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The curious incident of the team in 8th...

darrenharry's picture
Submitted by darrenharry on Fri, 16/02/2024 - 11:37

Well hello comrades.

I trust all is well in the garden of .org? certainly less muddied than that of our team and the seemingly befuddled view of our fans these last few months.

What a strange juxtaposition we find ourselves floating around in currently.

The world and his wife (and mistress) seemingly have an opinion and a firm belief, tossed into a melting pot of social media, sprinkled with mental health and topped with lashing of sarcasm. Add into this the growling number of podcasts or YouTube channels, all competing for advertising and clicks (anything to not do a real days work) and it can reach a deafening crescendo. You’ll be forgiven for not knowing which way is up (or down) these days…
Throw into this football fans tribalism, incredibly varied intelligence and supporters knowledge ranging from those who have been watching for 50 years+ and those that have been here 5 minutes, plus those (pesky) armchair fans from far flung corners of the world, and it really is the craziest time to try to reach a fair, balanced view of the current situation.
All have tried it. I have on twitter….but realised quickly that you have to remember humour is incredibly important, as is respect. I’ve been drawn into many an argument and realised the rabbit hole was becoming dangerous. Some people aren’t there for a debate, it’s about causing maximum confusion and grief.
So how to unpick this? Noone can really, but for what its worth, I’ve tried to contextualise my thinking below. You may not agree, and that’s your opinion and that’s just as credible as mine, but that’s what makes the world go round.
I won’t be referencing Sullivan and Brady, as we all know they should have gone a long time ago and will eat away like parasites until they are gone.
So.
David Moyes
So, for the most part, for me, an undoubted success. Top half finishes and a trophy. Irrespective of everything else, that, from this club’s history, is a top achievement. There have been some great results, some great journeys, some great buys, some excellent counter attacking footballing.
But.
And this is perhaps the crux of the argument for me.
But.
If we have a manager that has achieved this, has a trophy, has us in 8th, the fact there are “but” statements, from a fan base that for my 40 years of attending have been bereft of any meaningful cheer, the fact that word exists among a rational, balanced fanbase, in my opinion, speaks volumes.
And no, it isn’t because we’ve got above our station, it isn’t because we demand more or better. Far from it. I know no fan that believes we deserve to be top 6 or challenging for top honours, not really.
What I do know, from every game I attend with friends and family and speaking to people around me in the Sir Trevor Brooking upper, is that they are bored.
Bored to tears with what they watch, week in week out.
And that, for me, is the worst thing that could have ever happened to West Ham.
More than the stadium move, more than losing our best players.
Boring.
That’s a real killer.
West Ham, and when I first attended in 1984, was about fun. Attacking, 4-2-4, one touch, creative, ball playing defenders, keeping the ball on the ground.
Looking to score at every opportunity.
And of course, it always failed! But my god it was fun. Laughing at bad players, mistakes. Crying at bad players and mistakes. Pulling my hair out. But that was the point. You never knew what you were going to get (well, mainly defeats!)
But the buzz, the thrill. Beating the big boys, losing to the rest.
Now I know things move on. Times change. Owners change.
But what I’ve never seen is that fundamental basis of “fun” change until now.
What we now have, is a more cautious than ever approach from a manager that has caution intravenously delivered into his blood stream.
The first creeping of the fun reducer was the baffling lack of use of the bench.
So the rules allow 5.
You can have a total of 9 on the bench. So virtually a whole new team, and you can change half of them.
So that’s potentially 20 players out of the 25 you are allowed in a squad, can potentially be involved on matchday. So, 80% of your squad can feel involved to some degree. Push on in training, try to get the managers attention…
You can see where I’m going with this.
The lack of bench usage by Moyes has many catastrophic consequences in the modern game.
Firstly, it’s an inability to tactically change matches (that would mean having a plan B though so…)
Secondly, the first XI are driven into the ground.
Thirdly the 9 on the bench, get little or no time to change/influence the match or showcase their talent and show their worth.
It begins to build resentment from reserve players that they feel they could be challenging, it builds resentment toward the manager, and it will increase frustration, and cause a players to either try too hard and make mistakes, or not play their natural game.
And I feel that’s what we’ve seen an accumulation of in the last 18 months. Ex first teamers, being marginalised, but given no glimmer of hope or incentive to get back in.
The running joke was who would we see on 78 mins, Benrahma or Fornals…just so predictable, late and pointless. And that wasn’t because the first XI were doing so well. We were bottom half last year. Bowen went through a shocking loss of form, played every game, Soucek has been woeful for a huge amount of time, plays every game. Players know this.
We now have almost 40% of the squad looking to move away, or when they (ever) get on, know its almost pointless.
This means another mass squad rebuild in the summer. An aging squad. No youth brought through (despite them winning everything last year).
Oh hold on, he’s played Mubama a handful of times….no, doesn’t count does it…
This lack of production being trained through and rotating a squad that has good players in it, is, in my opinion, neglect.
Tactics.
Now here, I can’t really apply to much negativity, as we knew what we were getting here. It’s what he does, negate. His history is solid foundations, well organised and hard to beat. Everton were always beige under him. Punching above their weight.
However, even by his standards, we’ve retreated so far into our shell, the defence are holding the line just outside Stratford station.
Sure, the front 3, when firing and fit, are among the best in the league. But you cannot keep expecting your troops to win battles on scraps. Nor enjoy it.
The possession stats are important.
Because the game is football, not “negelctball”.
The league will find you out.
Form is temporary, confidence cannot be bought.
We now have a situation where when we have possession, we almost don’t know what to do with it.
Football is a rhythmical game.
Its tempo, muscle memory, fluid.
You cant keep turning the tap on and off.
As a result we go sideways, sideways, back. Forward, back, sideways. Long. Lose ball. Repeat.
Its boring.
It’s been the main mantra for fans groaning and becoming fed up.
This part is the complete antithesis of why I attend or watch football.
Was a time we used to be a lot of peoples second team, because we were fun to watch. Or at least pleasant on the eye, trying to play the right way.
No (real) striker. No (real) left hand side. Aging full backs and our best centre half cant run. A “midfielder” that plays every game but cannot pass.
We’ve brought in another midfielder to join the other 3 midfielders…
I just do not and cannot see the logic in any of these decisions.
I’ll be honest, that win away to Tottenham, was the first time I didn’t celebrate our goals. I was just dumfounded how on earth we had stolen anything. But the logical part of my brain was saying “you know this isn’t happening again anytime soon, no one gets this lucky, and who would we rather have of the 2 managers).
I know my answer.
Sure. We may or may not consolidate a top half finish.
If we win the Europa, I’ll have to re-evaluate all of my understanding of football! But I think I know the answer to that too.
Which would leave me staring at another season of Moyesball.
Boring.
And that could see me finally hanging up my scarf in terms of attending.
Bored.

nevillenixon's picture

Well said Dazza, better than I could have! I am bored witless with trying to inject some positive energy into observations about the club. The club I once loved for most ALL of the reasons you mentioned, yes we didn't win anything but we played exciting, pleasing on the eye football AND we WERE most people's favourite 2nd team. Even though I have a season ticket I don't go anymore, I cannot bear to see the Moyesball being played out! The stats say that this is the club's best run in history, they also say you can run across the M25 without being run over, but do you want to take the risk? Until Moyes is gone the club will slowly eat itself.

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13 users have voted.
boogerscaravan's picture

Agree with you both. I started going to the Boleyn in 1978. The salad days as it's turned out. Just post 75 and just pre 80. Some of my happiest times.

Once I'd more or less got through the 80's I realised that the banter on the terraces, up and down Green Street , The Duke, and The Tavern and Queens, was as much part of being a West Ham fan as the way we played the game. The result sometimes paled into insignificance.

Yes times have changed, football is a result driven business. But FFS, where's the fun gone??

Boring, bored, dull, lifeless. Quite sad really!!

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13 users have voted.

ooo Matron!!

mcbikeman's picture

We have never demanded a top 6 champions league finish we dream about those yes but most West Ham fans have there feet firmly on the ground and all we want is a team that entertain us either winning or not but something to look forward to when we play but all we are getting is groundhog day and it kills any enthusiasm one has for the game and that is a blight put on us by the inaction and inability to change from boardroom to the manager

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13 users have voted.

Bored is a word i never use,as in my life if something im doing dosent interest me,i stop and dont do it again immediately.......I havent really wanted to admit to it,but after reading the above,and after going to watch this club for over 50 years,and at around 30 minutes into each game i have to leave,im going to have to agree and admit,its awful,and going to watch this team is really a bad habit,and has turned out seriously boring.I still like the day out,the beer etc,but the football is dire.Its not the same as the years down Green Street,the BOM,im afraid is a habit that i have just got used to.We have rode our luck in the last few seasons,and i have even stuck up for Moyes regime on here at times,as who would we of got in,at certain parts of a season,but im going to have to say now,if he allows us to get a spanking at home from Spurs like the Arse did,then he hasnt got any idea what us fans pay our money into the club for,and must leave with immediate effect.

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10 users have voted.

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