Strong leadership needed

As the shocking aftermath of the shambles at Craven Cottage slowly sinks in, the need for strong, positive leadership was never needed more.

We are nose-diving towards relegation at an alarming rate, and something has to be done to get a grip of our club. Strong, decisive action is required.

And sadly I do not see that coming from Sam Allardyce, who looked a shell-shocked, somewhat dishevelled figure on my TV screen as he was questioned about just what on earth went wrong in a match that saw Kevin Nolan sent off yet again.

I cannot think of a time in the near 60 years I have supported West Ham, that a club captain at the Boleyn has been sent off twice in four matches. It is shameful, a disgrace and Nolan should never captain the side again.

He is supposed to be Allardyce's voice in the dressing room, the leader who sets the standards. The man who cancels a Christmas knees-up in Dublin because of the position we are in and how it would look to the fans. And then he does something like this. He is certainly getting his own Xmas and New Year break, seven games out suspended now in total and counting.

Three for the bad foul on Jordan Henderson at Liverpool, and now four for his latest red mist. That means he misses the FA Cup tie at Forest, the first leg of the League Cup semi-final at Manchester City,, plus league games against Cardiff and Newcastle. His next league match would be at Chelsea on January 29...that is if Big Sam dares pick him again. And if Sam is still boss by then!

I normally avoid writing articles in anger, straight after matches when I am gutted, even embarrassed by what has happened. But looking around other West Ham websites and notice boards there are many people out there now who are shocked and disappointed by what is happening at our club.

And that is where strong leadership comes in. From the top. These days there doesn't seem to be any. Just the dithering on an Avram Grant scale and the mumblings about there not being any decent alternatives.

Say what you like about Cardiff's nutty owner, but he has dumped Malky Mackay and found Ole Solskjaer in double quick time. Spurs have axed AVB and given Tim Sherwood a crack - and now he has won at Old Trafford. While Palace, Sunderland, Stoke and Fulham have all made decisions and seen them rewarded with points in the bag.

I would feel a lot happier about our situation if I believed the owners and Ms Brady actually knew what they were doing. Increasingly I wonder. Dear Karren (CBE) has been off with her new mate Call Me Dave to China, while brushing aside Tory hopes for her to become an MP. You sense she is really angling for a place in the Lords so she can circumnavigate all that messy business of getting herself elected through the democratic process. And all this is going on while she is our vice-chair.

David Gold now has a smaller shareholding than David Sullivan and has seemed to be taking a lesser role while the club looks to be run now by the Sullivans, David and Jack!

While Allardyce does not seem to have the same level of control and respect from the playing staff as he used to have. How can you feel any different when his right-hand man, from Bolton to Newcastle to here is behaving like he is?

I feel let down by Nolan, I have always supported his role at the club and felt he had a strong character and personality, a good leader and someone who certainly knocked us into shape in the aftermath of the Grant era. But now? How does he maintain respect now from the younger lads?

We have already got James Tomkins up for, allegedly, a variety of late night charges after the Manchester United game. It is probably lost on the boy that he was already out on the lash while a good many of our fans that day in Manchester were not even home!

I still don't really believe changing a manager mid-season helps much. Research by a German university recently suggests that throughout the major leagues of Europe the outcome is 50-50. Half still get relegated, half stay up.

So what I am trying to say through my fury at the current state of affairs, is that our leaders need to act now. Do something positive, and if that means Sam is gone before the FA Cup tie, so be it.

You wonder how potential transfer targets view this shambles. Sam has already said that his main targets have gone elsewhere. Meaning they didn't want to come to us, either because of finances, the state we are in or - dare it be said - who is running the club. Players hate uncertainty.

Would, say, Glen Hoddle - Sullivan's mate, we are told - make any worse a fist of things than what is going on now? I doubt it. He may well be a different voice for the players, who do get fed-up with the same old stuff from managers and coaches.

Many, many managers would have been sacked by now with Sam's record this season. Now it is one league win in 13, and just seven points from the last 39 available. That is a disaster, a disgrace.

The current statistics are shocking to read. When we went down last under Grant, we had 17 points from the first 20 games. In the 2002-03 season, we had 15 points from the first 20, and even Sir Trevor could not turn that around. This time we are again on 15 from 20.

Something has to be done. Now. To stop this plunge to disaster. I do hope Sullivan, Brady and Gold are reading the outrage from the websites. Chairman normally act when they get abused by fans at matches, it always happens that way.

So far our fans have not turned on the board. I suggest our owners do not bank on that support for ever.

If they have not done something positive by the next home match against Newcastle on January 18, they could well be in for a very rough ride at the Boleyn. The patience and understanding of our dreadful injury problems - now Mark Noble looks to be out, and where exactly is Ravel Morrison? - will not last forever.

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