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    Give Us Our Football Back

    Hungry Hammer 66
    Hungry Hammer 66
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    Give Us Our Football Back Empty Give Us Our Football Back

    Post  Hungry Hammer 66 on Sat 10 May 2014, 12:58 pm

    Give Us Our Football Back by Tony McDonald


    WHEN the long-awaited celebrations following Big Sham’s impending dismissal finally subside and we recover from our hangovers, the next big question will soon sober us up: ‘So who’s next?’
    Naturally, I’ll be delighted to see the back of Allardyce, who is without doubt the manager who has presided over the worst football witnessed at this club in living memory, but there was a depressing inevitability about where we’re at now.
    Much as I have protested bitterly from day one of his reign almost three years ago that Allardyce was the wrong choice for West Ham United, the fact is the owners must shoulder their responsibility for where the club finds itself now . . . a couple of lucky results away from the brink of relegation.
    David Sullivan, David Gold and Karren Brady chose to ignore the evidence of Allardyce’s previous 25 years in management – a quarter-of a century in which he’d failed to win a single meaningful trophy while consistently playing probably the most wretched football ever seen in the English top flight – when they rescued him from the dole queue in the summer of 2011.
    In trying to salvage the disaster they had inflicted on the club with their implausible appointment of hapless Avram Grant a year earlier (just after he had taken Portsmouth down), they carelessly turned a blind eye to irrefutable widespread evidence that they were putting the club in the hands of a tactically inflexible managerial dinosaur with a well-deserved reputation as the biggest long-ball advocate in the history of the Premier League.
    Those negative tactics from the dark ages served him well for many years at Bolton Wanderers but they were never going to be tolerated for too long at West Ham, where we have a tradition of expecting a little more creativity from managers and players.
    Allardyce and West Ham are incompatible and the owners should have known better. I was pleased to hear that David Sullivan stood up at last week’s awards dinner to puncture a few egos and bring a sense or harsh reality to the swanky proceedings, but it should never have come to this. Hopefully, another costly lesson has been learned.
    But what did any of us really expect from Allardyce? While I was surprised that even he had the front to mockingly cup his ears at a relatively small group of angry, frustrated fans who had the temerity to boo him (yes Sam, make no mistake, it was YOU they were jeering at, not your players), the way West Ham have played under him has been as woefully predictable as his ‘tactics’.
    “He’ll do a job for us,” came the defiant cry from the BS defence committee whenever any of us questioned his suitability to the top job at Upton Park. True, he did deliver on his mandate from the board by returning us to the Promised Land at the first time of asking, although maybe the delirious scenes following the play-off final – our first day out at Wembley since 1981 – papered over a few cracks. West Ham had failed to beat either of the two teams that finished above them, Reading and Southampton, and in all honesty Blackpool were the better side at Wembley, where a late Vaz Te goal against the run of play clinched promotion and probably saved lucky BS his job.
    The counter-argument to BS being acclaimed as some mythical go-to man of clubs in distress is that quite a number of other half-competent managers, given the depth of squad and financial resources he inherited compared to his second tier rivals, would have equally got the club promoted from the Championship.
    Using the same rationale, and as I’ve had to repeatedly remind those who’ve been blinded by BS’s bull**** and his sycophantic mates in the media, winning football does not have to be ugly. Do you really believe that hoofing endless high balls in the general direction of our big lump up front, in the vain hope that someone might feed off the scraps, is the ONLY way to Premier League salvation? Look at Swansea and look at Southampton – two clubs much smaller than ours who have both relatively recently been promoted to the top flight and stayed there without compromising their footballing principles. In his first season in English football, Michael Laudrup arrived from Getafe in Spain to guide the Swans to ninth place, won the League Cup (their first trophy in 100 years) and qualified them for Europe. Oh, and he didn’t do too badly with the signing of star strikers Michu and Bony either.
    It would be hard enough to swallow BS’s long-ball dogma and negative tactics – putting greater emphasis on keeping clean sheets than trying to score goals – if it actually produced results. But when it repeatedly ends in tedious goalless draws and defeats . . . well, who in their right mind wants to pay good money to watch that?
    If promotion didn’t quite dupe the board into fully believing that BS was the second coming, then a 10th place finish on Hammers’ return to the Premier League surely did. They will now begin paying hefty compensation to a man who, despite never having won anything in his 25-year career, was inexplicably elevated to the status of 13th highest paid manager in world football when awarded a new two-year contract worth an annual salary of £2.95m at the end of 2012-13.
    On the surface, to finish halfway up the table was no mean achievement. But scratch beyond that gloss veneer and you’ll see that only five points separated the ninth-placed team (Swansea City) and 16th (Newcastle United). The directors only had to make a cursory glance at Hammers’ recent history to see a dangerous recurring pattern of managers enjoying one satisfactory season followed immediately by a disastrous one, as this table illustrates:
    Glenn Roeder 7th (2001-02) 18th (relegated in 2002-03)
    Alan Pardew 9th (2005-06) 18th (when sacked in Dec 2006)
    Alan Curbishley 10th (2006-07) 10th (2007-08)
    Gianfranco Zola 9th (2008-09) 17th (2009-10)
    Allardyce can’t complain about being sacked now. He has been handsomely rewarded throughout his three-year tenure and he’ll sail off into the sunset much richer than when West Ham short-sightedly plucked him from obscurity and gave his ego a new lease of life.
    His team has gone backwards and this season the entertainment value has been zilch, absolutely dire. It would be easy for him to blame what has been a season-long struggle on injuries to key players but the fact is his one-dimensional approach to every game is built around one lone target man whose fitness remains questionable.
    There is clearly no Plan B, the manager and the players are bereft of ideas and let’s face facts . . . save for an unprecedented run of four straight wins in February, we could be back in the Championship by now. That we are relieved to still be clinging on to the Premier League’s TV riches to clear our bank debt owes much more to the ineptitude of the teams who ended up in the bottom three than anything BS and his players have done beyond those three results against Spurs.
    Whoever follows BS, it will not be a seamless transition. If we assume that the new incumbent will be asked – no, make that implored – to follow clear terms of reference to re-introduce a traditional passing game that will at least raise entertainment levels and give the long-suffering fans some semblance of value for their hefty admission money, then that will mean trying to implement fundamental changes to the ‘style’ of the team he will inherit.
    Whilst some players will be offloaded this summer, it won’t be easy to shift the big earners towards the exit door. In several cases, it will prove impossible.
    If Andy Carroll isn’t the new man’s cup of tea, then we’ll have a big problem in more ways than one. Who will want to take an injury-prone, one-dimensional player who cost £17m-plus in transfer fees (how Liverpool have missed him) and a reported £80,000 per week in wages over a six-year contract? Remember, in the period before BS turned Carroll’s loan period into a full transfer last summer, absolutely no other club showed any interest in signing him. It was only at this point that the England striker finally accepted that it was either West Ham or wilderness and belatedly pledged his allegiance to the claret and blue flag. Yet we still went ahead and smashed the club’s record transfer fee to get him.
    Which club will be even remotely interested in the ageing legs of Kevin Nolan, who still has two years left on his original five-year contract and is reportedly on a basic of £50,000 per week? Much as BS and Nolan appear besotted with each other, this high-earning captain of rapidly diminishing value is very unlikely to walk away and accept less money elsewhere any time soon. He will be 32 at the start of next season; 34 when his contract is up.
    And then there is the crazy issue surrounding BS’s cosy long-term relationship with his favoured agent and pal Mark Curtis, dating back to at least 1996, which journalist Daniel Taylor highlighted with a piece in a recent issue of The Observer. As Taylor pointed out, at the last count the controversial Curtis now has under contract or links to not only the departing West Ham boss, but nine (yes, NINE!) of his first team squad: Carroll, Nolan, Jarvis, Tomkins, Adrian, Demel, O’Brien, Collison and Jaaskelainen. It’s wishful thinking to hope that BS and Curtis will bugger off and take their unwanted players with them. I read somewhere that 27-year-old part-time right-back Joey O’Brien is on £33,000 a week but the website concerned must have added an extra ‘3’ in error. Surely not even Curtis can be that persuasive, nor Gold and Sullivan that gullible?
    At a hugely inflated combined cost of an estimated minimum £33m in transfer fees alone, Carroll (only two league goals in 14 matches this season), Downing (one goal in 34 games) and Jarvis (four goals in 26 games) are probably worth barely half as much today. Downing will be 30 at the start of next season; 32 when his four-year contract ends.
    Jarvis will be 30 when his current deal expires three years from now. The two under-performing wingers are reportedly receiving a weekly wage of somewhere between £45-50,000 a week. Good job they’re not performance-related deals tied to goal bonuses, or else they’d both be selling the Big Issue this summer.
    Quite how this ludicrous situation where a manager and his agent friend have assumed such power and influence at a Premier League was allowed to happen is incomprehensible. Talk about a conflict of interests. It’s a tangled web that the club will do well to extract itself from without too much financial pain.
    By sacking BS, the owners have transferred the spotlight and pressure back onto themselves but I very much hope that they will not allow the fact that the move to the Olympic Stadium is just two years away to cloud their judgement when it comes to choosing his successor. Knee-jerk appointments should have no place in a club that has serious ambitions to be playing European football in the next five-to-10 years. Now is the time to build a solid platform that will serve the club well for generations to come.
    So back to our original question: who’s next?
    Rumours that the hierarchy are to focus their attention exclusively on British candidates will hopefully prove unfounded, if you consider the dearth of quality coaching talent out there. The abysmal treatment Malky Mackay – one of the early front-runners, if the bookies are to be believed – received at the hands of the lunatic Cardiff owner earlier this season should not camouflage the fact that his team were no joy to watch and already looking doomed well before Solskjaer was brought in to perform the last rites. A nice guy who understands the ‘West Ham Way’, but we should be setting our sights much higher.
    OK, so we are not going to lure a Pellegrini, a Wenger or a Mourinho (Heaven forbid) to East London but Michael Laudrup has proved himself very capable in all areas of management in a very short time at Swansea, while Spain’s La Liga has several potential candidates, notably Luis Enrique. The former Spain, Barcelona and Real Madrid captain looks ripe to follow in the impressive footsteps of Martinez, Poyet and Pochettino by making his mark in England’s top flight. Our board would do well to consider why fewer and fewer British managers are not being offered good Premier League jobs. It’s no mystery. The vast majority simply are not good enough.
    Whoever comes in should be heading up a restructured football management set-up that promotes long-term continuity and understand that he must follow clear guidelines laid down by the owners, not given carte blanche – as seems to have been the case with Grant and BS – to do whatever he chooses in terms of playing style. Don’t appoint a manager and tell him to “do whatever it takes to keep us in the Premier League”. Allardyce was a short-term fix; his replacement should be a man with a clear vision of the long-term future and how best to achieve it.
    The new Head Coach should be presented with a clear blueprint that looks much like the following:
    *Set the team up in a way to always encourage attacking, enterprising creative and entertaining football in the best traditions of the club. Of course it’s not always possible to play offensively (other teams impose themselves on you, so tactics must always be flexible and applied and adapted to different situations), but there should always be a naturalINTENT to go forward, as teams produced by Greenwood, Lyall, Bonds and Redknapp always did.
    *If we are going to lose, let’s at least do so in a little style – not go out cautiously hoping for a draw, looking to nick a goal on the break, only to then losing without even having had an attempt at goal.
    *Although the pressure on modern managers to produce immediate results is paramount given the game’s obsession with money, he must not ignore the need to keep half an eye on the development of young players. While vowing never to throw them to the lions in the horrific manner BS did in the FA Cup debacle at Forest last January, he should be expected to slowly but steadily integrate them in the first team squad as quickly as possible, for the long-term good of the club.
    *Appoint at least one, ideally two, coaching assistants (if necessary, in addition to his preferred first choice if he already has someone in mind to be his No.2) with past West Ham connections who understand the ethos of the club and what it means to the supporters. They should be coaches who have the talent and ambition to aspire to the top job themselves one day – not just put out the training ground cones and behave as mere ‘yes’ men around their boss.
    *Adopt the American football and cricket coaching philosophy by bringing in specialist part-time coaches who will command respect and who have played the game at a high level – for example, Tony Cottee or Stuart Slater/strikers, Alvin Martin or Julian Dicks/defenders – to come in and work on an occasional, affordable ad-hoc basis to support the head coach and his full-time assistants. Fresh faces can also help to give the players a lift and provide variety to training routines.
    *Understand and respect the club’s history and the important people who helped shape it. The ‘West Ham Way’ is to be jealously guarded and cherished, not mocked and ridiculed as it has been by BS. This should always apply to the manager, players and, yes, the owners too.
    Above all, the next manager of West Ham United must promise us all one thing: to give us our football back.
    Tony McDonald is editor of the retro EX magazine at [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

    Unsurprisingly I agree 100% with Tony. McDonald's take on Fat Sham Rolladice's tenure of our West Ham and we can't afford another season stagnating in his mire of hit and hope durge and must move on under a new manager with a fresh new vision and mission of modern, fluid, attractive and adaptable football, some one who won't alienate and divide the fans and will see us United once more!
    WHTID
    Irons In The Soul


    Last edited by Hungry Hammer 66 on Sat 10 May 2014, 6:29 pm; edited 1 time in total
    Tony P
    Tony P
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    Post  Tony P on Sat 10 May 2014, 3:40 pm

    Good article
    Jiggs
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    Post  Jiggs on Sat 10 May 2014, 4:29 pm

    Very good article   clap  clap  clap


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    Campo
    Campo
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    Post  Campo on Sun 11 May 2014, 1:06 am

    I will rread that tomoorwo when i aint shiiiitfaced

     cheesey grin 


    only kidding just pissed

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