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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.

RIP the OSB

Karren Brady – the brains behind the OSB

FANS group Hammers United’s decision to reject a club offer to talk with the Official Supporters’ Board but instead insist on communicating with the Chairmen and Vice Chair has neatly highlighted how ineffectual the OSB are and marks the beginning of the end for the unasked-for and unwelcome group. Cut out of negotiation, the group can now be considered otiose. A piece on the official West Ham website highlighting their “achievements” served only to emphasise how rattled the club are.

Formed in the wake of the protests during the Burnley game nearly two years ago, the stated OSB remit was to improve “matchday experience”, a brief they have spectacularly failed to deliver. Instead they were formed in typically insular fashion as a Karren Brady brainchild to provide a nod towards fan engagement while creating a barrier between supporters and board. On this point it’s interesting to observe how desperate members of the West Ham hierarchy are to resist challenge. Brady’s function is as a buffer to protect Chair David Sullivan, while Tara Warren and the OSB shield Brady. Halfwit head of media relations Ben Campbell protects all of them. Everybody “on-message”, no free-thinking allowed.

As members are appointed not elected, the OSB cannot claim to be independent and don’t serve as such. Minutes of meetings are not made by officers but the club and are seldom released in timely fashion. On surface viewing they appear sketchy accounts of what we assume are lengthy events. Sub-committee minutes are rarely released at all. I have had no contact from my OSB rep and beyond an email address on the club website they make little attempt to reach out to fans. Their Twitter feed does little beyond promoting club initiatives and competitions and hasn’t posted in over three months.

As a measure of their transparency, this is the only picture of the OSB we could find

Their concerns don’t extend beyond the minutiae of sales inside the stadium, are all commercially based and take no account of “cultural” issues regarding fan experience. In common with the club they exclusively treat supporters as customers. They are happy to take credit for other people’s achievements, claiming to be responsible for free sanitary products when everybody knows it was down to a long campaign by Esther Jones Russell a particularly egregious example.

Having so far been highly critical of the OSB it is only fair to herald their achievements. The propensity with which high profile members get away tickets for games within the M25 and south-east region is quite remarkable.

OSB Chair David Baker has long claimed the club want a “strong” Independent Supporters Association and has frequently expressed a desire for a group similar to Liverpool’s Spirit of Shankly to represent fans. Few of Baker’s pronouncements merit serious consideration and such is the case in this instance – if his words meant anything the OSB would resign en masse to enable Hammers United to step into the breach. It is very clear the group are an obstacle to, not a conduit for, supporter recognition.

As they slide towards insignificance the club and Brady have a choice between a coup de grace or lingering death. Either way the loss of the OSB will not be mourned.

West Ham 0-1 West Brom

Fuck off Gold and Sully
Where’s the fucking money?
It’s all lies, lies, lies

West Ham fans to the tune of Slade’s Cum on Feel the Noize
Baggies celebrate

Where we are:

The chickens are coming home to roost for West Ham owners. And how. The deadly duo of David Sullivan and David Gold, plus henchman Karren Brady, have spent 10 years telling us how they “saved the club” and “all” the money they’ve pumped in despite neither claim having any basis in fact. They now have just a few days to finally make good on their promises as all their poor decision making has led to the very real threat of not “A world class stadium for a world class team” but relegation to the Championship.

Poor decision-making, a lack of a coherence in scouting and buying players and a dearth of team identity mean the side need Premier League quality buys at right-back, centre midfield and striker just to stay afloat. Worse, the signs are not encouraging anybody wants to come and the club’s single scout might feel themself a little overwhelmed.

A spidergram of West Ham’s scouting “network”

Sullivan’s populist insistence the club aim for a cup run, has proved to be the folly some predicted. For a team with such a small and lopsided squad to put out a near first team at the busiest time of the season is all but suicidal. Ryan Fredericks and Lukasz Fabianski have already succumbed to injury as a result – and judging by the way he kept feeling his hamstring against West Brom, Michail Antonio might not be far behind. Five players started the game playing their fourth game in 15 days. As it was the side couldn’t even make it past the Championship’ West Brom reserves, never mind the better sides.

The counter argument that “winning breeds confidence” carries little weight. One of the prime drivers of our 2011 relegation, apart from the ineptitude of Sullivan appointed manager Avram Grant, were cup runs to the semi-final of the League Cup and sixth round of the FA Cup. Those extra 10 games left the squad completely drained physically and mentally and they managed just two draws and no wins from their final nine league games.

The game:

Perhaps the best comment came as the result of a father noisily remonstrating with a steward about the language his six-year-old son was having to endure. A more grizzled head quietly and laconically observed: “It was your choice to bring him to an X-rated show”.

Chief among the obscenities was midfielder Carlos “Dirty” Sanchez. Picked only to allow Mark Noble to rest his weary 32-year-old legs the Colombian put in surely one of the worst individual performances ever seen in claret and blue. The first goal in a game is crucial – and especially for away sides at the London Stadium who know how brittle the Hammers confidence is. Predictably Sanchez took centre stage.

Carlos Sanchez attempts survival of the fattest with his moobs like Jagger

Issa Diop contrived to loop a routine clearing header sidewise to Albion midfielder Filip Krovinovic, who set off with the ball more in hope than expectation. Pitifully overweight Sanchez, who would be nicking a living at 70 grand a year never mind a week, bore down on him with all the malicious intent of an extra from The Day of the Dead. Just not the pace.

The ball broke from Charlie Austin and the Colombian (it would be crass to suggest he may have been imbibing his country’s most famous export. especially as he appeared off his not inconsiderable tits on some super cray cray bud) contrived to take a shot. At his own goal. Fortunately his initial effort rebounded once again off Diop for Conor Townsend to complete the job.

Thereafter, the first half was a tale of Fabian Balbuena attempting lose possession each occasion he was rashly presented with the ball by team-mates. At half-time manager David Moyes gave a pretty strong message to his Chairman and took off three players. Most notably, despite being largely anonymous Manuel Lanzini was quite accurately perceived at least the fourth worst performer on the pitch. The woeful Sanchez and Balbuena were hooked along with an ineffective Pablo Fornals.

Oops, Nobes has passioned one again

On came Michael Antonio, Mark Noble and Angelo Ogbonna as the game turned on its head with an attacking 4-3-1-2 formation. Instead of giving the ball away, the home side concentrated on blazing wide of goal from advanced positions and not putting the ball behind the Baggies defence for Antonio to run in on.

It is said patience is its own reward and so it proved with Sebastien Haller finally managing a first effort on target for the home side in the 84th minute. Off his shoulder. Noble managed to absolutely passion a sitter over the bar as Albian Ajeti stood watching – same as he had all game as West Ham’s “best squad ever” slumped to defeat.

Had it not been for the massive “once a season” presence in the crowd – the day was surely every half-and-half scarf seller’s Christmas – things could easily have become as nasty as the infamous Burnley game a couple of seasons ago. As it is there may be a substantial proportion of parents not bringing their children again.

The manager:

Moyes has taken a lot of stick on social media over the past two games, all of it pointless and much unfair. Yes he’s the man in the hotseat and of course he’s earning decent money – although nowhere near the scale of his useless predecessor – so he cannot be completely immune to criticism. The first thing to say is to those who didn’t want him “Fair enough”. Followed rapidly by “tough shit” – as he was essentially the only person to put himself up for the job.

Furthermore, there is plenty of mitigation. He has picked up a terrible squad, been ordered to play strong teams in cup games and suffered injuries as a result. He has no back-room team, nor likelihood of signings as only he and Alan Irvine are brave/stupid enough to want to come to Sullivan and Gold’s “Shit show at the fuck factory” (Many thanks @dirtyepic7).

Moyes is the subject of criticism

Having spent a season and a half criticising previous incumbent Manuel Pellegrini for lacking a Plan B it seems a little rich to then slate “Dithering Dave” when he takes the bull by the horns and changes things up – as he did at Leicester and again versus West Brom. Moyes has been mugged off by Sullivan’s promises in exactly the same manner as you and I. Empathy, not scorn should be the order of the day, we all know how he feels, yeah?

Another target is Moyes’s treatment of Pablo Fornals put against that of Lanzini. Frankly, we are half a season on and still yet to see anything beyond “promise” from the £24million Spaniard as he continues to underwhelm. In contrast Moyes has seen strong evidence of how well Lanzini can play. What we and he really require is a talisman to replace the efforts of Marko Arnautovic during the Scotsman’s last stint. Haller has shown little sign of being that man and Ajeti none. The irony would be if turns out Antonio can inspire the side – he and as manager didn’t get on particularly well last time out.

Plus, each and every time you get onto Moyes there is an exhalation of gratitude from the board as he is taking their heat. This blog feels there is a limit to how much he can continue to parrot the party line and it is testament to his professionalism he has yet to offer criticism of his employers. That may come from other quarters – as fan protests grow, unhappy former employees of the club may feel less pressure to remain schtum. Certainly the narrative is changing in the mainstream press. Let’s forget About Talk Sport for a minute even if Ian Abrahams certainly knows which side his bread is buttered… As well as the double sausage, three rashers, two eggs, beans, tomatoes, hash browns and double chips.

Ian “Moose” Abrahams

Up next:

On Wednesday Hammers will peep through collective fingers as we take on the steaming juggernaut of champions-elect Liverpool at Stratford. Only the criminally insane expect us to get anything from the game. Of much more concern is Saturday’s must-win tie against Brighton – the side we never beat. If it means making sure players are fit for that one then surely Moyes should do it?

Of course, by then we will know if Sullivan and Co managed to get those three players. If not, they deserve everything they get.

A day in the life

I read the news today, oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade

Lennon/McCartney
A message to you Sully

EVENTS off the pitch took at least as much precedence as the game against Everton. Instead of a match report I’ll present a diary of West Ham-related events throughout the day.

Foodbank collection:

After the short ride in on the Central Line and a stroll through Westfield watching happy dads and sons playing table tennis, I headed for the food banks collection point to say hello. Possibly the only thing our monarch and myself have in common is these days I don’t carry cash (the only time I ever need it is when I get the car washed) and was unable to contribute.

Between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019, the Trussell Trust’s foodbank network distributed 1.6 million three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis, a 19 per cent increase on the previous year. More than half a million of these went to children. This is a disgraceful statistic. In the fifth largest economy in the world that figure should surely be zero – and I loathe the idea of foodbanks. However, my moral objection doesn’t mean I won’t contribute and every Christmas the missus and I do a shop for our local centre. Yes, I know it’s a paltry effort – but it’s something.

The protest:

Following a short walk along the river with a mate we arrived at the site for the Hammers United protest around half an hour before events were due to commence. As with many others, I suspect, we were less about protesting ourselves and more about seeing what the fuss was about. Hellos were said, introductions made, and we spent an enjoyable few minutes reminiscing, joking and taking the piss with friends old and new. My favourite line came from a girl replying to my observation about a nameless person associated with the club whom I described as “incredibly fucking thick”. “Yes”, she said, “It’s the only part of his personality that’s authentic”. Boom!

Take it to the bridge

Estimates vary between one and two thousand as to how many people turned up – but either way it was a good turnout. As well as many familiar faces, there were also a good proportion of familiar “faces”. Disappointingly, I didn’t hear a word of any of the speeches due to a poor PA system, even if I am told all contributors spoke well. In all honesty I’ve been dubious about the aims of any protest and have expressed that opinion on social media. But it seems to me Sullivan, Gold and Brady’s PR output over the previous week – it’s always offensive – was enough of a goal in itself – even if it was of the “own” variety.

In her emetic Sun column Vice Chair Karren Brady described her highlights of a decade at the club as “naming the Billy Bonds Stand” and “the first game at the London Stadium”. Highlights indeed. Following her promise of a “World class stadium for a world class team” she has rowed some way back to “First and foremost West Ham are now financially stable” and compared us against failing Bury FC. The only “world class” aspect of her tenure is the phenomenal effort at managing her own expectations.

The takeout from all this is that under the pressure of the forthcoming protest the club press “machine” revved up with all the efficiency of departing Hammers keeper Roberto defending a corner. For as long as the board are embarrassed in this fashion they will continue to blunder.

West Ham bring a new meaning to Public Relations

Stewarding:

Off we tootled to the search areas prior to going into the ground and it became apparent my mate was not well. Almost doubled up with pain, he was struggling to even walk and sweating like Harold Shipman on a Saga holiday. By the time we moved through the gates it was clear he needed more assistance than even I, as a trained first aider, could offer. Left curled up against a pillar I went in search of help.

The first steward I spoke to had clearly never been trained for such emergencies and didn’t know what to do. As did the second. Controlling my anger and pointing out my mate could well be having a heart attack I asked to speak to their supervisor. He just shook his head.

Eventually, I managed to get hold of somebody who knew what he was doing. Steward Henry was brilliant and took charge of the situation as we got the patient sorted, seated and on the way to recovery. For all the claims of how our stewards are trained, they clearly are not. Although a bad situation could have been a lot worse it is nonetheless hugely concerning three separate stewards didn’t know what to do. For all the good it will do I shall be writing an appropriate letter.

The game:

By this point the Hammers side to face Everton had been released. Five starters over 30-years-old. A bench comprising of a keeper, a striker, four centre-backs including two with no first-team experience and a wide player. This is not as has been claimed “our best ever squad”. Part of my friend’s brief rehab included a rest in the club café – a place I’ve never before entered. On the wall were paraded the shirts of the 1980 FA Cup winning team to provide a useful and stark contrast with our current side.

Those were the days

The match itself was of Shakespearean drama – unfortunately the play was Much Ado About Nothing. A game of low quality, both goals came from first half set pieces. The home side had the better of that initial period but faded following the equaliser. Those around me agreed former manager Manuel Pellegrini would have most likely lost. Also clear was current boss David Moyes desperately needs quality reinforcements. I don’t imagine anybody thinks he will get them.

Let the protests continue.

Eight reasons you might wish to protest

Three and sleazy – Sullivan, Gold and Brady

ON Saturday West Ham supporters will be gathering outside the London Stadium before the game against Everton to protest against the board. (For more details go to KUMB). Here are our top eight reasons why we feel the trio of David Sullivan, David Gold and Karren Brady have failed the club.

Without supporters a club is nothing
The unholy trinity don’t appear to understand their money doesn’t buy ownership of West Ham United FC. They merely rent it for future generations. The owners of any football club are always the fans – memories, friendship, community, hopes, fears and dreams are not to be sold to the nearest bidder. The club tone is relentlessly hostile and the only people with whom they have anything like dialogue are the hated OSB – who are best seen as a focus group of unpleasantry and of use only for Brady to extort more money from fans.

Sullivan and Gold did not “save“ the club
For all the narrative about the money “put in” to the club, the reality is they have not spent a penny of their own cash. All finance wrongly attributed to them has been high-interest bearing loans. Sullivan and Gold have earned £16.8million over the last two years alone in above-industry standard interest from the club. Even if the club was in a rocky situation 10 years ago, that free pass they award themselves is not indefinite. Promises are seldom realistic, never mind kept – Brady’s “A world class stadium for a word class team” a classic of the genre.

The reputation of the club has been dismembered
Whether it is Sullivan’s behaviour towards other clubs in the transfer market, Brady’s loathed column in The Sun newspaper or the leaking of news via favoured websites the club are seen in the industry as a bad joke. Many other sides have a policy of refusing to deal with us. The tone in communication with supporters is most often condescending and lacking empathy.

The sale of Upton Park was for the benefit of David Sullivan’s bank balance, not the fans or club
Quite apart from the mystery of why the ground was sold to a holding company only to be immediately sold on again at nearly 100 per cent profit, the London Stadium is not fit for purpose as a football ground. There is no Family Enclosure, no singing area and little character – all thrown away because of the desire to sell tickets during a badly botched migration. The gaps between stands remain as a metaphor for the gulf between promise and delivery. The blowing up of a stand in a scene from a Sullivan-produced straight-to-DVD film could not be more symbolic.

The club infrastructure is a mess
As well as a dysfunctional stadium the training ground and Academy are a disgrace to a so-called Premier League club. Most Championship clubs would be embarrassed by the facilities at Rush Green – yet the two Daves barely let up telling us how much “they” spent. Far from the force it once was, the Academy is little more than a retirement home for former players short of a bob or two. Most of the good coaches have left and there is little in the way of basic communication never mind auditing and assessing the progress of individuals.

The appointment of staff is haphazard and without focus
There has never been a bona fide Director of Football nor recruitment manager with Sullivan jumping in and out of those roles according to who is asking the question. There is virtually no scouting system, with agents being employed at great expense instead. Of the five managers appointed during their tenure, only two (Sam Allardyce and David Moyes) have left the club in a better league position than when they started.

Transfer policy is unco-ordinated
Old and injury-prone players are routinely bought and over the top players given unwarranted contract extensions. Certain positions are all but neglected while there is a ridiculous obsession with strikers and attacking midfielders. There is little due diligence on background and no effort to incorporate players into any recognisable playing style or line-up. Players are seldom sold for full value and often as a means to mitigate a long-running cashflow crisis.

Most of all, on-pitch the club have failed
The three amigos have been at the club for almost exactly a decade. The money flooding into the club means they are currently the 18th richest in the world. On arrival the club was languishing near the bottom of the Premier League with a squad full of dead wood. Yet here we are 10 years later in exactly the same position.

Is it any wonder fans have had enough?