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Havenít we been here before?

Filed: Friday, 2nd November 2018
By: Paul Walker

Here we go again. itís Burnley next and we are still running on the pitch, fans are still fighting inside and outside the stadium, and we are getting flares thrown now, too.

And guess what? The FA want our observations, we seem to have gone full circle and nothing has changed. Apart from £100m spent and a new manager.

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The FA will be told this time what they are hearing already about last seasonís nonsense when Burnley were in town. Itís not our stadium, we have no control over the security and stewardingÖ itís not our fault, itís those pesky owners.

Maybe the FA will accept that. But their policy is that they do and will generally hold West Ham responsible. They have to have someone to blame, and they have no jurisdiction over the owners.

Last weeks there was a two-day FA hearing into the fracas after the Burnley game last season. The club was told, so my FA sources tell me, that they would have a decision in two weeks, such is the mirage of legal problems that surround everything that happens to West Ham and this blighted, jinxed London Stadium.

So what has happened since hardly helps West Hamís cause. More pitch invaders, more fans banned for life, and now successive home games where flares--that are illegal--have been smuggled into the ground and set alight. It was claret and blue flares last time, this time a dark blue one in the Spurs end.

Blimey, do any of the searches outside the ground actually work? How do you smuggle canisters into the ground when those íwandí searches flicker even when the pass over my spare hearing aids!

Yes, it is the owners and their sub-contractors at fault. And our club keeping banging on about that. The weary FA couldnít give a monkeys whether we are tenants or not, someone has to be held to account in such situations, and that means us.

I believe that the last court case between the club and the owners over the release of information regarding the Burnley game last season, threw up just what our board wanted. I am being told that the level of security, such a key part of West Hamís defence when it happened, was clearly revealed from the vast amount of detailed material that was finally released.

So here we are again. The FA may well take pity on us over last seasonís shambles. They may well accept that Wednesday was not our fault. But people close to the situation doubt it. We are testing everyoneís patience. There are not regular pitch incursions at other Premier League grounds, fighting inside and outside the ground is not the norm, away fans in the wrong end being attacked is not usual elsewhere.

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And the London mayorís baseball games are nothing to do with this. I have a mate whose cousin works in the mayorís office (do keep up) and he reckons all that baseball stuff has been costed, even down to the re-configuration of the stadium. Why do people think otherwise?

Why do people call it a vanity event? American sport in the UK gets great audiences. The NFL at Wembley sells out every time, it's way over-subscribed. If we have the Boston Red Sox,the new world series winners, and New York Yankees here next summer, the stadium will be full. No segregation, fans sitting side by side, able to drink in their seats, even buy popcorn.

The stadium could be filled by the ex-pat Yanks living in London twice over. So letís stop slagging off the mayor about baseball, which like all other sports at the LS will not need anywhere near the amount of stewarding that we need. Or cause the amount of endless, now boring, problems. Arenít we getting just a little sick of all this?

Now I donít want to get into any political row about the mayor, he is what he is. But every time someone writes a piece attacking him, the West Ham social media and websites explode with abuse, Islamaphobia, racism, bigotry etc. Itís all there, along with the regular bog-standard anti-Semitism. If you havenít noticed, we seem to attract this sort of stuff.

The bottom line is that the stadium is not ours, we have no say in how it is used and managed, we are just tenants. Why is this so hard to understand? We are finding that we have landlords who donít really like us or the contract the previous administration agreed to.

Lady Brady took them to pieces at that Assembly hearing, piece by piece. It was cruel really against such amateur politicians. But they donít like us, and thatís probably why things like the Ribman being banned from using the Bobby Moore Academy site outside the stadium, happens.

What goes around comes around. Wish it wasnítí like that, but it is. See you in court, maybe.

And while all this aggro is going on, we have a football team to support. One that has taken just eight points from ten games, and only twice before in Premier League years--thatís 26 years to you and me--have we had less points at this stage.

Alarm bells should be ringing. We have lost eight points from winning positions, the worst in the top flight. Previous managers would be under a lot more pressure than Manuel Pellegrini is with a record like that. Heís a charming man but Iím not sure how much longer our fans will afford him a charmed life.

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I donít know whether West Hamís owners are gamblers or not--I guess they are--but over the next few months their nerves are going to be tested to the maximum.

David Sullivan, we know, likes a flutter on the stock market, but I doubt anything as big as the gamble that is being taken with West Hamís future, has passed his way lately.

Off the pitch the odds on West Ham succeeding with their big court case with the ground owners later this month about increased capacity is anyoneís guess. On the pitch the gamble is crystal clear and the stakes are higher. They are playing with our future in the Premier League. Itís as stark as that.

They gambled £100m on new players in the summer, ten signed in all and a manager from the supposed higher level who was charged with playing attacking football come what may.

Pelle keeps saying if we keep going like this, it will be OK. I wish I had his confidence. He has a shattering injury list, and there is surely some irony that he has asked for more building space to be constructed at Rush Green so the medical staff can treat the injured players.

Someone should tell him that it is always like that. We never seem to have less than a dozen out and being treated. Two of the summer arrivals wonít play again this season, our top scorer is carrying an injury without any obvious replacement, three senior men are still out from last season along with Jack Wilshere from the current intake.

Three of the new men, Lukasz Fabianski, Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena have been roaring successes, the jury is still out on Felipe Anderson and Lucas Perez. Ryan Fredericks is now Pablo Zabaletaís understudy, and the kid Xande Santos would probably have been in the squad by now had he not done his hamstring.

I wouldnít get too worried about the defence, ignoring Wednesdayís debacle came when the usual suspects were playing, and we all know they have plenty of ípreviousí for comedy defending. In the league we have conceded seven in seven, and the axis of Fabianski, Diop, Balbuena and Declan Rice have been outstanding as a unit.

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Itís at the other end we have problems. We have only scored seven in those seven. Now we have a run of games we should be able to gather points from. Burnley, Huddersfield, Man City (not them), Newcastle, Cardiff, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Watford, Southampton, Burnley (again) and Brighton come next.

We need 32 points from our final 28 games to reach 40 points, lets just concentrate on that. The new level comes next season.

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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