Filed: Wednesday, 17th September 2014
By: Paul Walker
Well, if this is the brave new world we have been craving, bring it on, even if I wonder whether my blood pressure can stand the strain.
To see a West Ham side still going for it at Hull in the last seconds, still throwing men forward, was a joy to watch.
And we should have won. We had 60 per cent possession, vastly more chances, forced their íkeeper into a string of saves and somehow Michael Dawson managed to chest (or was it his upper arm?) Enner Valenciaís late header onto the bar.
But although there has been praise all round, and everyone just loved the excitement of it all (even Sky, who had to stop their love-in with over Manchester United for one evening) Sam has not been slow to point out the drawbacks of attacking like that.
We gave away a daft goal, and defenders squandered possession far too easily and too often. But when you throw caution to the wind, with attacking full-backs and surging midfield runs, then defenders are going to be left exposed, left to fend for themselves.
My fear is that we do not have the quality of defenders to leave them isolated, one on one, and having to play their way out of problems. Kamikaze defending, comedy defending and a backline seemingly always seconds from disaster is a worry for us all, and Sam knows it.
Deep down, Sam is aware of all this, but he has owners who keep tweeting about how good Mauro Zarate is, and how much they canít wait to see Ravel Morrison in the team.
I am a great believer in owners who just run the club and work out the budgets, leaving managers to spend it and pick the team. Those areas have become clouded over recent months because of the pressure on the owners from the fans to make changes at the top.
What we have been witnessing is a non-to-subtle war of words at the club between manager and owners. Too much point scoring from everyone, I feel.
James Tomkins is a bright young lad, strong and willing, but I donít want him carrying the ball out of defence! And is it just me who thinks Winston Reid is over-rated. Someone is telling him he is worth £80,000 a week. Like hell he is!
Just ask yourself why Arsenal in the end didnít come in with a bid or why nobody else of the big boys tried to nick him in the transfer window? But now he has an agent moaning about the style of football his client is having to play (didnít Ravel Morrisonís agent make some similar remarks after Chelsea away last season?).
Reidís people are telling their man he is worth more than the £60,000 we are offering the Kiwi for a new contract.
Frankly I would hope we say no. His transfer value has diminished steadily anyway as his contract runs down, so there is not much value left in him now. James Collins is braver if not injury prone, and we do have young Reece Burke around, while Joey OíBrien, Alex Song and Cheikhou Kouyate can all play centre-back in a crisis.
I would rather we started looking around for another young centre-back to buy in January, and while we are at it, there is still a need for a new goalkeeper while we wait to see if Sam Howes is going to maintain his progress from the Academy ranks.
Maybe this sounds like a lot of worrying about nothing, it was certainly fun at Hull. But my fear is that if we keeping playing in such a fashion, we will get picked off over and over again.
But, I have to admit to enjoying the spectacle, if not heart attack material every time Guy Demel tries to turn, Tomkins tries to pass the ball and Reid is hit by those bouts of indecision. In all this Aaron Creswell is a breath of fresh air, a real little gem from the lower divisions.
You all havenít heard much from me for a while (thank heaven, I hear some say! )because I find it impossible to write anything constructive while the transfer window is open and before the new players have bedded in, we have got over the international break, and the show is really on the road.
So much hot air and nonsense is spouted about transfers, in and out. A window can be a disaster one minute and a success the next. For me, us signing Alex Song made the summer a real success.
It has been our best window since we were promoted, nine new men in and 14 or more gone or on loan, £34m spent (not all at once it must be said) and a higher quality of new faces. Enner Valencia will be a true star if he can score more goals like the amazing cracker at Hull, and Diafra Sakho is big, strong, willing and going to be a real handful.
Who bought themÖSam or David Sullivan (with Barry Silkman at his hip), now doesnít matter. The changes have been made and this is our best squad in depth and variety for a very long time.
But the defending must improve. We cannot keep conceding goals like this. Spursí winner was a poor defensive error all round, Crystal Palace caught us badly on the break and Southampton - we lets try to forget that, Sam is right. Abysmal.
OK, so it was only a point at Hull, and of course Mo Diame just had to score, but compare Mondayís match with the last time these two sides met. That , of course, was last seasonís infamous clash at the Boleyn when BFS shut up shop against ten-man Hull to protect a 2-1 victory.
He got it in the neck that night from the West Ham faithful and responded with that somewhat indelicate cupped hand around his ear in defiance as the boos rained down on him. It was a horrible performance at a horrible time for the club as we were desperately searching for points to avoid the drop.
Four wins on the bounce in February had been followed by three straight defeats. It was not a pretty sight, and Sam obviously felt results and points were more important than anything else.
But the arguments about our style reached a new level since then and has never stopped, culminating in that highly public showdown between a manager who gets results any which way he can, and owners who needed to sell season tickets.
Hence the somewhat fanciful ílistí of instructions that followed. Now I am sure that Sam made the point very clearly at the time that if they wanted players who could play with flair and style, they had to pay for them because the budget until that point had not allowed us to even begin to compete for that level of talent. Show me the money was probably the way Sam phrased it.
And that is what has happened. But now comes the next moan (it wouldnít be me otherwise). Football is becoming very depressing these days. Financial Fair Play is anything but.
Harry Redknapp talks a lot of tosh sometimes, but he is good at fifth form accounting (surely you all remember the court case!) His views this week that FFP is a disaster is about right.
Next up we face Liverpool and Manchester United, two teams who collectively have spent almost £300m on new players, and thatís not counting vast wages. The new regulations allow them to do that, but they are not fair.
Liverpool have debts of over £100m, Unitedís debt is down to the £300m mark, and I thought FFP was around to stop clubs sinking into debt, however it is being ícoveredí by rich owners and vast commercial wealth converted into transfer budgets.
We have spent more than we have ever done, and we havenít even put a scratch on the big boys because FFP protects the powerful and rich and allows them to maintain their position. No more can a Chelsea or Manchester City break into the big boysí gang. And we wonít be able to either when we go to the Olympic Stadium, but that is a whole scenario that will unfold in months to come.
Just for now, it was actually a pleasure to sit and watch us on TV producing entertainment. I doubt we will play the same way against Liverpool or Man United, games nobody expects us to get anything from.
But letís hope this new-look squad gels quickly and when the games with QPR, Burnley, Stoke, Aston Villa, Newcastle, WBA, Swansea, Sunderland and Leicester come around before Christmas we are in the right form and happy with our system to glean the points to help make this a season of pleasure rather than pain. 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.
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