The long goodbye

If this is the beginning of the long goodbye, then we know it has already been painful, abusive, lacking in class and dignity and with a touch of mob rule.

I don't like the way David Sullivan has been treated, I certainly do not approve of the way Karren Brady has been abused.

And the way anyone who has the slightest good word for Sam Allardyce's pragmatic approach or--heaven forbid--to suggest that the anti- Sam brigade are not the majority, are shouted down with vile abuse is just not on. Precious little coming out of the club this week has put West Ham in a good light. Not classy at all.

Where to start? Well, lets get the morons who ganged up on Sullivan in a West Brom car park out of the way first. The pictures of them screaming vile language at our co-chairman have now zoomed around the world. I hope they are proud of themselves.

To bully and shout at a 5ft 3in old man in a silly hat who has helped save our club from financial ruin is shameful. You may not like the Davids and Karren, but without their involvement we would be another Portsmouth or Leeds by now. They deserve gratitude and thanks.

Just as bad, in my book, is the vulgar, vocal sexual abuse aimed at Lady Brady of Highbury (I still don't get the Kensington bit, sorry).

How some folk believe that is acceptable in a public place to bawl such crass obscenities is beyond me. I'll ask just one thing of that brain dead scumbag. If someone shouted such things about your wife in public, how would you feel, how would you react?

Now the pain bit. That was the shock of such a terrible display at the Hawthorns. I wasn't allowed to go, something about family visiting and it was not even worth questioning the wife on that one. So my lad fixed up my iPad to take his BT feed, very clever.

So I watched on the couch in stunned silence. What happened to the team that outplayed Manchester United a week earlier? Where was the guts and fight I witnessed at St.Marys with just nine mobile men against Southampton?

I left the south coast for the long drive back up north feeling pretty proud of my team. Then came the Cup cave-in and yes, they did look knackered, even if Tony Pulis' team is a lot, lot smarter now than the one we beat back in December under Alan Irvine.

We had close on 6,000 there, and that was part of the problem. Expectation had been lifted, mainly by the owners making such a public claim about a big Cup run this term. And such games bring in the tourists.

There was 3,000 at St.Marys and not a hint of anti-Sam. But the one-away-game-a-season lot were there in force at West Brom, and the atmosphere, I am told, was poisonous.

My lad and his mate from Kent have heard most things and neither of them are shrinking violets. But I am told that sat behind them were a pair of fatties who screamed vile abuse at Sam and Kevin Nolan from the first whistle. They upset more than a few around them, and my two decided to try to shut them up.

Never going to work, and a very unpleasant atmosphere carried on the whole game. It seems that nobody is allowed to question anything the anti-Sam mob say.

That has been obvious all week. Anyone on social media or the fans' websites who counters the stream of abuse being aimed at Sam, whether he deserves it or not, is seriously abused themselves.

The anti-Sam lot are, of course, right about everything and nobody else is allowed a view. The opposition tends to be prepared to balance the arguments, see both sides, be pragmatic. Just keep your head down when you are attempting a reasoned argument.

And the bandwagon has surged on, with far too much glee shown by some websites who have been beside themselves with expectation.

One hugely professional fans' site was forced to defend their coverage from accusations of bias. It is a problem the new- based sites have to contend with. Integrity is at stake, but it doesn't help when sites have had an obvious anti-Sam feel to them even if the people involved are exceptional, trustworthy former journalists.

Then there was the Daily Mail website, one of the biggest in the country. They had a big piece by Adrian Durham that was presented as a news story but clearly little more than an anti-Sam rant. It needed Martin Samuel in the main paper to come up with a reasoned, worthy, piece on the subject.

But the rumours have multiplied, to the point where the excellent Ken Dyer in the Standard needed to ask Sullivan whether there was any truth in speculation that Sam had turned down a four year contract. No, was the answer. While on the same day other sites were handling speculation that Sam had been sacked after falling out with David Gold and Sullivan over the potential arrival of Nene against his wishes.

I have always tried to be objective about the Sam issue, and resent being brow-beaten by the ever-righteous anti-brigade who do not tolerate anyone having a different opinion to them.

But I still do not believe they are in the majority. Polls have never really proved that. There are many sensible fans who had tried to articulate the reasons for sticking with Sam, certainly until the summer.

Sadly, I feel that much of the anti-feeling now borders on hatred. Sam has never really made much effort to be loved, is annoyingly arrogant about his own perceived qualities and has returned to type these past few weeks after an early season of expansive football.

But did anyone really believe we were good enough, or had the strength in depth, to stay in the top four? We are eighth and are already safe from the drop, and it's still not the end of February.

And whether the anti-brigade like it or not, our current points haul is the best for 30 years at this stage of a top flight season. Other stats are also worth considering in our overall development.

We have lost just seven league games this season, and only one to a team below us in the table, and that was to a seriously under-achieving Everton. We have won just two of our last 12 league games, but that includes games with Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Southampton. And there are only four defeats in that 12.

We have lost five or our last 22. This time last season we were 18th and had just lost at home to Newcastle and were deep in the mire.

What I am trying to get at is that we have established ourselves as a top half club this season, it is progress more than most of us thought possible.

But all that really counts for nothing now because the clear animosity between manager and owners is starting to rear its ugly head again. They won't talk about a new deal until the summer, they say, but Sam can see a long list of potential candidates for his job being openly discussed.

Whether he'll just coast through the final games is anyone's guess. But do not forget that the team clearly enjoy playing for him, there is excellent team spirit and still--I hope--a belief that we can get into Europe, top six will be the only way of doing that. Oh, and not losing at Spurs!

So if we are going to wave goodbye to BFS, maybe a little more dignity, less vitriol and more reasoned discussion is needed. This current state of affairs does not look good from the outside. Sadly, I feel I am wishing for the moon here , but we could at least try, people!

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