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Welcome to the mad house, Joao


Filed: Wednesday, 31st January 2018
By: Paul Walker


Remember football? Thatís the stuff we watch when it can be fitted in amongst all the moaning and gnashing of teeth about the way West Ham is being run (or not) and the people who run it.

Quite rightly, the future of our great club, the performance (thatís a polite way of describing it) of our underwhelming owners, is uppermost in our minds as we see the avarice, the slight of hand, the bloated bank balances, and sometimes downright contempt from the boardroom.

But occasionally a football match breaks out amidst the war of words, and I fear soon-to-be outright rebellion from the masses if our owners donĎt start to listen and stop hiding behind their tame stooges at Sky and TalkSport.

Putting aside (if that is possible) the shocking display at Wigan and the outright disgust of 5,000 travelling fans that spilled over into quite justified questioning of our owners in the car park afterwards, the performance of our manager and patched-up team against Crystal Palace should not be forgotten.

And in particular, the display of our new Portuguese midfield Joao Mario. He has barely played this season for Inter Milan, and prior to his cameo appearance at Wigan, his previous match had been in Florence.

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Quite some difference there, from the beauty and splendour of that stunning Italian city and a match against Fiorentina, to the bruising brutality of Wigan. Wigan or Florence? Fake pier or the Ponte Vecchio and the Arno. No contest really, Iím surprised he wasnít on the first plane home after that experience.

Ah, Wigan. What else did we expect? When we had to play so many ill-prepared kids against a team who kicked lumps out of us and bullied the boys. How did that atrocious challenge on Pedro Obiang go un punished? What Arthur Masuaku did was indefensible, as was the way we seemed to just give up after the worst penalty decision I have seen this season. Nuff said about Wigan, letís move on.

Tuesday was so much better with the return of Mark Noble, Cheikhou Kouyate and the ones who were supposed to be injured ahead of the Wigan fiasco.

And in swirling rain, super Mario was splendid against Palace. A clever player, easing himself into small pockets of space, keeping possession constantly, producing the neat, precise passing to the right colour shirt, here was a player of quality and class.

He almost scored running onto Nobleís stretched head-down, his deft touch created the space and angle for Chico to force a penalty (thanks Tonks) and throughout he looked at home in the wide open spaces of the LS. Best player on the pitch by a mile. He is clearly not fully match fit yet, but he did enough to give us confidence that he can make a difference.

It's not often are you able to say that about a new player at our place, with a transfer policy over recent years that has been under-whelming to say the least, at least four íwindowsí of incompetence . So trapped are we in Sullivanís wild and whacky house of transfer horrors that we have become immune to the mediocrity, we expect nothing more. Mario, thankfully, looks different.

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In fact, the general display of a side robbed of 14 players by injuries and stupidity (I mean you Arthur), has to be commended. As does our dour, unruffled manager.

I have unashamedly championed David Moyes since he arrived, unwanted maybe by many, at the LS. Nothing I have seen since has changed my view that there is a good manager there who had lost his way, but knows the business.

He has been working in a bubble, cut off from the circus that is the Sullivan regime, and determined to concentrate on what he was hired to do, keep us up. The cups, clearly have just been an inconvenience brought about by mass absenteeism.

Players who have feigned injury to get away, young players he has rightly recalled from loans only to discover that they are currently not up to it at top level, and a general lacking in squad depth. Again, what did you expect from the team selection at Wigan with so much riding on our Premier League survival?

But even with all those problems, Moyes produced a piece of quality management on Tuesday that has been met with total approval by the fan base. When you have no strikers fit, still a dozen or so players on the sick list, and a patched up squad to face a vital match against relegation rivals, he still was single-minded enough to dump Michail Antonio for persistent bad time keeping.

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Brave or what? It could have badly backfired, but he felt that squad disciple was more important, and he has set a standard of behaviour now. One of the reasons Slavís reign got himself into so much trouble was that senior players were furious with the lax behaviour of some and that Bilic was prepared to tolerate it. Now we know who was one of the main culprits.

He was forced to watch from the stand as a spirited display by the players still able to walk, produced a deserved point.

Itís not enough, we know. But a fellow relegation rival did not win. Such is the intensity of the battle to stay up, and the vast difference now between the top six and the rest, that there are now so many draws in matches between the unwashed down at the bottom.

Itís been a trend this season, and it is not going to get any better any time soon such is the problems the lower ranks now have of getting anything but a cup of tea and a pat on the head when they have to face the high, rich and mighty.

The display by the team, with Pablo Zabaleta providing a fierce, formidable screen in front of the back three--that tackle on Sakho was something else - and the way Sam Byram stuck to his task on the right, lifted more than a few spirits.

Such had been the outcry after Wigan, and the way Sullivan and co were taken to task, Tuesdayís display took peoplesí minds off the perceived problems at the club.

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There is now a growing ground swell of anger from the terraces, from the hardcore fans who are planning protest, a march ahead of the Burnley home game is being planned.

The Real West Ham Fans Action Group (RWHFAG) are getting themselves organised, this protect is not going away. For what it is worth, my view is that this should be encouraged as long as the protest is peaceful.

I noticed recently that KUMB were being called out to show their hand, take sides so to speak, and my colleague Graeme Howlett spelt out our view, and support, very well. There is a voice to be heard now, people are angry, and they have a right to make their stand. Thatís open democracy, free speech.

So it is pitiful that Sullivan and co can enlist mates at Sky and TalkSport to slag off fans for having their say, for taking the board to task. Nobody was hurt or abused at Wigan, fans wanted to have their say. Nobody was accosted.

So for the likes of Kaveh Solhekol and Jim White to start moaning about how old men are treated is nonsense. These are the pair, presumably, who get their stories from Sullivan and are now doing his bidding. How pathetic. Toe the line or the stories will stop, no doubt.

If you donít like being held to account, if you donít want to hear any opposition voices, if you want to ignore what the fan base says, then get out of the kitchen. Itís obviously too hot for you.


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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