theory was based on the idea that “you have to spend money to make money”. His view was that the last thing to do when you were in recession was to tighten the belt further. As Mr Brown put it in the programme “Whilst belt tightening should help us to cope with the massive reduction in revenue it will probably have been a cause of that relegation”.
Keynes couldn't have put it better himself. In a nutshell, I’m not convinced that you know what you’re doing, my friend. I don’t trust your business sense.
I’m still hopeful that a miracle can happen next Sunday and we can survive. This is my heart speaking and not my head. I have been saying for several months now that Bolton will stay up and the odds look that way, given their home record. I have every confidence that we will beat Birmingham, but ‘Boro looked very poor the other week at Upton Park, and I reckon that JJ Okocha has something more to say this season.
So, if the drop does happen, it is time for you Mr Brown to make amends. You dangle a bit of hope in your programme message when you say that “We will do our utmost to retain as strong a playing squad as possible in order to have the best possible chance of immediately returning to the Premier League.”
Well, actions speak louder than words, my friend. Here’s what I expect from you if you want to achieve redemption:
1. The retention of the following players: Defoe, Cole, Carrick, Johnson. This is non-negotiable;
2. Sell Sinclair, James and Kanoute to make up for the ‘triple whammy’ (£15-20 million in lost TV revenue; reduced season ticket revenue and a 3% loss of gate receipts to the Nationwide League);
3. A clear and decisive lead on the managerial position – I have never been one for kicking a man when he’s down and I sincerely hope for a full recovery for Glenn Roeder, but he is not the man to lead us out of the Nationwide. There is a real danger that if you give him that chance, he will do a John Gregory and the players that I hope you retain at 1. above will have to be sold in the January 2004 transfer window;
4. This is a big ask for you. If you can find your way to keeping the Italian then we would all be grateful. But if you ask me if 1. is the priority, then 1. MUST BE the priority, as much as I love Paolo and all of his works.
I was struck by the way you concluded your remarks, my friend. "I know we sometimes test your patience and for that I once again apologise, but collectively we do have a Club that is very special". Never a truer word spoken, but remember that our patience is going to be tested severely if you compound the mistakes of the last season. We’re looking for you to show some leadership. Is that too much to ask?
2002/03 Fact File
Manager: Glenn Roeder
Final Position: 18th (relegated)
Record: Won 10, Drew 12, Lost 16
Goals: For 42, Against 59 (GD -17)
FA Cup: Fourth Round - lost 6-0 to Man Utd (a)
League Cup: Third Round - lost 1-0 to Oldham (h)
Biggest Win: West Ham Utd 2-0 Tottenham (March 2003)
Biggest Defeat: Man Utd 6-0 West Ham Utd (Jan 2003)
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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