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Memories of days like these


Filed: Thursday, 18th January 2018
By: Paul Walker


It’s about time to be positive… and yes, I know that’s the last thing you expected to hear from me after such a long time being a cynical old bugger where West Ham are concerned.

But after the last 20 months of calamity, under-achievement, laughable transfer windows, rain reaching 20 rows back in the Bobby Moore lower and referees like Bobby Madley, there is a time to see the good side of things.

These last few weeks, one league defeat in eight, great away wins at Stoke and Huddersfield, stuffing Chelsea, making Spurs sick, it goes on. Hard to believe so much has changed since David Moyes arrived in November.

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I normally wouldn’t dream of saying "I told you so" about anything, although it is a phrase I use frequently with the boy scouts I watch the Irons with. But you lot, well I doubt I would get away with it. But here goes. I told you so!

Moyes arrived accompanied by a cloud of sneering. This followed a combination of Salford-San Sebastian-Wearside managerial rubbish from a man many felt had seen his best time and would never reclaim his Everton halcyon days.

So, I offered you then a piece about the Moyes I had witnessed working for a decade. To no real surprise, I was subjected to a considerably amount of "you don’t know what you are talking about" and worse, from all and sundry. Particularly the previously-mentioned boy scouts.

But to even a little surprise from myself, Moyes has answered his critics, got a firm grip of our lifeless, disinterested squad, made some tough decisions and planted us in mid-table and the fourth round of the FA Cup.

It is far too early to try to suggest that the corner has been turned, that Moyes is the new messiah in east London, because football has a nasty habit of kicking you in the nuts when you think things are OK and the new manager is a genius.

I suggest any wandering Stoke fan reading this takes notice of the last remark when they consider the bizarre appointment of Paul Lambert.

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I recall a jouno friend telling me he gave up on him at Villa because his Scottish accent was totally indecipherable and what you did understand was gibberish anyway. Having experienced Kenny Dalglish (his accent, not his coaching) I take the point.

Moyes ,in some ways, finds himself in a good position. If he’s only here for six months, he might as well tackle head-on the problems at the LS, regardless of who he upsets. If it works, he’s got another couple of years here, if it fails then he’ll go somewhere and get a job, the Aussies and the Yanks are always a good option!

He sorted the goalkeeping problem, dumping Joe Hart. The haters got their way and I doubt any of them will comment on the wonder save that stopped Shrewsbury’s Stefan Payne when clean through in Tuesday’s replay.

The Moyes haters, the Mark Noble haters, have seemingly gone very quiet, thankfully. Noble has relished his role in central midfield and has been outstanding under Moyes. Moyes, himself, must think he is akin to James Corden parting sheep. The points whisperer.

Moyes’ overall record now with us is P 15 W 5 D 5 L 5 F 19 A 19. In the league he has taken 16 points from 36. He has now easily surpassed Slaven Bilic’s league record this season before he got the boot.. Slav took nine points from 33 before his demise.

Moyes has also sorted a defence, and hopefully realises we are much more solid when James Collins plays alongside Angelo Ogbonna. In fact, we have lost only once this season when these two are paired together. Oggy can, and now is, looking like a classy Italian defender who could play for Juventus.

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On other occasions, with Winston Reid around, he looks like one of those Italian waiters in a kick-about on Rimini beach, some of us will recall from the old days before the Cockneys discovered Florida.

If our much-loved board fail to give Collins a new contract, they want shooting. He may not be able to play every game, but he is our toughest, most reliable defender. One more year surely, with his character crucial to the dressing room these days, would be worth it.

He starts each season as fourth choice and is in the side by November. There are so many on daft, laughably expensive contracts at West Ham, this needs to be sorted quickly, Sully.

As for the sharp end, Moyes has decided that any combination of Andy Carroll, Chicharito and Andre Ayew does not work. And Diafra Sakho is swinging the lead, cheating the club and us and seemingly inventing injuries to get away, so he has ceased to exist.

So Arnie and Manu are being allowed to run riot up front, their technique, first touch, passing quality and movement giving us a sharp edge. Michail Antonio, when he decides to be fit, is the back-up. Bet he would die for a first touch like Marko Arnautovic!

I recall saying that Moyes can organise a side, make them tough to beat, make them fitter and will get results. It may not be pretty, but like the old Everton, it is effective, and that’s what we needed when he took over.

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So it’s with a little smugness that I can say, "I told you so". Trick now is for Moyes to keep this run going and not make me, and himself, look a mug.

Now I wouldn’t change it for the world, lets make that clear, but being a West Ham fan isn’t always that easy!

Not for us the sense of expectation and laughable entitlement (that’s you, Tottenham) that surrounds the big clubs, the two Manchester giants, Liverpool, and the two major clubs in London, Arsenal and Chelsea.

There’s usually a whole week of public, media and TV outcry when they don’t win, or at least find a soft referee who makes sure they do.

Then there’s us. Not quite the same, is it? It occurred to me this weekend that I am approaching 60 years supporting West Ham. First game in 1958, first away outside London the ‘64 FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough. I reckon that I have watched West Ham in 70+ stadiums, including Wembley, over those years.

Now I’m nothing special here, there are countless old codgers like me who have travelled the land and beyond supporting the Irons. And you get used to being disappointed, heartbroken at times, or regularly cheated by the aforementioned dummy referees. Yes, I mean you and your like ‘Bobby Bad-ley’.

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So away days like Huddersfield are few and far between. David Cross’s four goals at Spurs, a couple of fives at Chelsea, Paolo’s day at Old Trafford, even the wins by Slav’s side at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City. They all sit long in the memory.

So us travelling fans are used to nonsense. Which makes the overall display at Huddersfield special. Not just the sublime goals, but the whole team performance. The plan, the organisation, the working and covering and support play, even Cheikhou Kouyate did some running.

Me and the lad had one of the best days out in years, even the Yorkshire police were smiling and helpful. Pity they can’t show the West Midlands lot how it’s done, We even found a 'happy' Huddersfield fan on the way home who showed us where the nearest off licence was for a celebration shandy.

Our fans were excellent, even out-singing the home fans and silencing that infernal drummer. But, to his credit, he has a sense of humour. Serenaded with "where’s the wanker with the drum" at 4-1 down, he responded with a slow funereal beat in response. It'll be a shame if Huddersfield go down.


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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