Filed: Tuesday, 14th March 2017
By: John Courtney
What to write for a post that may or may not be published? This is new to me and Iím never short of a word or 100 to say when asked my opinion in any walk of life, but you learn to pick and choose your moments as you get older.
Is it growing up? Who knows. I always said I never want to grow up and that being silly and childish is what keeps you feeling young.
I work with an AC Milan/Chelsea fan, an Ipswich fan (who I secretly have a soft spot for) and a Spurs fan (enough said, although he is one of the rare non-irritating sort).
When I asked each of them if they had to write an article on their team, what would it be about Mr Italian shrugged and went for an espresso. Mr Ipswich, boring football under McCarthy (weíve been there) and Mr Spurs, 40 years of hurt (you see, it is being inferior to Arsenal whatever they say). So it brings me to me and what would I write about?
We all have opinions about our club and the way itís being run. The new gaff, Upton Park (I refuse to call it the The Boleyn), new fans, old fans, stand up, sit downÖthe list could go on forever. What struck me before the Chelsea game, is what team are they?
They are certainly not the Chelsea who were on a par with us until the late 90s, winning the odd Cup and flirting with relegation in the 80s, actually being relegated and Stamford bridge generally being a toilet (putting it politely). Chelsea are that club now who buy players to stop other clubs getting them.
Yes thatís right, a player moves there to sit on the bench and not play! (Are you reading this, Michy Batshuayi Tunga? No?) Can you think of any other profession that would happen in? (No Iím struggling too.) But itís their prerogative, they can do what they like (apparently) with their Russian sugar-daddy's money.
We on the other hand have G&S to contend with. Our saviours! David Gold seems like a nice old Granddad, who you humour and listen to tell those repetitive stories, because he is nice, not a bad bone in his body and probably says too much.
Mr Sullivan is the man who I cannot understand. A billionaire, a successful businessman who has done very well. But why oh why does he open his mouth and tell the world what he is going to do? Why? Because he is going to do nothing of the sort.
He is a businessman and business comes first. He wants bums on seats. Paying customers and what better way to sell tickets than promising the earth? I actually believed we were going to buy Alexandre Lacazette last season.
Yup the hottest striker in Europe was going to sign for us, my club little old West Ham and with Payet too! (We know how that ended up.) Yet we ended up with possibly the worst player Iíve ever seen in a West Ham shirt (sorry Razor Ruddock/fill in as applicable) - step forward, Mr Zaza.
His sons tweet too much. We all do. But things West Ham, no! Absolutely not. I cringe when I read them, I want to curl up and die when I see some of them. But that is modern day West Ham, that is what we all have signed up for.
The question is, do I want us being taken over by Red Bull or some rich Qataris ahead of their 2022 World Cup? Some days, absolutely - but then we are just like Chelsea. No identity, a toy for the prawn sandwich brigade when they are not watching Fulham or six nations rugby.
So what do we actually want from West Ham? Last season was everything in a nutshell and in over 30 years of being a fan, was my favourite ever campaign. Think about it, everything about it was magical, we were messing with the big boys and the football we played was fabulous. It wasnít just Payet, it was everyone.
I would argue that for the last 10 games, we were in fact too reliant on him. The Chelsea game, Man United, Liverpool, Man City; we went with expectations high and were going to give whoever rocked up a bloody good game - and we did.
So I think our expectations were probably unrealistic this season (mine included). Cast your mind back to that first day of our season in the Championship (Cardiff at home, 1-0 loss). If you have had offered us this situation now weíd have all ripped your arm off.
Even the season in the Championship was really enjoyable. (Something Sunderland need to do to come good again. Learning how to be a team and win again.) But with success comes expectation and if we are all not 4Ė0 up in 20 minutes against this lot in the bottom half then some people around me want Slav hung drawn and quartered! Itís unrealistic.
Anyone can beat anyone on their day and yes, we donít help ourselves sometimes, but you know what? I donít think any one of us could do a better job. So why do we do it? Iíve no idea.
My friends who I sit with, the whole West Ham fan base all want the same thing, our team to win, fight for the shirt and hopefully play well. (Invariably we donít or we out-West Ham ourselves.) Thinking about last season, I wouldnít swap it for anyone elseís. Because itís what makes us great. Itís what makes us West Ham. It was our season. No, we didnít win anything, but that didnít matter to me.
So if we have lost our identity a little, imagine what it will be like under different owners and a new stadium!? I know Chelsea fans who preferred it when they were shit and Man City fans that feel the same. But do we want a taste of the top table? We have to ask ourselves that.
I think there is room for both - an easy solution. Current owners - actions speak louder than words, donít talk about it, do it! Mr Sullivan, get your sons off twitter! Slav, play a right back, give Noble his Kouyate back. Aaron, Dimitri isnít in front of you any more, calm down and do your day job. Andy, please stay fit, Darren/Adrian do the simple things right.
I honestly believe we have the makings a of a decent team and if we played players on form and in position, Iíve no doubt we could push on. Reece Burke/Oxford, are amazing prospects, let us play them. That is how you find out if they are good enough. (Think about John Stones for a moment.) Sensible well thought out additions, quality not quantity!
As for the ground, a singing section, stewards who care and can actually do a job. Programmes sold inside, enough beers to hand out to the masses at half time rather than wait for an eternity, simple things done well make such a difference. (And while we are at it, TFL letting more than 30 people in a DLR station too!)
As for the club, treat the supporters like family, answer emails and queries, donít just shrug your shoulders. You want our money, listen to us.
There were so many things I wanted to say in this post but ultimately I want to leave that ground at 5pm on a Saturday - win, lose or draw - and come home with an experience like we used to. I want to bottle last season and open when Iím feeling low. (This week, anyone?)
Seeing Upton Park being demolished is like a snuff movie that I cannot help but look at. I wish I didnít. I left that night in May last year and we were done. It was the send-off we all wanted.
We cannot look back, we need to move forward. Everyone needs to do their part and after this season of mediocrity (back to the West Ham I know and love) Iím ready to. The question you have to ask yourself is, are you?
Not because I love everything currently about the club, I do not. However I think the club is in need of some TLC right now so how about all of us pull together in the right direction to make it what we know it can be and should be? It's not hard. Itís now time for EVERYONE to move forward.
It may sound like waffle, but itís my waffle. 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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