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Agony of the long dance of death


Filed: Monday, 25th September 2017
By: Paul Walker


IT had to be THEM, didn’t it, the club we all dislike the most who were able to drive another nail into Slaven Bilic’s coffin.

The club that darling Karren wants to win the league…I know, you can’t make it up. If Lady Brady really wants to see Spurs win the title then she has not one ounce of understanding about what makes us tick, who we are, what we are. Any real knowledge of our history.

Put it this way Baroness, if you were, say, an Arsenal fan from birth, would you want Spurs to win the title. Of course not, so why on earth do you think as West Ham’s vice chairman you can even suggest that you would like them to become champions.

Now I have friends who are Spurs fans, they are surprisingly nice people and I do not wish them any ill feelings. Blimey, I actually took one Spurs fan on holiday with us once, he was my son’s mate and soon to be his best man. I even tolerated his Spurs shirt on a Spanish beach!

Football is our entertainment, a sport, a passion, but I never use the word ‘hate’ when applying to other clubs and other fans. As grown ups surely we are above that.

But I don’t want them to win a raffle, let alone the title. I am sure I am in a massive majority of our 50,000 plus fans who make what it seems is an increasingly irksome trek to the LS these days, if the pictures of massive queues at the security checkpoints are to be believed.

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Yes, Spurs play some lovely football and have some great players. But win the title? I don’t think so Karren, have you so easily forgotten having your phone hacked by private investigators employed by Spurs? Wash your mouth out! OK, already off my point, but it had to be said.

The sad bit about losing on Saturday was that the whole ‘will he go, won’t he go’ saga was jacked up a notch to ‘when’ he goes. I recall calling it the long goodbye recently, as all these drawn out debates only have one ending.

Now we are witnessing the predictable dance of death as both sides move onto the next stage. In fact, this time Slav moved it on himself.

Not just because of the nonsense of who replaced Michail Antonio--even I could not fathom that, but more his weary reaction to press scrutiny, talking about turning a page and there not being any going back.

There are two sorts of press conferences after games. One for the people needing immediate quotes, TV, radio, the Sunday papers and agencies. Then a second one, for just the Monday morning papers, takes a more considered view.

It is in this one that Slav revealed more. Quotes like “Once that’s opened (the page) it basically doesn’t stop. Game by game, or two games by two games, it’s the way it is in modern football. Once you open that page….”

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A day later we are being told elsewhere that the board have already decided his contract will not be renewed next summer, the players know, he knows and it’s just a matter of time. Be that as it may, the inevitability seems ominous.

And now we have another week of ‘who takes over’, with the club saying they have no list and are not talking to anyone and there is no appetite for change. Without wishing any further distress on Bilic, I would be stunned if our board do not have a list and are not making contingency plans. It’s almost a dereliction of duty to do anything else.

And it’s no surprise that names start to appear again. This time a couple of Germans, Thomas Tuchel, who is out of work having been sacked by Borussia Dortmund in the summer, and Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri, who has a £7m release clause. Those names came from a story by Alan Nixon in the Sunday Sun.

Nixon has been working the transfer market for 40 years in the north west, his stories are respected after building up a huge book of phone numbers. Why should he make stuff up?

I don‘t doubt for a minute that an agent has tipped him off, maybe West Ham have asked a few people to do some ground work. Why not? Then they can easily say they have not spoken to anyone. It‘s all part of the game, the long dance of death, and Slav will know all about it.
 
Mind you, can you see David Sullivan wanting to pay out £7m when he can get someone like Tuchel for nothing? Tuchel’s name came up twice in the summer, when first Arsenal were considering axing Arsene Wenger and then when Chelsea were having a lot of hassle with Antonio Conte.

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Tuchel’s name was trailed extensively for both jobs, his German agent Olaf Meinking is certainly working hard to get his man back into employment.
 
So now we have another of those ‘lose and you're out’ games. My learned friend on this site , one HHS, mentioned recently that there were half a dozen of those such occasions last season, we have already had one this term--and we managed to beat Huddersfield--while we now move on to Swansea’s visit to the Stratford fish bowl..another acid test (sorry, poor taste that, something needs to be done about these scumbags).

There is, of course, a point when the owners have to protect their investment, you know, like they did with Avram Grant, who should have been sacked in the January but was kept on to take us down and axed in the bowels of Wigan’s ground. That saved us paying the redundo, good thinking. They did the same thing with Sam and no doubt would rather Bilic got to the end of his contract, too.

But time is pressing. We are being left behind in the Premier League, having started with those three away games. Games last season (if you substitute relegated Middlesbrough’s results for promoted Newcastle’s--just for arguments sake) that we picked up seven points from. And we also beat Spurs, so that’s ten points down the tubes already compared to the last campaign.

This cannot go on, with Slaven’s every move, every decision, every substitution, being picked apart by the twitter twerps, who know everything, of course. Slav didn’t help himself with that nonsensical decision to replaced the injured Antonio with Andy Carroll, and then claim he did it to maintain the system.

For the first half hour we had been marginally the better side. Three mobile, quick, strikers attacking Spurs’ back line was paying off. Then Carroll comes on, slows everything down, we have a lamp-post to aim at and he makes it worse by giving Spurs two goals with really rubbish play, I mean, you tell kids not to pass the ball across the face of their defence.

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But I feel Carroll has become something of a law unto himself, a bit of a myth really when considering his importance to the side. This, for me, goes back to January when the Times--not known for fabrication--ran a story saying Sullivan had decided Carroll could be sold and that Mark Curtis, Sam’s big mate, had been given the go-ahead to find Andy a club in China. Nobody denied a word of that.

Since then Carroll has had something of a cavalier attitude. One report on Sunday suggested that this season he has strolled on, found a nice, quiet piece of grass in midfield to put down his towel on, and from then on just hung around waiting for the ball to drop out of the sky. About right that.

He hasn’t scored since April, unless you count his missus, and makes so many rash, hit and hope decisions, he is almost a liability. I know he has the talent and have always supported him, but we are now so one-dimensional when he plays, it‘s embarrassing. And Spurs just took full advantage.

But we are where we are. From the moment Harry Kane scored his first, to the moment the third went in, we were a mess. Our tempo dropped, ball retention was non-existent and Spurs were on the verge of a runaway mauling that would have seen Slav sacked on the spot.

To our credit we hit back, gave it everything and could have got a draw if that daft referee, Michael Oliver, had seen the blatant push on Carroll’s back. The same sort of decision that cost us a point at Southampton when Pablo Zabaleta was penalised for an identical offence.

Mr. Oliver also missed Marko Arnautovic having his shirt pulled in the first-half when clear in the box, an incident highlighted on Sky but totally ignored by Match of the Day. What do you expect, we are not Manchester United for heaven’s sake.

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It took me a long while to get over Saturday’s defeat, I am very grumpy on Sundays…even more than usual my good lady commented. But the refereeing mistakes start to really grate, as does the amount of fouling that goes on.

Spurs were penalised 20 times, more than anyone else against us this season. Frankly I was surprised Serge Aurier lasted until half-time.

This term the stats show referees are declaring open season on us. In eight matches opponents have been penalised a total of 129 times, our offences are just 65 fouls. In the Premier League it’s 103 to 51.

If that was Manchester United, Man City, Liverpool - you get the point - there would be an outcry. But as Zabaleta is discovering, it’s a very different ball game now he’s out of the top six.

OK, got that off my chest. There’s more pressing issues, Slav’s longevity in east London for a start, and whether Sullivan will axe him soon at a cost of around £3m in compo, or wait and hope we survive.

Just make sure you win the next game, Slav. And make sure you don’t read the experts on twitter, the ones who see about five minutes of highlights and believe they know it all.


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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