Pandemic pandemonium

Going viral – but not in a good way

Don’t just stand there
Let’s get to it
Strike a pose
There’s nothing to it
VAGUE

@dirtyepic7 after Madonna

FIRST the good news – without any live football now or in the foreseeable future to indulge our passion, here’s a link to a substantial library of past games. Enjoy!

From now on this blog will become darker. As a fan of the zombie film genre our immediate outlook appears bleak – especially as we can’t “Go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for this all to blow over.” The cold reality is people and businesses will struggle, friends and loved ones will die. For most of us under the age of 80 it will be our nearest experience of the privations of war.

Football’s response whether at club, FA, Premier league, UEAFA or FIFA level echoes that of the governments either side of the Atlantic. Requiring honesty and leadership we instead get tribal responses as various factions indulge their favourite pastimes of jockeying for advantage. Given the very real likelihood no football will be played before August a domestic three-week delay to buy some time and kick the can (ball?) down the road is pusillanimous.

This situation is exactly what executives pay themselves huge wages for but they’re sitting on their hands. Don’t hold your breath and expect much in the way of enlightenment from this week’s UEFA summit either – the blindingly obvious decision to postpone this summer’s appallingly constructed Euros will be the most on offer.

The season is surely over and in the vacuum of leadership the usual rentagob suspects step forward. Which brings us nicely to the West Ham Vice Chair “Lady” Karren Brady. Her column in Saturday’s The Sun was offensive and deliberately so. By claiming the season should be void and highlighting it would mean Liverpool forfeiting a League title that surely not even the most one-eyed Manchester United fan would deny them was crass and once again brought West Ham the wrong sort of publicity. Never mind it was being published in a paper with a history of offending Scousers.

Send in the clowns

As with football, so our nation. Giving up on leaking bits and pieces behind the paywall of the Telegraph and “unnamed government sources” Prime Minister Boris Johnson was put up in interview yesterday (Monday) to answer questions. A feat he applied himself to with a customary lack of rigour. The country is in desperate need of a war leader – but never mind Churchill we didn’t even get Chamberlain. Just who was it again first coined the phrase “an inverted pyramid of piffle”? By suggesting people don’t gather together but not banning public events he’s effectively denied businesses an insurance payout and thrown them under a bus. Everywhere he moves a trail of debris follows.

For both Brady and Johnson a lack of trust and divisive stance negates the option for them to ask us to pull together after doing their very best to render apart. (Note to those who think they may detect a party-political bias here: There is little to no reason to have expected any better had the result of the most recent election been any different). There is a psychology study of panic buying but equally supermarket raids speak as much to a dearth of calm or authoritative leadership from our executive.

Options seem limited – especially as we won’t be going down the pub (did Johnson say whether we could or not – I can’t remember?) never mind playing football for some considerable time. The best suggestion – it will not happen – would be for the Premier League to collect up all the TV money owing for this season and divvy it out equally among all 92 clubs to stave off the chance of extinction for League One and Two clubs. An Italian idea to split the current season of two years appears more realistic, even if wouldn’t help smaller clubs it at least has the benefit of keeping the lawyers at bay.

The common theme is people revelling in their power without accepting even a scintilla of responsibility. We must fill the vacuum. Sport can bring people together – let’s find other ways of building communities? Be kind to each other! Perhaps stick a note through the old boy’s door down the road offering to do some shopping, give your mum a ring etc. Perhaps take the best piece of advice I’ve heard: Act not as though you’re scared of catching the virus – but as though you already have.
Most of all take care.

xxx

PS Here’s a public information film from Vietnam on the virus. It could take up three minutes of your self-isolation. It’s also a fucking banger. You’re welcome.

Better than any UK Eurovision entry

Arsenal 1-0 West Ham

Moyes reacts after Antonio made a mess of another chance

SUCH was the ludicrous manner in which the Hammers contrived to lose at the Emirates, teams of Wiccan specialists are waving crystals, reciting spells and wafting smoke to reverse the curse that has quite clearly been placed on West Ham United Football Club. They needn’t bother – the cause of our malaise is much more prosaic – the collective failure of David Sullivan, Mario Husillos and Manuel Pellegrini to buy attacking players that can function in the Premier League.

The decision to get rid of strikers Javier Hernandez, Andy Carroll, Marko Arnautovic, Jordan Hugill and Lucas Perez last season can’t really in isolation be faulted. To replace them with only the moody Sebastien Haller and woeful Albian Ajeti is close to criminal. Michail Antonio strove manfully as a stand-in forward but as soon as presented with a goal scoring opportunity for himself or a colleague made the sort of enthusiastic mess of things you might expect when inviting your young kids to “help in the kitchen” at half-term. A brilliant off the cuff player, his lack of a football brain was cruelly exposed.

Jarrod Bowen has real promise

Behind the forwards Felipe Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko, Jack Wilshere and Carlos Sanchez (all Pellegrini signings) have offered next to nothing. The first pair on the list are “almost good” players who like many “flair” players do little out of possession – but not nearly enough with the ball to justify their elevated status. Payet they are not. Best we don’t speak of the other two.

Returning to a favoured theme, under Sullivan there is no strategy for team building and players are bought haphazardly. Pellegrini’s monstrous wages paid in part for complicity in the arrangement as Husillos’ forays into the transfer market were most likely to line his own wallet (why else Roberto?) while Sullivan’s dabbles lack coherence and seem more about keeping fans quiet than future profit on or off the pitch.

This shambles of a policy includes managers -David Moyes’ ability to build a team is legendary and as a long-term appointment could be excellent – even if he would probably make a better Director of Football. So Sullivan twice appoints the former Everton and Manchester United boss to extinguish the fires lit by more favoured appointees. Moyes’ modest buys Jarrod Bowen and Tomas Soucek (in this game Moyes can be criticised for bringing the Czech international on too late for the tiring Noble) appear to offer the side so much more than the glamour signings even if Pelle buy Pablo Fornals has developed a refreshing work ethic under the Scot.

A low press with Bowen and Antonio attacking with pace on the counter seems a decent gameplan given the players available. It’s certainly an improvement on Pellegrini’s lazy “go out and work some magic” tactics and might just pull the club out of the mire for one more season. Surely, however, it’s only a matter of time before the club’s almost annual flirtation with relegation turns into full sex and we er… go down.

The deciding factor in the Arsenal game was VAR, because of course it was. West Ham haven’t had a positive meaningful ruling from the system all season – and once again the most marginal of decisions went against the Hammers. As said before, the system should borrow from cricket on tight offside decisions and go with umpire’s (or in this case referee’s) call. That would make far too much sense – as would a joined-up West Ham recruitment policy.

Going down. Under

West Ham go globetrotting

AT first glance West Ham’s recently announced pre-season tour looks a bad idea. However, on closer examination it immediately becomes apparent it’s actually completely fucking idiotic. With all respect to Aussie Hammers who have never seen their heroes in the flesh, a trip half way across the globe in the middle of pre-season in order to play Crystal Palace of the Premier League and Brisbane Roar – a middling team in a poor league is some way short of optimum preparation.

Previous tours to the US and New Zealand have resulted in a spate of injuries and there is no reason to think this one might be any different. Jack Wilshere can barely make Rush Green without hurting himself, so a bite from Queensland’s lethal brown snake appears all but nailed on.

Preparation for the rigours of 38 games plus season (46 if we are relegated) should be with a technical view to players hitting the ground running and maintaining that level of fitness throughout a demanding season. Instead of which the Irons squad face two 20 hour plus flights and 12 hours of jetlag to play in two meaningless friendlies. Do the club still possess a sports science team – and if so it would be interesting to know how they felt about the trip?

Six years ago, the players made a similar journey to New Zealand. And then-manager Sam Allardyce was less than pleased with the schedule as he remarked: “We only got back from New Zealand on Monday, which was probably a trip too far. The journey … was too far. We got a few injuries, that was the biggest disappointment.”

An all too familiar sight – Ryan Fredericks lies injured

Given the current small, ageing and injury-prone squad a good pre-season would be designed to minimise the risk of further injury. But sod those concerns, sod coronavirus and sod global warming – the first team face a ludicrous journey to a backwater city in a backwater league to flog a few shirts in a market that is small and far from emerging.

As ever with our inept owners a dollar in the bank now is considered worth more than any future investment. A clue to the reasons behind the tour can be found in the announcement on the official site that reads more as advertorial than any guide for fans. However much money the club receive it will be chicken feed compared to the rewards of the Premier League. Whether the club are seeking to re-establish a future at the top level or rejoin the elite all efforts should be directed towards onfield success, not a bung for club officials.

There is of course, an alternative scenario. Maybe our board believe Brisbane, Australia is far enough away for them not to face the sort of protest that has become the norm in our own country?

West Ham 3-1 Southampton

Bowen strikes

THE club narrative that protests harm the team has been thoroughly dismembered. Protests at Liverpool resulted in defeat but a sparkling performance against the Champions-elect. Thousands of protestors before the Southampton game preceded the most complete onfield performance of the season as the away side were brushed aside by the Hammers pace and power.

There is little doubt however, the David Sullivan-inspired PR offensive will continue with the latest instalment (more offensive than PR) involving rolling out a former ticket tout and alickadoo named Terry Creasey claiming “Bobby Moore would be turning in his grave” at the protests.

Aside from the fact his quotes in the Mail are so on-message they appear to have been written by Sullivan himself, they open the intriguing prospect of further revelations from “the other side”. As a manager himself Ron Greenwood would assert David Moyes must pick Pablo Fornals. And protest organisers Hammers United will have missed a trick if they don’t employ a medium to prove Vic Watson has always loved #GSBOUT.

Fans protest

There is a serious side to this – Sullivan has long sought to monetise the memory of Moore – to now use his legacy as a propaganda tool sits perfectly with a classless and cynical attitude towards death. This is the man who, let’s not forget, used the suicide of former lover and porn star Mary Millington as an excuse to release a posthumous exploitation film described by IMDB as a “tawdry tribute” that featured a lengthy interview by himself. For the record, Sullivan dumped Millington prior to her untimely death after drug abuse and depression (hers) affected their relationship.

As much as writing about Sullivan’s squalid and seedy past is a chore, Saturday’s game was a delight. Supporters were re-energised by both the pre-match protest and Monday night’s efforts against Liverpool that promised better results against less accomplished sides. Southampton, with the sort of lethargy often exhibited by mid-table sides at the fag-end of the season played their part.

Manager David Moyes played a side to have a go (he won’t play such a side for every game) and striker Sebastien Haller, relishing the space created as Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen regularly got themselves in front of the “Baguette Batistuta” played hell with the Saints defence. At the other end of the pitch it was obvious work had been done on set plays with six men defending the goal area at corners – also striking was a new attitude – perhaps a result of the appointment of motivator Kevin Nolan to the coaching staff. On that point it’s worth saying football whispers suggest Moyes’ struggles to appoint back room staff was due to a widespread feeling that stay up or go down staff would all be released at the end of the season.

Goals from Bowen, Haller and Antonio were more than enough to dispatch the South-coast visitors and leapfrogged the club above Bournemouth on goal difference and out of the relegation zone – a net return of only minus three against Manchester City and Liverpool away now looks a good return. The only negative from the day were the fading legs and lungs of poor Mark Noble. His lack of pace was directly responsible for Southampton’s goal and the days of him being an automatic choice appear numbered.

#GSBOUT

Take your own advice Sullivan

WEST HAM supporters were simply immense at Liverpool despite the decision by the club to reduce allocation from the normal 3,000 to just 1,800. The away contingent outsung the home side and fully got behind the team – but most of all displayed quite clearly via Sky Sports how and why they want David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady to vacate their positions on the board.

The move by Sullivan to enlist the help of so many of his paid staff of ex-players to spread a message that fans should support the team is both bizarre and counterintuitive. Hammers United have been very clear all along fans should protest the board but support the team. The focus of the discontent is the lack of input the toxic three have given our club. Fans go to great expense journeying up and down the country to support the team. Meanwhile, Sullivan and Gold starve the first XI, reserves, Academy and Women’s team of cash at the same time as loading debt onto the club to line their own pockets.

Karren Brady’s “support” involves doing the club reputational harm via her column in The Sun newspaper. This week’s laughathon involved the Lady beseeching us all to “reflect on the importance of kindness” in the wake of the apparent suicide of Caroline Flack. Leaving aside the fact her own colleague David Gold, showing all the sensitivities of the Duke of Edinburgh, liked a Tweet claiming Flack to be “weak” (whispers are the club have now banned him from social media) Brady’s plea equates to Syrian leader Bashar al Assad taking to the press to denounce tinpot dictators carpet bombing their own civilians.

No doubt Robert Snodgrass, Andy Carroll and Daniel Sturridge, among many who have been the subject of Brady’s vitriol in previous columns, will be reaching into their boots to pull out the very hollowest of laughs at her newly-discovered piety. Just as ill-fitting is Sullivan’s Damascene conversion from dumping fans into the London Stadium’s sterile pit for financial gain (has anybody found out who owns the company Boleyn Phoenix yet?) to abruptly flooding the ether with messages about how crucial it is supporters get behind the side.

This fan believes the protest atmosphere at Anfield, which the team appeared to react positively towards, would signal the need for a protest at every game.

No six appeal for Reidy

Winston Reid

WINSTON REID has left West Ham on an extended loan deal to Sporting Kansas City of the USA’s Major Soccer League. This blog wishes the New Zealand international every success in the States after 10 seasons with the Hammers. Apart from that final, historic, match-winning goal at Upton Park, the centre back produced at least five Premier League seasons of top quality, highly physical and committed defending, was awarded Hammer of the Year in 2013 and was in a lot of people’s Team of the Decade.

But…

There is so often a ‘but’ following a glowing testimonial – and here it comes now: Why on earth was Reid, a player whose character was writing cheques his body couldn’t cash over the preceding couple of seasons awarded a new six-year contract at the club in August 2017? Aged 29, it was pretty clear the player’s physique was crumbling. Reid has made just 17 Premier League starts since that signature and none in the last two seasons. A shocking knee injury against Swansea was not so much bad lack as sadly, horrifically, inevitable.

Chair David Sullivan would no doubt point to the interest shown in the All White by Tottenham and Arsenal. He said at the time: “We want to keep our best players in Claret and Blue and Winston is undoubtedly one of them so, in line with our normal policy, we review the contracts of players who are doing well for the Club and reward and extend them when the opportunity arises.

He hilariously added: “As a West Ham fan, I am absolutely delighted that he has pledged his future to the Club and I am sure he will play a central role in our challenge to become one of the top teams in this country over the coming seasons.”

At the point Reid signed up, another player on a six-year deal, Andy Carroll, was about to enter his sixth year at West Ham (the first on loan) having made just 74 appearances over the previous four seasons and was out with yet another long-term injury.

Andy Carroll in a typical pose

Sullivan treats player trading not as a speculator doing his best to work in the market and re-invest profit into the club, but a collector loathed to let players go.

Nobody, we are told, works harder than Sulley to get players to join West Ham. Perhaps, in a rare flash of self-recognition the owner realised just how rubbish he is and couldn’t face more of the same. The most ikely scenario however, is he believes big sides and “selling clubs“ are mutually exclusive and thinks giving Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Fucking Masuaku new five-year deals is great business. In which case he is an idiot.

It’s true clubs with huge available funds don’t need to turn a profit to survive. Sides such as Barcelona, Manchester United and Real Madrid will never really struggle so long as they maintain a global image – even if, and this is important, all three are relatively speaking struggling at present (oh how we at West Ham would love such slim pickings!)

However, the current European and World Club Champions – Liverpool in case you haven’t been reminded in at least 10 minutes – are a selling club. For three of the last four seasons they have turned a profit in player trading. Sales of players such as Raheem Sterling, Luis Suarez and Phillippe Coutinho (bought for under £25million, sold for around ten times the amount) keep the club in clover. In contrast to West Ham, Liverpool would have no hesitation letting a fading or injured player leave.

Have we mentioned Andy Carroll?

Lights go out

THE Sullivan and Brady edifice is crumbling. Just as Samson pulled down the Temple of Dagon from within using his innate power, so a teenaged girl with great strength of character has laid bare how Karren Brady controls the club.

Amilah (the name roughly translates as “doer of good deeds”) posts on Twitter under the handle @MemberOfJSB and launched a thread on Sunday detailing how a desire to make becoming a mascot cheaper was first ignored, then turned against her. To summarise, Amilah was appalled at the £700 cost of being a matchday mascot and having been accepted onto the Junior Supporters’ Board (a sub-group of the Official Supporters Board) made it her goal to do something about it. A presentation she made was ignored, club minutes weren’t accurate and despite a request to do so weren’t changed to reflect her comments.

As a good fan representative, she asked for more information from the club. It was denied. Insult was added to injury when despite a four-month blackout from the club three mascot places were announced “following positive and continued discussions with our Junior Supporters Board sub-group.” Further emails were also ignored.

Samson destroys the Temple (anon, from the J Paul Getty Museum)

Leaving aside the issue of how expensive mascots are and how it reflects Brady’s desire to remove West Ham from those without substantial cash reserves, it highlights very nicely what we have long said about the OSB – it isn’t transparent, democratic or independent – and it serves Brady not the fans. Independent Supporters’ Associations Hammers United and WHUISA were absolutely correct when they refused to engage.

With the news that the Vice Chair refuses to give up her Sun column it would appear the Baroness has cemented for herself a role at the club where she is isn’t accountable to anybody, not even the owners.  Her creation, the OSB, invented as a method to shield her from fan opinion shares many of her qualities. Fans have long despaired at the haughty, charmless and spiteful social media proclamations from OSB Chair David Baker, seeing them as reflective of the tone of his boss. They are completely correct to do so.

Brady cannot survive this latest exposé of her methods – the mood music emanating from the club is more Walls Come Tumbling Down than You’re the Best Thing. Chair and owner Sullivan should grow a pair and get rid of her now. Following a period of introspection, (we recommend nothing longer than two minutes) he should reflect how he himself created the monster and then take the long-awaited decision to sell up.

#GSBOUT

Gold missed a good opportunity to shut up

David Gold – this is what a victim looks like

Feel my blood enraged
It’s just the fear of losing you
Don’t you know my name?
And you’ve been so long
I’ve been putting out the fire
With gasoline

David Bowie – Cat People

ANOTHER day, another chapter in the continued attempts of the West Ham Board to publicly humiliate themselves. This time it is David Gold – who has prostrated himself before the fourth estate with all the self-awareness of Prince Andrew “doing the right thing” by sitting down with Emily Maitlis.

A naked attempt to prime newspapers into accepting a narrative of “West Ham thugs” should so much as a single coin be lobbed during planned protests is the nearest this club comes to strategy. Hardly surprising when their intellectual heft is supplied by Press Officer Ben Campbell, a man who thinks banning journalists from pressers will result in more favourable coverage.

Supporters who thought they may be hard done by having been promised “A world class stadium for a world class team” only to be given a ground unfit for football and a series of relegation battles could not be more wrong. Their gripes were airily brushed aside by Gold with reference to a mythical cabbie with whom he had a half-hour discussion. Leaving aside the suspicion you could only afford half an hour in a black cab if you earn the sort of money David claims he doesn’t, we find out the real victim in all this is… David! Apparently, his granddaughter has read he’s a liar. (You can only think they haven’t had the “pornographer” conversation yet).

David assures us nobody listens to the cabbie and asks “Is he on the television? Is he in the paper? No. All that’s in the paper is the guy that wants to kill me or burn my house down“. Words that are quoted in The Sun, The Mirror, the BBC and… you get the point – even if poor David doesn’t. That West Ham are one of only two in the entire football league who refuse to listen to their fans gets lost somewhere along the line.

David Gold’s cabbie (by @Stanwhu1)

As supporters we thought protests were regarding our money being used to stuff the wallets of Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady. However, the reality is it’s David who is “hurt” – even if the pain is not so unbearable he won’t take time off from tilting at a “Barbados” straw man to repeat the lie. Spoiler alert – incoming lie: “I’ve not received a penny in ­salary or expenses from West Ham in 10 years”, says David, who is unaware the club publish accounts every year that show exactly to what extent he and his built-up shoe-wearing colleague Sullivan rinse the club.

In a fit of naked despair Gold goes on to say he knows what Manchester United Executive Ed Woodward feels like after the latter’s house was attacked by disgruntled supporters throwing flares. We wouldn’t seek to diminish the effect such an attack would have on a person. Not so Gold, as he boasts, “I’ve experienced it four or five times myself” – a claim undermined by his annual invitation for everybody in the entire world to visit his garden – which looks at first glance happily unscathed by pyrotechnics.

Shock, horror! David isn’t the only maligned member of the board – Brady “works her socks off” for the club. An odd expression given her predilection for Christian Louboutin shoes, but he does have a point – she’d have to work pretty bloody hard at the London Stadium to get anything done given the amount of time spent at The Apprentice and writing her highly acclaimed Sun column, never mind roles at Syco, Taveta, as well as covering up for alleged abuser and racist Sir Philip Green not to mention popping in and out of the House of Lords.

As much as Gold claims victimhood, the reality is he and his cohorts have enjoyed 10 years unfettered access to the media to spread their – let’s be kind and call it propaganda, not lies – whereas protesters have enjoyed about four weeks. As ever with entitlement, the privileged few always feel hard done by. Some advice David: Now would be a good time to give us a well-earned rest from your pompous, thoughtless and self-obsessed posturing. You could even sell up – it might give you time to explain to your granddaughter how pornographers exploit the lives of girls who once had hopes and dreams just like hers.

A good time for Brady to go

At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou

TODAY’S news that a West Ham supporter has been banned for the rest of the season for wearing a “GSB OUT” t-shirt while acting as a volunteer flag waver is merely the latest in a seemingly daily act of reckless self-harm by the board.

Leaving aside issues of what supporters might have been “incited” to do (nobody did anything), who suffered “annoyance” outside of the Director’s Box and what a “seasonal” ban involves (does the accused need to wait until the runner beans come up in David Gold’s garden?) we are made aware once again West Ham fans have no “say” in the running of the club. Furthermore, the letter is a fairly explicit warning to any other fan intent upon protest within a ground.

In tone and content, the letter is characteristic of the aggressive and adversarial stance Vice-Chair Karren Brady takes towards all supporter issues. As David Sullivan leaves her to deal with all non-football matters while he gets on with fucking up the playing side we can safely assume the letter dropped from her desk. Even if she employed underlings to sign it.

As the former Birmingham executive was paid £1.136million in the year to 2019 for a part-time job it seems as good a time as any to examine her worth to the club. First, a list of her achievements:

1. She won the Olympic Stadium bid.
2. Er…
3. That’s it.

In all fairness, that isn’t Brady’s only impact on the club and it is a matter of record that with West Ham having Newham Council and the London Legacy Development Corporation over a barrel as the only serious bidder for the ground she did gain possession of the metaphorical ball and slam it in top bins From all of two yards out.

Two days ago, in a spectacular own goal the club and Brady wrung a grovelling apology from Sky Sports Sunday Supplement for airing a show that including journalist guests running the club down. The phrase “HANDS IN THE TILL” uttered by Guardian columnist Jonathan Liew caused particular offence. On this occasion we are going to agree with the club and reassert the phrase “HANDS IN THE TILL” should never have been used. Although quite what the club think they gained by making a story of the “HANDS IN THE TILL” line is open to debate. Especially when they were taking to task a company that pays them over a million pounds per annum.

If you know you know

It was Brady who was charged with organising the migration from Upton Park to the renamed London Stadium. In a display of typical cackhandedness, she made her overarching priority filling the stadium with no thought for ambience and no reference to the wider football world. Her “plus two” ticket scheme and lack of a family enclosure or singing section (we accept not all fans wanted this) were at least in part responsible for the dismal atmosphere that pervades the wretched place and this blogger being surrounded by Liverpool supporters in the home end for the recent Hammers game against the Merseysiders.

The less said about Brady’s controversial and confrontational attempt at a supporters’ group the better. The Official Supporters Board aren’t transparent, democratic or independent and have no mandate. They serve nobody except the Vice Chair herself. Meanwhile, every Saturday she seeks to humiliate and bring reputational harm upon the club with a ludicrous column in The Sun newspaper. Despite being refused a prospective player from Leicester as a result of her witterings she point blank refuses to give it up even though Co-Chair Sullivan is known to be against the idea. As ever, fans have no access to free speech while Karren smashes us all about the head with hers.

Typical of Brady’s intransigence was her refusal to give up a business relationship (yet another outside job) with disgraced mogul Sir Philip Green even when the accusations of sexual and racial abuse by the latter grew. Upon resigning, the hypocrisy of her campaign for “strong female leadership” was laid bare as she refused to either condemn Green or even explain why she had left. Likewise her role on the BBC’s The Apprentice has, it is rumoured, come into direct conflict with her job at West Ham.

Brady (left) with disgraced business associate Sir Philip Green

Perhaps most pernicious is the atmosphere she engenders within the club which sees its ultimate expression in their treatment of the media. Not content with alienating her “customers” (we call ourselves fans Karren) journalists are routinely harassed by Media Head Ben Campbell. It is said one was recently “banned” for a month from covering the club for a minor transgression (not to mention KUMB Graeme Howlett having his press pass rescinded). What Brady and Campbell forget is West Ham are not one of the big six clubs, and have nowhere near enough political clout to seek to control the narrative in the manner they wish. It is no small measure a result of this high-handed attitude that journos are now sticking the boot into the club with some glee.

West Ham lack strategy, appearing to prefer picking fights instead, with Brady’s personality a direct driver. Although she may act as a lightning rod, deflecting attention away from Sullivan, he might do a lot worse than offer her up as a sacrificial lamb to angry fans and sack her. What have you got to lose David?

West Ham 3-3 Brighton

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together

George Eliot
Glenn Murray scored against West Ham. Again

WEST HAM absolutely West Hammed the fuck out of their must-win game against Brighton at the London Stadium on Saturday. Normal rules just don’t apply at the London Stadium – three-one up with a little over 20 minutes to play a substitution from manager David Moyes precipitated a horrible capitulation and turned three points into one.

Michail Antonio is a notoriously injury-prone player who had just returned from a hamstring tweak. All the evidence suggests 60 minutes or so is the maximum a player should stay on the pitch in those circumstances before fatigue massively increases the likelihood of further injury.

Likewise the decision to change the formation to a more defensive system and move debutée  Tomas Soucek to a more defensive role was textbook. Premier League clubs don’t give up two goal leads against sides as week in attack as Brighton.

Unless you are West Ham.

Antonio’s replacement Arthur Masuaku’s very first action was to put team-mate Aaron Cresswell under pressure with a stupid cushioned header when he would have done better just knocking the ball upfield. His second was to use all his £60,000 a week judgement to hit the ball not up the line to a waiting Declan Rice but straight at a Brighton’s Leandro Trossard lurking infield. The ball ricocheted over Angelo Ogbonna as Issa Diop inexplicably played “After You Claude”, dallied over a clearing header and allowed Pascal Gross to poke home.

Worse followed. Albion’s Glenn Murray is a 36-year old striker who only ever seems to score against the Hammers – and he was goalless this season coming into the game. Masuaku lost his man on the left wing, a cross came in, Ryan Fredericks hacked at fresh air and Murray slotted the ball home after having appeared to control the ball with his arm. Referee Michael Oliver certainly thought so and awarded a free-kick only for the decision to be overturned by VAR and a goal awarded.

There are very many things wrong with video replay as used at present and if you want the ultimate takedown there is no better than this Twitter post by Hammers supporter Daisy Christodoulou. This blog believes football should take a leaf from cricket when the evidence is dubious and stick with a referee’s decision – but that would be far too sensible.

At this point a story about a mate and a foreign experience. Please bear with, there is a point to all this: He and his wife landed in St Petersburg, Russia as part of a Baltic Sea cruise where they were ferried around the sights by minibus. Due to repeated warnings of pickpockets our protagonists had taken the very sensible precaution of placing all valuables in a zipped bag kept safe by the driver. A wise and cautious decision.

After nearly a day of seemingly interminable gold-leaf adorned corridors our man, tired of the bling and with permission from tour leader and missus, left a procession through yet another house to take some air in the park outside with a promise to meet up in half an hour. Only after appreciating the solitude did our guy realise he wasn’t wearing a watch and had no mobile to tell the time by. Not to worry. Until nobody turned up at the allotted meeting place and at first 45 minutes then, he guessed, an hour passed. Panicked, he retraced his steps to the car park to find the minibus gone. It was only then that without any means of communication, money, identification or passport it dawned on him that if he didn’t find the group, due to the local vagrancy laws, he as fresh meat would be spending at least one evening in a Russian prison*.

Just as a series of ostensibly good decisions led to calamity, so with Moyes. The lesson in both cases is to look at a wider picture – the traveller needed to be much more cautious in a foreign country – and West Ham are not anything like the competently-run football clubs Moyes has largely been associated with.

Critical non-essentials were the small things in the detail of everything the team did in its preparation and playing that could be improved to set the England team apart from its rivals, and create a winning mindset which would influence players’ behaviour.

England World Cup winning coach Sir Clive Woodward
Sir Clive Woodward

Elite sports coaches look to imbue in their charges an atmosphere where every slightest variable is controlled down to the minutest percentage. It is those tiny intangibles that make a difference between victory and defeat. In contrast the Hammers chuck away entire blocks of advantage without a thought.

Good clubs trade in the summer to build a balanced squad for the type of football they want to play. West Ham buy a player on the last hour of the January transfer window and get whoever they can meaning the manager didn’t have recent signing Jarrod Bowen available to replace Antonio.

Efficient sides build top quality training facilities to instill an atmosphere of professionalism in players and give them no excuse for failure. West Ham’s look more akin to the former traveller encampment that Basildon residents so enjoyed before it was ripped down with police assistance.

Innovative teams use an analytics and video teams to study opponents and instigate strategies at both ends of the pitch to better confront opponents. They have a big injury prevention team to minimise soft-tissue issues. West Ham allowed both to atrophy as former boss Slaven Bilic “didn’t rate” them.

Top squads have a Director of Football overseeing a network of scouts across Europe to identify and buy young talent. David Sullivan gets on the phone to his agent friend.

Sporting success breeds on a “can do” attitude. West Ham “make do” with an “it’ll do” mindset. The inevitable result is the on-field shambles we saw against Brighton.

*In case you were wondering, in time the minibus returned to pick my friend up. It remains to be seen if West Ham can blunder their way out of the current mess.