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Vive la difference


Filed: Tuesday, 15th December 2015
By: Paul Walker


So exactly what is the difference now as West Ham struggle through their worst injury crisis since…well, last season…but do it with a smile on our faces?

So before any smart Alec comes on with the fact that we are worse off points and position wise now than we were at the same stage last term, let’s get it out of our system.

That smart Alec will probably be failed TV man Richard Keys, sneering on twitter and implying that his big mate Sam was hard done by.

Ok, last season at the 16 game stage we were four places higher than we are now with four more points. Four draws in a six match winless run like now would have had us all moaning. Not now, it seems.

Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Stoke makes the point, though. My match going pals--son and his mates--walked out of the Boleyn applauding the team, saying how good a game it was and genuinely exciting.

Considering we were missing six key men from the starting line-up a draw against an increasingly impressive Stoke team was very acceptable. But it was the manner of that draw and the way the game was played that impressed, not just the point won.

And this is where Keys and his Sam-loving mates will never get it. We really should ignore him, the abuse he gets when he makes snide remarks about West Ham is the oxygen he needs. This odious, sexist who has been an apologists for the murderous slave labour of his Qatar paymasters. I am just waiting for the next little outburst from his Doha bunker.

The difference was clear. Slav did not once take a backward step against Stoke. Every substitution was positive, Enner Valencia on for a flagging Alex Song, Nikica Jelavic for an equally tired Michail Antonio..not once a thought of ’respecting the point.’

And yes, it gave Stoke the chance to break out and almost win it. That we should have won the game ourselves in that last half hour suggests a draw was about right. What it did do was to produce an entertaining match.

In the previous two home games, draws with Everton and WBA, again all the substitutions were positive. Also the three substitutes used in the awful defeat at Watford. I will forgive Slav sending on Carl Jenkinson and Pedro Obiang at Manchester United, let’s not be silly now.

But you cannot see Slav picking a team like Sam did at Chelsea last Boxing Day, a team set-up not to lose and one that intentional left out players with home matches against WBA and Arsenal to follow. We never really recovered from that piece of defensive thinking.

So we are now getting something worth watching. That must also please the Davids, who we are now told are the second best club owners in the country. After Manchester City’s money-no-object owners, that is.

I always sense that there is a lot going on behind the scenes of this season. I do not think for one second the second best owners are telling Slav what team to pick. But I fancy he is in no doubt about what is wanted.

David Sullivan desperately wants Mauro Zarate to have a run in the side and to be a success, so he can prove a point to Sam, who it is clear would not play him because he was not his signing. Zarate , for me, has been the surprise of this term even if he still does not do much to protect defenders when not in possession,

But he is grasping his chance with Dimitri Payet injured long-term. Our second best owners also want to see us play the ball out from the back, even if it did cost us that calamity third goal at Spurs. Adrian’s roll out was poor and put James Tomkins under needless pressure. The end product of that was predictable.

I would have thought that when you are facing a high pressing team like Spurs, then the ’keeper should clear from his hands to get the ball well away, take opposing players out of the game and give the target man--sorry, I know that’s a banned word--the chance to win some sort of possession in our opponents’ half not ours. But then what do I know?

And , of course, the second best owners want some return from their vast investment in Andy Carroll. So don’t expect him to be sold any time soon. He is slowly getting match fit now, and did well at Old Trafford and against Stoke.

And despite all the rumours, why should be want to leave because he is highly unlikely to get a contract elsewhere like he has here? He has a new Essex-girl partner, a big pink house, a new baby and the love of his life has a nice little nails shop somewhere in the posh Essex suburbs. She is not going to want to move anywhere than means having to learn another language..like the north east!

That all said, it would be nice if the second best owners stopped prattling on about the Champions League and Europe. It is putting undue pressure on Bilic and the team. Our current expenditure and the FFP restrictions does not allow us anywhere near the Champions League party and the top four. It is just not going to happen.

Yep, Chelsea are having a bad time and Liverpool and Everton are below us. But that won’t last. And then there is Spurs, who I hate to admit, look a pretty decent side these days. We don’t have the fire-power to compete just yet. After the move to the Olympic Stadium maybe.

And that brings me round to the migration to Straford, and I’m sure you will all be delighted to know that me and my mates in the Bobby Moore lower have finally got our season tickets for next season. I have certainly grizzled on about it enough here.

Our interviews were last week, and I had to sit by the phone at home in Cheshire to wait for the call from our elected group leaders. An 11am interview in Stratford was never going to see me there in person, so the group idea was a bonus.

Hard to finger the club for that, they can hardly be expected to look at every address and than have a debate with the person as to when he can be make it.

And it went pretty well, I am told. But the fears I had were about right. No chance of upgrading to a view down the sides rather than at the ends, the ‘plus twos’ have seen to that. And we all had to upgrade to band three to get a comparable seat. I have since noticed a new phrase now appearing, ‘comparable seat at comparable prices.’ Thanks for that Karren.

It is fair to say that it is just a change of number, and where we are now sitting in band three is still cheaper than our current band four at the Boleyn. But it was not what we were told initially.

And it seems than the first few rows behind the goals are now branded as band four, I suppose because the view is just rubbish that low down. And it means that a third of the way up the seating in the lower tier, a more expensive band three ticket holder will sit right behind a cheaper band four fan, with the view obviously no different.

We are three rows from the back of the lower tier, just behind the left hand goal post and with the two aisle seats we have now. If you want band four prices, you are going to have to move to the far reaches of the upper tier, where you are probably nearer to the Gherkin than you are to the pitch.

But we are all pretty happy with what we were offered, and grateful for the research from one of our leaders, who attended rugby and athletics event at the OS and took lots of pictures of our potential seating positions. And he was proved right, so we have all seen for ourselves because you still cannot take pictures of the views offered at the meetings. Absolute nonsense, that.

And a lot of our close neighbours from the Boleyn are very near (you don’t get rid of us that easily). So the banter can continue. One guy did note that his seat is now a few rows in front of us, so he does not have to sit behind one of our number who spends a fair amount of time loudly abusing the visitor’s goalkeeper!

He seems to have a problem with ’fat’ goalkeepers and the size of their backsides.(Boaz Myhill is the worst , it seems)!I can only apologise.

So onwards and upwards. A few big names back soon and we may well have decent league position in our sights.

And Slav is proving to be a cute manager. On the weekend that the injury toll was at it’s worst, Slav got stuck into the old argument about our Chadwell Heath training ground. He blamed the pitches there for the injury toll and demanded we move early to Rush Green.

He is a lucky manager. Previously other managers and players have moaned about the outdated Chadwell Heath, but a least Slav had an alternative and he grabbed it. And of course we hear Sam praising him for that decision and moaning himself about the place.

In fact, only Winston Reid and Lanzini had suffered injuries in training from the six big names out. Valencia and Payet were kicked out of the game by Everton, Victor Moses did his hamstring at Old Trafford, Diafra Sakho hurt his thigh at Upton Park against West Brom. So it is not all down to the training pitches.

But Slav got action. Chadwell Heath is way below the standards in the Premier League. Chelsea have a state of the art premises in deepest Surrey rather than the old windswept field alongside the M4 at Harlington, where players had to book airport hotel rooms nearby for a shower!

Spurs have new facilities, Arsenal’s are excellent while Manchester City have built an amazing campus in east Manchester. Neighbours United have top notch stuff at Carrington rather than the old Cliff while Everton have also built a very impressive new set-up near Liverpool airport. Stoke City also have a new place.

We have been lagging behind. It’s hard to blame the second best owners, at least they have been doing something, although it is now several years since the old Fords sports ground was bought, it really should have been finished by now.

The task for Slav is now not to worry about being a little behind our position from last term, but to ensure there is no criminal collapse in form like last term. Sam, I see, is re-writing history and blaming it all on injuries. What rubbish.

We now know, because Ian Hendon has told us, that everyone knew Sam wasn’t going to be re-employed last January and the man himself was never going to sign a new deal.

All that nonsense from the Davids about a new contract depending on the final dozen games! It was never going to happen and Sam just allowed things to drift…just like it seems is happening at Sunderland!

Oh, and one more thing about the second best owners and one of the brothers Grimm! Please stop giving our opponents chapter and verse about our injuries and when players may be about to return.

I am amazed Slav permits this. Can you imagine the uproar if ,say, Roman starting tweeting about Chelsea injuries, or Sir Alex’s reaction if a Manchester United owner did the same thing. Or even if Yanks started talking about Jurgen Klopp’s players in that way. It is very unprofessional.

Slav may well want to keep opponents guessing about his team selection. Ferguson used to tell bare faced lies to the media every Friday on the subject. Now days every scrap of information that can be gathered about a team’s opponents is very useful, so why give stuff to rivals on a plate.

The interesting point about Lanzini’s injury ahead of the excellent point at Old Trafford--it should have been three and they should have been down to nine men, anyway--was the surprise.

Nobody knew about the injury until the teams were announced, and it must have caused Louis van Gaal to change his tactics…it does not take much to confuse him, does it! So lets keep our team and injury information to ourselves and out of the twittering of David Gold or Sullivan’s lad.


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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