When the transfer window opened, I, like many other Hammers fans, thought a new dawning was being handed to us.
Sam Alalrdyce had gone and Slaven Bilic was in. Also in was a new way of thinking, a new plan, a more familiar style of play and hope.
For someone in their 40s, I actually allowed myself to, dare I say it, believe that we were heading for a new claret and blue era and that things might just be different. Why did I think that? Why was I able to dreamily drift along in a day dream thinking of who was to play upon the hallowed Upton Park turf and how the season might be?
Well, it was because we were all told that by the Board. The hype surrounding all of this new dawn and the players we were looking at was pulling at all the correct strings as far as I was concerned. Star players, OK not your Bale’s or your Pedro’s, but other names that I would never consider us luring to the East End were being mentioned.
I took my eye off the ball you see and forgot that the Board had sanctioned a £25million spend. Now that’s quite a bit for West Ham, but then you look at other, supposedly lesser clubs and their spend.
Stoke have brought in an entire new team and I think I’m right in saying, have spent more than us. A decent striker like Shaqiri cost them £12m. So I hold up my hands and admit I was fooled by the hype.
Due to the hype, my expectation levels grew steadily and I watched the online reports daily that we were talking to this player and that player. I recall we were talking to PSG’s Rabiot (and his mother), but that disappeared, never to be heard of again.
Moussa Sow, with quite a pedigree for scoring goals, flying wingers, pacy and creative midfielders, free scoring strikers and centre backs that were meant to be our colossus, Payet turned up, Ogbonna arrived and I liked the sound of Lanzini.
Still more exciting players were being linked, but I became less inclined to believe them by the beginning of August. I was drained, I was restless, I was a transfer watching devotee fast becoming an emotionally drained wreck on a rollercoaster ride of media information that was at best inaccurate and at it’s worse was just manufactured gossip, designed to fill the pages or online headlines.
England expects was the old phrase. I expected, but like a pregnant mother nearing her time, I saw the reality of carrying this hope, it weighed heavy and then I just wanted it over. Why?
Because in fairness, once reality bites, it hurts. The board hype of not being afraid to dig deep has burned my very soul, has scarred my belief system and after three league games, I am in freefall. I have hit, as I mentioned before, a certain amount of balance over all of this now. We are only three games into the season, with a new system, a new manager, a few new players, and it all needs time to gel and the club seems to need overhauling from schoolboy to academy to first team. It will take time and patience is required.
However, my patience, my endurance, my belief in the hype has led me to seeing headlines that make me believe that our club sights have lowered dramatically. Look at the forwards speculation. We’ve burnt our bridges with Austin and the calamitous PR surrounding that, Hernandez doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, no mention of Moussa Sow, but mention of French Lique 2 forwards and Jelavic at Hull City, Adebayor for goodness sake, and so we go on.
West Ham are doing what we always do. We will take the no hopers, those at the end of a career looking for a final pay-out, those that are not in the teams they are currently attached to, not wanted and even as pitiful as it sounds, players are being ‘offered’ to West Ham, just to get rid of them. That tells me they are probably rather naff. There is an apparent lack of decent strikers out there, but we are beginning to trawl the depths.
So, we’ve had the hype, the excitement and now all that’s left is the reality. The reality that at my age I believed in the amazing things I saw and heard and was able to gullibly accept them and the reality that at West Ham, some things never appear to change.