West Ham fans – myself included – are infamous for moaning.
When things are not going our way, we start blaming anything and everything we can rather than addressing the problem. Just logging onto Twitter consigns me to the doldrums after reading tweet after tweet of negative, rash and misplaced opinion.
Here are three common “problems” I see our fans grumbling about on social media and the reasons why these are not real problems…
We’re not winning anything in pre-season
Let’s start with what is to me the most befuddling criticism of all.
Pre-season is dubbed “pre”-season for a reason. It is a time where Slaven Bilic can run the rule over a number of squad players in comparison with the first team players; it is a time where Bilic can assess his new signings properly for the first time; it is a time used to get everyone back to full match fitness ahead of the new season.
Whilst winning is an added bonus, it really does not matter what the results are in pre-season. I think some people forget that these are non-competitive matches. Bilic has experimented and tinkered with his teams; rotating youth players and regulars.
He has not once fielded a “full strength” side and he makes a large number of substitutes in each game. If you are of a superstitious nature, you’d almost be willing us to have a bad pre-season considering that our one unbeaten year was under Avram Grant and we were relegated thereafter.
Yes, losing to Seattle Sounders and Rubin Kazan whilst being held by North Carolina Railhawks and FC Slovacko are not good results, but the results are very irrelevant at the moment.
Bilic will be working on formations, tactics and integrating the new players ahead of our Europa League qualifier coming up soon. He has not turned into an awful manager overnight. Have faith in the team and the manager.
We haven’t signed a striker yet!
This striker search is becoming one of the most tedious wild goose chases in years.
Like many of you, I am very keen to cash in on Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho and get in two replacements but it doesn’t quite work like that. We are still an up and coming side.
Rewind to five years ago in summer 2011 and we were in the Championship. Rewind a bit further back and we were in all sorts of financial difficulties. To just expect our owners to stump up a transfer fee in excess of £30m is ludicrous. In a way, I’m not too disappointed about losing out on targets Michy Batshuayi or Alexandre Lacazette, because they are so overpriced for what they can offer us.
To take this out on the owners is ridiculous – do you think they have not been trying to secure a new forward? They can’t just “offer him more money”; negotiations are not quite that easy. Whilst money plays a big part in transfer deals, it is not the only factor in recruitment.
It seems as though Jonathan Calleri is coming in and we will look for one or two more strikers. We just need to have faith in Bilic and the board because they know what they are doing when it comes to transfers.
We are not going to be ripped off unnecessarily for the sake of getting any old striker. Let’s bide our time and I’m sure they will make the right decision.
We need to improve our defence with more signings
This is not a pressing issue contrary to what some West Ham fans will lead you to believe.
Yes, like every other West Ham fan, I also prefer Michail Antonio on the wing but the attacking midfield ranks are oversubscribed with top talent so we might get more game time out of Antonio at right-back.
Some of his defending is still unconvincing but have faith in Bilic – he knows what he is doing with every other aspect of our team so let’s hope this isn’t a sort of blind-spot. To be frankly honest, how many teams in the Premier League, realistically, have a quality right-back? Not many is the answer. There is a shortage of good players in that position nowadays.
Maybe we should give Sam Byram a go. He shone in the Championship and could be a top player with a bit more game time, experience and physicality in his game. Let’s give him a chance in the Europa League and see where that takes us. Havard Nordtveit and Reece Burke can also play at right-back so it is not the end of the world if we do not sign another player in that position.
As for left-back, Jack Sullivan has confirmed that we are in the market for an Aaron Cresswell back-up so relax on that front. And for those saying we need another centre-back – really?
Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna and James Collins are three very competent Premier League defenders who all deserve a starting spot. Reece Burke is a tremendous prospect who was Bradford’s best player by a mile last year. Reece Oxford, Cheikhou Kouyate and Havard Nordtveit can play at centre half too. Just because we lost James Tomkins, it does not make us weaker in that department. It is just recruiting for the sake of it.
The West Ham fans that rue our lack of signings have a very short memory indeed. Sofiane Feghouli and Havard Nordtveit are two players with European experience coming in on a free. We have snapped up a lot of young talent and completed the loan signing of highly-rated Turkish winger Gokhan Tore. It is also easy to forget Manuel Lanzini’s deal has been made permanent too.
In fact, we have signed six players this window: the joint most (with Middlesbrough) by any Premier League club.
In the past we’ve had reason to panic and grumble and complain about our team. But this is not the case anymore. Be grateful for supporting a team which plays attractive football for a passionate manager. Be grateful that we are not stuck with Avram Grant at the helm and Tal Ben Haim in defence.
Sometimes we just need to remember where we were five years ago when Sam Allardyce took over in the Championship. Is that somewhere we would like to return? Absolutely not. So we should be appreciative of how well we’re doing at the moment and have complete and utter faith in Slaven Bilic and the owners – because it paid off last year and I believe it will pay off again this year.
So, stop worrying about petty little things as it is hard enough being a West Ham fan during the season; let alone pre-season.
So go and grab yourself a cold beer, enjoy your summer sun while it lasts and forget about West Ham until the competitive stuff starts up again.