Great way to celebrate 400 games, Aaron

I defy anyone who witnessed Aaron Cresswell's stunning free-kick against Manchester United not to have felt genuine joy for our much criticised left-back.

Nobody should be above criticism, we do all have a financial and emotional input into West Ham United, but some of the abuse the little Scouser has suffered these past months has been outrageous.

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Yes, his form has not been what it was when he won those England caps, he has struggled for game time and consistency following injury and I am sure he has been aware that things have not always gone brilliantly for him in the past season or so.

But the level of sustained abuse he has suffered on social media has been well over the top. Frankly it's hard to believe so many West Ham fans on twitter have FIFA coaching badges!

Fair to say I dislike the twitter generation and their ability to pile in on someone and give the impression that the whole world is against that individual. He may not have seen it or read it, he may not be bothered by the sneering, the patronising arrogance of so-called fans who so obviously know better than the various managers he has worked for.

Maybe I am getting a bit soft in my old age, but I feel we are much too hard on our own players at times. Cresswell has been a good, honest servant to this club and deserves better.

It's perfectly OK to have a debate now about who plays left-back at Bournemouth on Saturday. Does Cresswell stay in after a decent performance against Manchester United, or does Arthur Masuaku's improved displays this term warrant his instant recall? Up to the manager there.

Cresswell played his 400th senior career match on Sunday, and he could not have chosen a better way to show that there is still life in the old dog - he is 30 in December - yet, still capable of playing in the Premier League despite the constant assurances from bloggers, fans' sites and those lovable keyboard warriors to the contrary.

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Their attacks have been relentless, snide and nasty. But on Sunday he rose above it all to curl a stunning free-kick into the top corner to maintain West Ham's excellent start to the season, six games unbeaten now since that opening day mauling by Manchester City, four successive clean sheets , one defeat in their last ten league games and just three defeats in their last 17 home matches.

In all that time Cresswell and his running mate Arthur have been targets for constant criticism.

Some of that has been valid, but sometimes the people handing out the stick do not take much notice of the fact that he has been hung out to dry at times by a failure of the left-sided players in front of him to do their job properly.

Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio have all played on the left of midfield and tackling and tracking back at times has been sorely missing.

Take the Manchester City goal in the opening home match that saw Kyle Walker surge past Cresswell to set up the champion's first goal. Now City attacked the space in front of him from the start, and as the build-up to that goal progressed you can see Antonio jogging across without much intent to help out.

Cresswell was left facing two City men and moved forward to confront the ball carrier because nobody else was. The pass was instant to send Walker racing past the West Ham man. That sort of thing has happened far too often for it all to be Cresswell's fault.

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This season it has been a little different. A little snippet of information about how West Ham spent their time during the international break explains a lot. West Ham had all their defenders around at Rush Green during that recent international programme. Not surprising, some of you night say.

But Manuel Pellegrini and his staff took the chance to work exclusively with our back four, we were told, no doubt on covering and support play and working as a unit. You could see that at Villa last week, where full backs were not exposed so obviously.

But even when Masuaku, who has had a decent start to the season, managed to get himself sent off and banned you could sense the near panic amongst observers.

Polls were run to decide who would replace Masuaku, with Ben Johnson and Pablo Zabaleta championed ahead of Cresswell. Pellegrini, when asked who would step in at his pre-match press conference insisted almost dismissively that it would be Cresswell. He was the understudy.

And he didn't let anyone down. The lad seems to be well liked around the squad and you could tell their delight for him when he scored against Manchester United.

He played a big part in an excellent victory, and for folk like me who have lived in the shadows of Old Trafford for 30 years and had to put up with their sickening entitlement, this win is especially sweet.

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And no, I didn't expect much gushing praise in the media. You see, Manchester United are always the bigger story. There's been a lot of general slagging of the media over the coverage, but it comes from non-journalists who don't always understand news value.

Manchester United have millions of followers the world over, there are probably more Man U fans in the south east than West Ham supporters. Media is a business, they sell newspapers and fill all platforms - papers, radio, TV, online - with advertising revenue.

West Ham United do not, sadly, sell newspapers like that or fill TV screens. So when Man United are rubbish, in decline and failing to win matches, that's the big story, sadly.

TV, as usual went a bit over the top, they have 24/7 to fill these days. But I felt that a lot of the paper coverage gave us credit. Ian Ladyman in the Mail was particularly well balance.

But we should be used to it all these days; it's the way of the world.


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