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Match of the Day - or is it the Muppet show?

Filed: Wednesday, 27th December 2017
By: Paul Walker

The question is, after another weekend of claret and blue fury, do we at West Ham have a persecution complex or does everybody just hate us?

Are we the perennial victims, always the ones on the wrong end of misfortune, or does every club go through this rage against the (FA) machine that seems to follow every match these days?

I look around at other clubs’ fans and do I see this constant battle with officialdom, incompetent referees and ‘biased’ media? Frankly, no, in my view. So everybody does hate us!

Last week I described the FA’s joke of a disciplinary system as ‘not fit for purpose,’ after the Manu Lanzini affair. But now, the sequel, ‘not fit for purpose II.‘ Step forward Match of the Day.

Now I have felt for a long time that this programme has been going down hill, with Gary Lineker’s demeanour suggesting he can‘t tell the difference between how to act in a crisp advert and how to address the country’s football viewers. All one big laugh, it seems.

MOtD used to be the voice of the game, and whether you liked him or not, Alan Hansen was a voice of reason and accuracy. I know there are some, Alex Ferguson for one, who loathed the Liverpool mafia that seemed to dominate football punditry on TV or radio. They used to get stuck into Manchester United with relish, so I always enjoyed the programme!

Even if Hansen was occasionally wrong. Remember "you won’t win anything with kids"? Fact is, he was right nine times out of ten with that remark, how was he to know that the United kids were the best of several generations to emerge from one youth team.

But now we have moderate ex-players, a showboating ‘look at me’ presenter and a string of young pundits who spout rubbish and worst of all, don’t know the laws of the game. It’s frequently said that players’ knowledge of the rules is generally poor, and now we can see it every Saturday on the Beeb.

To my knowledge there is no mention of intent in the law that tries to stop players kicking opponents in the head and endangering their lives, or punching them in the face. Nobody says it‘s ok if you are watching the ball, or sort of, didn‘t really mean it.

David Moyes is right that it’s a red card anywhere else in the world. Even Scotland!

Goals on Sunday, in my view, is a much better programme, with Chris Kamara, getting the stuff about the laws pretty much spot on every week. Maybe Kevin Kilbane and Danny Murphy could pay a bit more attention.

The debacle of Bournemouth is almost too dreadful to believe. What with a shocking referee in Robert Madley, and a linesman who cannot stand his ground when he knows he is right.

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Bobby Madley: incompetent

What was in Madley’s mind, nobody knows. I can only think that he was trying to be clever and insisting that Wilson did not touch the ball, following Nathan Ake’s header across goal and was therefore ‘not active’ and so ‘not offside.’ His linesman didn’t agree.

Madley has too much ‘previous’ with us to be trusted any longer. Six minutes that became seven added on time at Crystal Palace, two Bournemouth penalties in last season’s game given against us.

Respected ex-referees Graham Poll (“he cost West Ham three points”), Keith Hackett (“emphatically wrong, twice”) and then the excellent Dermot Gallagher, who reckons he should just have given the free-kick for offside and got on with the game, rather than turning it into comedy hour.

I watched all that wondering what would happen if it was Manchester United ,Chelsea or Arsenal who were on the wrong end of such incompetence. For sure we would still be seeing the analysis, wall to wall, with earnest pundits talking of millions and billions at stake, and calling for video technology.

They would not have been joking their way through MotD, disrespectfully dismissing the views of a ’lesser’ club and claiming that it was all ok in the end because Bournemouth deserved to win. Can you imagine Jose, Arsene and the like? Refereeing careers would be on the line.

There were rumours, well stronger than that, around Old Trafford that the Premier League and FA were informed that certain referees would not be welcome officiating Manchester United games.

Madley surely comes into the category for us, such is his back catalogue as well as Boxing Day’s nonsense. I would also suggest Kibane keeps his distance too.

Now I know from friends that he is a very likeable, articulate fella, who loves his young family. But that doesn‘t mean he makes a good pundit. For me, he fits into the category of recently retired players who are frightened to be critical of former friends and players generally.

It can be the only reason he thinks that Francis’s kick into Kouyate’s face wasn’t a red card. What was the difference between that and Sadio Mane’s red card for Liverpool early in the season?

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Sadio Mane was sent off in September for this challenge on Man City's Ederson Moraes

And how can Kilbane be so dismissive of the punch into Pedro Obiang’s face by Josh King? I think Kilbane wrote that off as ‘frustration.‘ Try that sort of frustration pal in a Dublin pub and see where it gets you.

And of course Kevin felt that Callum Wilson goal should have been awarded. Not that he was offside, or he handled the ball into the net. Minor points, those.

And then we have Murphy chortling away in the background. Seemingly we are not big enough to be treated with due respect.

This from a journeyman who was fortunate to play for Liverpool while Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and Steve McManaman were around. A player, so it is rumoured, that lets his wife chose what club he can join.

You know, it was the laughing and joking from these two muppets that annoyed me most, as if we didn’t rally matter so didn’t really deserve any respect.

Match of the Day put the knife into Slaven Bilic with all those meaningless stats about fitness and running, and probably went some way to getting him the sack. They also seem to have allowed Dele Alli at least two blatant dives without anyone from the FA doing anything about it.

Eat your heart out Manu! It’s three strikes before you are out when you play for a top club, not just the one misdemeanour for the rest.

There has been not a word from the FA about King’s punch, Alli’s two ’dives’, or - come to think of it - Mark Hughes bringing the game into disrepute by abusing and swearing at an opposing player as he came off the field. You can make it up if you are the FA.

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All this tended to overshadow the match, in which Moyes had the balls to drop Winston Reid and make James Collins captain. In Mark Noble’s absence that should have happened a while ago, Reid lacks leadership on the pitch and consistency, in my view. I have never been his greatest fan.

Moyes also was more than capable of castigating Michail Antonio for being so lacklustre against Newcastle and axing him too. Frankly, I bet if he’d found someone to replace Kouyate he would have done.

Have you noticed in the re-runs of the Newcastle goal scored by Mo Diame, that shows Kouyate allowing Diame to run past him from the centre circle without any attempt to track him, almost jogging back to the penalty area? I’d have dropped him for that alone.

So, onwards and upwards. It‘s Alan Pardew next, without a West Brom win to his name. I can hardly wait!

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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