Today’s pre-match is written by a long suffering West Ham supporter, hope you enjoy the read.
Towards the end of last season, the vertically challenged of the porn brothers was asked whether the club were about to offer Slaven Billic a new contract, given his impressive first season. In classic Sullivan style, he said not yet as the owners wanted to make sure Slav wasn’t a one season wonder. Many pundits thought this disrespectful and just plain wrong.
But over in East London, we have a bit of history in this area.
In 2001 Harry Redknapp was replaced by Glenn Roeder. The supporters were rather perplexed as he hadn’t achieved anything from a managerial standpoint but by the end of that season Roeder led the club to a respectable 7th place .
Unfortunately his second season was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster culminating in relegation. Quite a feat that with a team boasting David James, Jermaine Defoe, Michael Carrick, Paulo Di Canio, Joe Cole, Trevor Sinclair and Freddie Kanoute to name just a few. Incidentally, many fans believe the first home game of that season set the seal on what was to come when 2-0 up with 30 minutes to play, goals from Wiltord and Henry denied the Hammers a winning start. By the time of the return fixture in mid January – won via a skanky hat trick by Henry – we had failed to register a single win at home.
It took 3 seasons and two play offs to make it back to the promised land.
Fast forward to 2008/09 and early in the season, Alan Curbishley threw his toys out the pram following the sale of George McCartney to Sunderland and was replaced by the flair, but managerial inexperience, of Gianfranco Zola. A respectable 9th place finish was achieved playing an attractive brand of football. Although there was turmoil off the pitch with the Icelandic owners checking their bank statement and discovering they were more likely to be shopping at Iceland than at Harrods, supporters looked forward to the following season with great anticipation. Incidentally the Gunners took 4 points from us that season with a 2-0 win at Upton Park followed by a hard fought 0-0 draw at The Emirates.
Sure enough, a combination of off field turmoil, second season syndrome and the arrival of the Porn brothers created enough instability to take the club spiralling back towards the Championship. The only thing that saved them (and their paltry 35 points) were three worse teams in the shape of Portsmouth, Hull and Burnley who finished with 19, 30 and 30 points respectively.
That season also saw a reverse of the 2003 fixture between the giants of North and East London as The Hammers came back from 2-0 down (Van Persie and Gallas) to draw 2-2 at Upton Park. Zola was dismissed at the end of that season but it was hard not to feel sympathy for him as that genius football club chairman David (Dildo) Sullivan weaved his magic wand in the January transfer window. Desperate for a goal scoring forward he recruited Mido and Benni McCarthy who legend has it both signed their contracts at McDonalds on the A13 where they’d been holed up for 6 months gorging on Burger and Chips. Unsurprisingly, neither registered a goal during their short but ill-fated stay.
Having failed to ensure relegation that season, The Porn Brothers recruited Avram Grant and sure enough, got the job done 12 months later.
So, fast forward again to now and what does the future hold following another successful first season for a new West Ham manager? Well, to be honest, it’s not looking good at all. Once again we have ‘off the field’ turmoil, this time between the club and supporters, who have now realised they’ve been sold 2 pups.
The first in the shape of an athletics stadium masquerading as a football ground. The atmosphere at times is toxic and promises made a year ago by The Duchess, in a video promoting the new ground, have been proved to be outright lies. A recent survey on popular forum ‘Kumb’ suggests only 35% of season ticket holders are certain to renew their season tickets next season. There is even talk of a protest tomorrow in front of the cameras.
Secondly, the move was sold as our chance to challenge the Premiership big guns by attracting world class players. At the end of last season, buoyed by a seventh place finish and a prospective European campaign, Sullivan boasted about getting ready to sign a top quality goal scorer spending £25 million plus in the process. But despite repeated attempts to entice Carlos Bacca and Arsenal target Alexander Lacazette to East London, we have ended up with a promising but untried striker from Man U, a promising but untried young striker from Argentina and a loan (with an option to buy) joke of a striker from Juventus.
Coupled with the obligatory Andy Carroll injury before the second Premiership game of the season (he may be on the bench tomorrow) and a sulking Diafra Sakho who came back to pre-season in a shocking physical state (is now injured again and out for 6 weeks having only just made his seasonal bow) we have had zero cutting edge.
We also failed to solve the problem right back position and managed to destroy the confidence of one of our best attacking players, Michael Antonio, by playing him in a back four where he clearly struggled. (and NO – we don’t want Jenko back).
Payet, without a target man to find, has failed to reach the heights of last season (there is actually a feeling that he has pretty much thrown in the towel and will be off in January), Ayew, who the club had a chance to sign for free last year, but stupidly paid Swansea more than £20 million at the start of this season has been out for pretty much the whole campaign. Creswell has only recently returned from 4 months out only to get injured again at Old Trafford on Wednesday night (and also looks like missing out tomorrow). Mark Noble, outstanding last season, has been poor and Lanzini, also injured before the season began has struggled to recapture last seasons’ impressive form.
We sit in 17th and with matches against you boys and then Liverpool away, we could soon be sitting in the bottom three as we head towards Xmas (and we all know what that means). So the prospects for tomorrow are not great. Our defence are unable to keep a clean sheet and we have no one to put the ball in the back of the net.
Big Raddy tells me he has a bad feeling about the game but I’ve known him for close to 50 years and he’s one of the worst predictors of a football match I’ve ever come across – I’m expecting a 2 goal win for The Arse with Walcott getting one and Ozil the other.
I also think Bilic will be gone by the end of the season (sadly) and the Porn Brothers and The Duchess still there (a bigger shame) but we will retain our Premiership standing (just).
Enjoy the game.
Written by WestHamBob