A circus of betrayal

It was almost two years ago that Mark Noble stood on the Boleyn turf in the pouring rain and declared that his beloved West Ham was no longer being run like a circus. I wonder how he feels now?

Now I am in no way having a pop at our captain, he may well not be as mobile as he once was but you cannot for one second suggest he doesn't give every last drop of sweat to West Ham, when all around him are bordering on the shambolic, Noble will be out there leading.

In some ways that has got him more stick than he deserves. While others hide, jog, amble or just disappear, Noble would never dream of taking the easy way out.

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Many of us shared that moment with him after the amazing victory over Manchester United on 10 May 2016, that brought the curtain down on 112 years of history at our former ground. Many didn't really want to go to Stratford, but we bought into the belief that the only way to become a truly big club was to move to a vastly bigger stadium, and all the increased revenue streams (there I am, talking Dildo speak, sorry) such a move would make possible.

What we have seen since is a cold-blooded betrayal of our fans' faith. A circus in every sense of the world, two years of disgraceful ownership incompetence.

It is with great irony that two years to the day that Man Utd were beaten in that wonderful final match at the Boleyn, they are the visitors again to east London on Thursday week, May 10.

Last time we were fighting to reach the Champions League,, this time we are scrambling without an ounce of dignity to just stay in the Premier League.

I don't believe Noble could see that coming. Few of us could, even if I for one never once believed the 'new level' nonsense and all the claims that Champions League was just around the corner. The insular, defensive structure of European club football and all the financial regulations which halt the progress of smaller clubs, just does not allow that.

David Sullivan and David Gold would have known that too. But they still continued to pedal a myth, a dream that was unattainable in anything short of a decade of toil and billions of pounds.

It has taken Sheikh Mansour ten years since his takeover at the Etihad to get Manchester City to their current position. Our owners wanted Slaven Bilic to achieve it in ten months.

These past two years have been a chastening, shocking eye-opener. We have gone backwards at an alarming rate. In these two seasons at the London Stadium, 36 players have left and 26 moved in.

And what we are watching is nothing like that last season under Bilic at Upton Park.

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We are so far away from that, so fragmented as a fan base, so dispirited as a team, Sullivan, Gold, Karren Brady and, I accept Bilic and David Moyes to an extent, as well as the players, should hang their heads in shame.

When Sam Allardyce left and Bilic took over, both men talked of the squad not being strong enough, good enough or crucially deep enough, to handle what was to come. That this has not been addressed to any level of professional competence is a betrayal of every trusting sole that made the forced march to Stratford.

There are some dreadful statistics to underpin this betrayal. In 73 league games since the move we have won just 20 and conceded 131 goals. We needed to buy good central defenders and midfield players, ones who could press and run. We have failed miserably.

Losing Dimitri Payet was a disaster on many levels. Since he left in January last year, we have won just 14 of 53 league games. He has never been even remotely replaced properly. Someone, it seems, looked at one of those Football Manager computed games and reckoned Robert Snodgrass could take free kicks. Hard to make up sometimes, isn't it?

And we are no longer competitive. Bilic's team in that last season beat Manchester United, Liverpool twice, Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal as well as an away victory at Manchester City.

During the past two seasons in league games against these six top clubs, we have won just two of 23 matches, picking up just 11 points. That's why we are where we are.

All this has been going on against a backdrop of sustained fans' unrest. A couple of marches, a squirming, manipulating board who think they have won this battle (they haven't) and a stream of punters on every fans' site or forum you can find saying they are not going to renew their season tickets.

Some of the stories and posts are harrowing, heartbreaking, as the old guard seem to be giving up. I frankly doubt the owners care, they say they have plenty on the waiting list and they will virtually give tickets away this summer to maintain that 56,000 attendance figure.

And something else came under my radar this week, which will underline much of what the fans suspect and hate. A good friend of mine spent some time in the club recently when the fallout from the Burnley nonsense was making every media outlet.

This pal of mine had a lengthy chat with someone high up at the club, I don't know who but I trust my mate. In that off-the-record chat the expression 'Chelsea of the East' came up.

What was meant is that the club are desperate to transform our club away from the East End roots and the old school fans who don't really contribute much to the club's coffers anyway, but moan a lot. They want to be like Chelsea, pulling in the corporate cash and jettison as much as possible from the old days.

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Ticket cash does not add much to club's bank balance these days, they could almost shut down the two lower tier ends at the LS - the ones that have to be moved at vast cost - and not see much of a dent in their profits. They don't want us anymore, an even greater betrayal seems just around the corner.

But they need to stay in the top flight, anything else would be catastrophic. So somehow we need a few more points from three tough games to just stay in the top flight and avoid a financial nightmare from which this club may never recover.

With the 17th-highest wage bill in Europe we are paying players vastly too much to even consider keeping them on. If you thought the fire sales that followed our last relegations in 2003 and 2011 were bad, you ain't seen nothing yet.

If we do go down it will be Sullivan and Gold's third relegation from the top flight in ten years. Someone should point out that the business plan is not working, either here or at Birmingham.

Sullivan and Gold must be praying for some sort of salvation, relegation in front of 56,000 fans by Everton and big Sam on May 13 will not be a pretty sight.

So this week's shenanigans will not have helped. Andy Carroll walking away from the dugout (someone suggests he wanted to go to the loo) and then launching into a no-holds-barred row with David Moyes at training the following morning, has done nothing to suggest there is a decent level of player spirit, loyalty and desire.

We can all understand the frustration big Andy must have felt being left on the bench while Moyes desperately tried to keep the score down against City. But to walk away and desert your team mates is inexcusable.

What ever you think of the manager, and we all have our views now as his grip on the situation seems to be slipping alarmingly, you can't behave like that and then refuse to apologise. A day off for everyone from training on Tuesday may have been the best idea to let tempers cool.

What was noticeable was that Javier Hernandez allegedly got in on the row while Pablo Zabaleta has been actively supporting Manuel Lanzini, whose loss of possession to present City with their fourth had incurred Moyes' wrath. Not a happy camp then.

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It has been open season since Sunday. Dean Ashton suggested the players were ignoring team instructions and lacked pride, Alan Shearer attacked a poor attitude and lack of effort. The squad was called dysfunctional.

But whatever the problems backstage, the fans deserve more. They deserve 110 per cent now from the team, and we will sort out the problems when we are safe. I had been looking forward to the trip to Leicester...last away game, we would surely be safe and a party day beckoned. Not so sure it's going to be like that now.

But I say again, after the string of awful results of late... two wins from our last 12 and just ten points from that run and 26 goals conceded, the fans deserve better. The fans have been let down enough, lied to, betrayed. Safety is all that matters at the moment.

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