Back to the future

We are witnessing the death of the impossible dream. The dream sold to West Ham fans as the way to the next level, Champions League football in five years and all that. So we waved goodbye to Upton Park and prepared for the good times.

It was going to be bright, attacking football in our tradition, it was going to be worth all the hassle of leaving our home for the wide open spaces on the banks of the once disgustingly polluted River Lea.

Now what have we got? A fan base who are enraged by the appointment of David Moyes, again, furious with our beloved owners for the way they run the club, sick to the back teeth with all the PR spin and stuck in a stadium many, many hate. And now they are watching as David Sullivan's great project collapses around him.


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There is plenty of blame being spewed out by thousands of fans since the dreadful home defeat by Leicester, and the almost instant Karren Brady-style sacking of Manuel Pellegrini. But the one person not to blame is Moyes.

This shambles is not his fault. He will walk into the eye of a storm on Wednesday when mighty Bournemouth come to town. He at least warrants a respectful welcome, even if the fact that the club find themselves stepping back in time for a replacement for the sacked Pellegrini.

On Saturday we all said our farewells to the great Martin Peters, a player once famously labelled ten years ahead of his time. There is then something of an irony about Moyes' re-appointment, a manager many feel is ten years behind the times these days.

Once a hot property at Everton, but now only tepid, if that, to our supporters, who have been expecting far more than this. Moyes did a decent job when he was here 18 months ago, keeping us in the Premier League during the turbulent few months of the 'protest season'.

But he hasn't worked since in the game and now finds himself being asked to go through all that again and repair the damage of the disastrous Pellegrini's last few months.

It gives me no pleasure to say that I warned about this. I was never sold on the Pelle appointment, I asked back in the May of that year whether the former Manchester City boss still had the hunger, why had he gone to football retirement in China, why had nobody else wanted him in Europe.

Was he just looking for one last pay day with us that he just could not turn down, considering the ?7m a year wages, making him the third highest paid manager in the Premier League. You would, wouldn't you?


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I did find myself in a minority as I questioned the appointment, such was the wave of hype that swept through the club, mainly by people who had little or no knowledge of his final year or so at City. One or two of his players then have recently questioned his methods , including James Milner in his recent book.

But that's all water under the bridge now. Our board has spent the past few weeks punting around for someone to replace Pellegrini. They reportedly went for some really big names, and not surprisingly got turned down. They went for a few likely appointments, from Sean Dyce to Eddie Howe but found them hard, and expensive, to prise away from their current employers.

Many would have liked to see them go for a bright young manager, Scott Parker or Lee Bowyer. But they didn't. They turned to Moyes again. And the floodgates of opposition from fans opened up. Polls variously had 80 per cent not wanting him back, and the constant flow of derision could not have gone unnoticed by the club.

But we are still back in time, 18 months ago. And Sullivan has been forced into action, while seeing his great project in ruins. Don't forget we got rid of Sam Allardyce because the fans didn't like his style of football.

With all the "world class stadium and world class team" nonsense flying around, those fans expected so much more.

Pellegrini was a big mistake, a manager who never lived up to all the hype and sometimes gave the impression of not being too bothered. He seemed to carry the can for all the financial restraints, despite what looked like significant outlays on new players. That is until you factored in the net position, and the amount of players who were let go, five strikers this summer alone.


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And always the nagging doubt that Sullivan had not stepped back from the transfer market. Did Pellegrini buy all those players? Lukasz Fabianski and Ryan Fredericks were all but completed before the Chilean arrived, and there have been claims that Issa Diop was very much a Sullivan deal. And you can believe Pelle signed David Martin. He never got the top-class central midfielder he was after, neither did Slaven Bilic, and the club let a string of decent midfielders leave.

Sometimes you got the impression that Pellegrini was using players as substitutes or squad players in cup ties to say: "See what you have left me with." And that doesn't just apply to Carlos Sanchez.

But all this deliberation is over now with Moyes' appointment confirmed on Sunday evening. He certainly doesn't meet the requirements of many fans, who see this as a retrograde step. And he is certainly not known for the style of football that Sullivan and the board set out aiming for.

So we are back to square one, really. Moyes has supposed better players than last time around but must surely sign midfield cover, as well as a striker...please no bringing Jordan Hugill back.

I would expect Moyes to revert to five at the back, with Aaron Creswell in a more central role and the alarmingly unpredictable Arthur Masuaku as a wing back. The rest we will have to wait and see.

But it has been a daunting weekend, being well beaten by a virtual Leicester reserve side. I have read the outpouring from our anguished fans on social media, listened to a lot of it in my left ear on the long train journey home on Saturday and I get it all.

Realistically and financially, Moyes' reappointment makes sense. A safe pair of hands, someone who can organise a defence and get players to do their jobs properly.

But that's what we have come to. We need 20 points to stay in the division, that's the priority now. But it's miles away from what we were promised, miles away from the next level, miles away in many minds from justifying the move.

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