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So it is all about Marko...

Filed: Friday, 18th January 2019
By: Paul Walker

This week should have all be about us, shouldnít it? About our team, who had produced the best performance under manager Manuel Pellegrini, the best since we left the old gaff.

It should have been about the brilliant display of Declan Rice against Arsenal, the outstanding performances of Issa Diop, Samir Nasri, Michail Antonio, Felipe Anderson. About how West Ham had outplayed a top six side all over the park, with a calm, controlled, quality display.

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But no, it was all about Marko, again. Funny that. Last week someone, OK me, suggested that Marko had been disrespectful to the manager with all that theatrical nonsense when he was substituted against Birmingham.

I got a bit of flak for that. How dare I stop our hero from showing his passion, when it could be suggested that when Marko Arnautovic shows any passion itís about himself... I was even called a 70-year-old snowflake for suggesting there should have been a bit more dignity and thought about the team ethic; a bit old-fashioned, I suppose.

I can only say that being called a 70-year-old snowflake is the nicest thing anyone has ever called me. If it means I dislike racism, religious bigotry and far right abuse - the sort of garbage that flows through West Hamís social media and fansí forums on a daily basis - then youíve got me bang to rights.

Must admit I was delighted to see the Mailís Martin Samuel taking a similar line this week - I doubt he bothers himself with anything I might write - but it was a similar theme. Too big for his boots, not as good as he thinks he is, arrogant to stage-manage his arm waving exit the way he did. Spot on.

But enough about me, letís get back to the vastly more self-important Marko Arnautovic. All that waving to the crowd and marching off down the tunnel while the rest of us were celebrating a famous victory with our real heroes. I wonder what folk think of my criticism of him now?

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You see, I never wanted us to sign him in the first place. Living where I do in the frozen north, I have friends who support Stoke City, and acquaintances who have worked for the Potteries club at a very senior level. Letís just say the stories about his attitude, the behaviour of the poisonous brother, the transfer requests when he canít get his way, the sulking and alleged refusal to play are legion.

And of course, heíd had his head turned by us. The acrimony towards us and the way Markoís path out of Stoke was engineered has never really softened. That deal has always rankled with me. We bid £10million and then David Sullivan sent his favourite agent, Will Salthouse, up the M6 to handle things. We ended up paying £20million with a 20 per cent sell on of any profit we might make on the player.

I believe that the first lady of football, or certainly the richest lady in football, billionairess Denise Coates - who runs Bet 365 for her dad, Peter - was involved in that deal, and Stoke struck a hard bargain. Anyway, we are now getting, first hand, the same sort of nonsense from Marko and his very controversial brother Danijel.

Such a lot of stuff has emerged this week about the situation, itís hard to keep up. The best came from our favourite Essex radio station. We were told Marko 'loves money' and has a flamboyant lifestyle. The suggestion is that he also has money problems.

This had all been going on for a month, with Danijel making a Ďpestí of himself. Stoke fans have other words for him.

Rightly, we wonít sell for the Ä35million offer, but itís becoming hard to find an adequate replacement, seeing as well must sell before we can buy. Callum Wilson - guess what, heís a Salthouse client - has been suggested. Various top strikers in Europe seem out of reach, although I would love to see Maxi Gomez here.

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Marko, though (and the Chinese club) can wait a bit, sulk a bit, make a nuisance of himself a lot.

We have got untl January 31, 11pm, before the transfer window shuts. The Chinese window does not shut until February 28, which means the whole saga can be dragged out. Letís say something really nasty is on the horizon.

Say the Chinese donít offer any more, wait for the English window to shut, and then everything starts kicking off again. We canít buy a replacement but Marko can force a move out of the London Stadium.

We were told that Marko was behaving well in training, on time, working hard, no problem. But there are suggestions that the deal is off, we wonít give in and our top scorer has got the royal hump. Now, it seems, he has been dropped from the squad to travel to Bournemouth. We are told that a player who has earned £105,000 this week is not in the right frame of mind now. Poor luv.

It is fair to say that my Stoke-supporting friends have been hugely amused by this past couple of weeks' behaviour by their former player. What goes around, comes around, I was joyfully told today.

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Thankfully we have a top manager who is not phased by such shenanigans. Pellegrini has handled the massive egos of Real Madrid, the world class stars at Manchester City. I doubt he will be anything but calm and controlled as all this buzzes around West Ham. But this next few days could test him, with our season at a delicate stage.

We should be going into the Bournemouth game in confident mood, with a winnable FA Cup tie to follow. Now Marko has been axed from the squad, so as he does not upset team spirit and our progress. As I said, it always has to be about Marko.

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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