As this season is winding down, there has been the constant argument over the style of football we have or have not ‘played.’
For me, it has not been the way I grew up watching West Ham play but, then again, times have moved on. When once upon a time, a foreigner was from Scotland or Ireland, now the players come from all over the world. In the “old days, West Ham were lucky to be on either of the one hour football shows, either Match of the Day on Saturday night or the Big Match on Sunday afternoon.
Now I can watch every single Premiership match live on my television, smart phone or tablet. I can also choose what other live football games I want to watch from every country in the world, depending on what cable or Internet service I decide to subscribe to. Football has moved on. For better or worse? I’ll let you decide.
But the overriding theme is money. When Sky started showing live football games, the money from their television deal with the Premier League, meant that all the clubs in the top division got a sudden large cash win-fall. This allowed them to spend large amount of money enticing the best players to the English game. With the exposure on cable TV via Sky, and the excitement provided by having the best players in the world now playing for the richest teams, foreign investors started searching for an English team to buy.
It’s not surprising that Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool now having foreign owners. Even Cardiff, who may soon be relegated, have Mr. Tan from Malaysia as their owner.
So the talking point for most fans this season has been the way Sam Allardyce, Fat Sam or whatever you want to call him, has had the team playing.
Now remember, this is his third year in charge of the Hammers. He has been the major influence on all the signings for the past three seasons, as well of who to sell. He has also made the decision on style of football we have played, by the type of player he has bought in. Sam’s record is not too impressive if you judge him on what he has won, but as he will happily tell anyone who wants to listen, he has never been manager of a team that he has never been relegated from the Premiership.
In his first season at West Ham, his sole role was to get us promoted. We went and won a record number of away games that season and managed to reach the promised land via the Play-Off Final.
Somehow we managed to finish tenth last season and we still have a lot of the players who got us promoted from the Championship, which is probably still their standard. Players that were transferred in, in Sam’s first season as manager, were pretty much purchased because he knew what they could do and would easily fit into his style of play. Now they are set in their ways, but have steadily gotten slower.
So we started the season without our new record signing injured and struggled to gain many points. We had trouble scoring but Sam was so proud of the number of clean sheets we had and kept going on about having the best record for that. I got fed up reading the email the club would send me after another week when our defence did not let a goal in – here was no mention that we didn’t score a goal either!!
The majority of the football this season has been dire. Going into the season, you know it will be hard against the top six teams, we might beat one or two and get a couple of draws at home, and hopefully get a draw at maybe two of them away. That’s ten points.
That leaves thirteen teams that we would have to do well against to get the other thirty two points to be safe. Never happened. Why? Our entire season was built around having one lone striker and he was injured for half of it.
The replacement, Maiga, was the only center forward in the world who could not score a goal. The second option was Carlton Cole, who knew he would be a free agent in the close season and became so unfit, it took him a few months to get match fit when we needed a third choice centre forward after the season had started. I like Carlton, he does try, despite his lack of ability.
Strange as it seems, we had our best run, four wins on the trot, when Andy Carroll was suspended. I’m not too sure what that says but, without those four games in February, we would be looking at relegation.
Now it’s time for the season ticket holders to think about re-newing their tickets for next season. Eight hundred pounds is a lot of money for the little entertainment that has been provided this year.
My mate Adam, who lives close by me in California, just came back from a visit to his family in Plaistow and went to the Crystal Palace home game. He got two tickets in the Bobby Moore Upper, one for him and one for his son. It cost him £104. He said if he knew we would play such poor football, he would never have gone.
No one can make you hand over your hard earned money for the type of football that is so predictable under our current manager and basically easy to defend against.
No one can force you to go to Upton Park. The football will probably be live on the television or in a pub.
All I can say is “If you don’t like it, don’t go”. The choice is yours.