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Engineering works in progress

Filed: Tuesday, 27th November 2018
By: Rio Barlow

For longer than I care to recall, engineering works have been the bane of every West Ham fan's life. From the Boleyn to the murky world class transport links in E20, a diet of delays, diversions and rail replacement buses have caused strain on everybody determined to get to watch our beloved team.

However a different form of engineering works, could just well be the catalyst for a positive shift in fortunes for us. Fortunes that have long stated in our club anthem always hiding.

The appointment of Chilean Manuel ‘The Engineer’ Pellegrini was a bold statement by our much criticised Board. Coming from a title winning pedigree and a big reputation, it was a distinctively off kilter choice by Gold & Sullivan.

Throughout their footballing history they’ve opted largely for safe, steady, uninspired managerial choices. Perhaps scarred by the eccentricity of Barry Fry, their tenure at Birmingham was left in the hands of the likes of Bruce & McLeish.

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Having shifted their allegiances to East London the Avram Grant experiment failed, and led to the safe but divisive hands of Big Sam Allardyce. In a bid to repair the damage done by this appointment Slaven Bilic was entrusted to mastermind a fond farewell to our spiritual home, amidst a Payet filled year of footballing ecstasy. Albeit a second choice at best appointment. Rafa anyone?

Slav then after the incredibly difficult year dealing with not only the upheaval of a move, disgruntled support, woeful lack of financial backing and interference from above was dismissed and the 'safety first' option of David Moyes instated.

Again uninspiring and divisive, Moyes did manage - amidst some of the biggest turmoil seen amongst the club's support - to stave off relegation. Despite appearing to have the support of at least 50 per cent of the boardroom, his reward was not to be taken on full time.

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Enter somewhat surprisingly the genteel Chilean. He was instantly backed with, for us, significant funds to overhaul a disjointed and seemingly unhappy squad. The club record was broken twice, the backroom staff overhauled, the chairman cajoled away from his Football Manager-style transfer antics and an actual Director of Football installed.

A 15-man shift of personnel, a new manager, with new tactical styles, new training techniques implemented, all based in a stadium which still feels, despite being in its third year of residence, as if it’s nothing like a home, with any such advantage negated. This wasn’t going to be easy. This was no quick fix. It was going to take time.

A hiding at Anfield opened the new era. Not only is it a longstanding bogey ground, but also the home of a truly exceptional side this season.

‘Home’ comforts weren’t to be found as we conspired to collapse in time honoured West Ham tradition to both Bournemouth and Wolves. Teams that we allegedly should be dispatching to whence they came. The latter was the fourth league defeat in a row. Seeds of doubt were sown, discontent and doubt was being muttered. The new dawn was false apparently.

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However, amidst this a trip to north London showed elements of promise. An Arsenal side buoyant under their new manager we’re given a real battle and a scare. On the counter we attacked with drive, pace and purpose, something not seen for quite some time. I walked out of the Emirates disappointed but along with much of the travelling support, impressed with aspects of our performance and cheered we had witness the first sparks of the engineering works taking shape.

A little re-jig after the international break, some fitness regained for key players saw us travel to Goodison and triumph. More positivity against high-flying Chelsea and the troubled half of Manchester followed.

Some free flowing football, Declan Rice mastering the defensive midfield role, the developing and ever improving centre half partnership between Balbuena and Diop, Fabianski looking every inch a formidable keeper, Arnautovic being his mercurial and menacing self, the project is showing more signs of kicking into shape.

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Of course there’s been blips and disappointment along the way. It’s West Ham. It’s a brand new incarnation of it. A heartbreaking last-gasp fluke at Leicester indicated that, when the chips are down, there’s fight and desire. Huddersfield showed that we need to be more clinical. Brighton, that we need more invention.

Manchester City, that we need a billionaire.

But despite the huge cultural shift, the usual spate of serious injuries and needless suspensions, we're a real work in progress. The Engineer’s wheels are in motion and the gears are being shifted through although it’s a project that will take time to mould and complete.

Time in the modern era isn’t something that’s offered much to managers. But as our friends at TFL and Network Rail constantly remind us, planned engineering works are part of a long term plan to upgrade, maintain and improve the experience. Let our head engineer implement his programme and we could see real benefits.

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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