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

An admission of failure

The prodigal son returns

WHEN the West Ham Board let David Moyes go at the end of his short contract 18 months ago it was with the promise of a bright new future with superstar manager and serial winner Manuel Pellegrini. The Scot was considered surplus to demands with his “dour” football (in reality nothing of the sort) and dispensed with in order to move forward with an attractive and winning style.

What a climbdown by the board to now return to the tried and tested after the Chilean, despite spending funds Moyes was never given, flopped badly. Buys such as £36million on Sebastien Haller, £28m on Felipe Anderson and £25m on Pablo Fornals among others left the club fighting a relegation battle they are barely equipped to survive. As legendary grifters themselves the Board were suckers for spiv Pellegrini, his Director of Football mate Mario Husillos (in reality a glorified agent) and even Husillos’s son.

Whether you consider Chair David Sullivan’s recognition of how badly he was mugged off to be a long-awaited flash of self-awareness or a monumental climb-down and recognition of failure is moot. The fact is, when it came to replacing Pellegrini the club had nowhere to go. Restricted by a long-term cashflow crisis the club didn’t have the money to pay compensation for a manager already at a club, nor the imagination to scout for a talented youngster.

The reality is, the West Ham Board had no contingency for Pellegrini to fail.

Let that sink in for a minute, Sullivan is so inept, so criminally incapable of running a football club to succeed and has so toxified the brand, his only recourse was to get on the phone to the bloke he himself had briefed against in order to keep the fans onside. Unsurprisingly those same fans are now incandescent even if there was nobody better qualified to take the job who wouldn’t require a fee.

That the Board know they have failed can be recognised in the lack of fanfare that has greeted Moyes’ appointment. A social media video with no words or promise. Near silence from the Board themselves. Essentially their message to fans is ‘Get used to the new reality’.

Pellegrini and Husillos

We can be in little doubt now what the club ambitions are. All talk of “top six” and “next level” was about as reliable as Boris Johnson’s desire to build a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland. In neither case is there any overlap between desire and reality. Expectations well and truly managed, success can now be measured by not getting relegated. Welcome to the brave new world of the Dildodome.

The problem with promises is we the fans lap them up. We are searching for a dream, we want to believe. More even than a soccer mom at a Billy Graham gig we need that belief. Now the reality has been exposed the club must be better judged on their record. Relatively poor investment in players, bare minimum investment in the training ground and Academy plus a lack of structure at both youth level and scouting.

In that respect an article in The Athletic today is well worth a read. For those that don’t want/can’t afford to subscribe here is the key extract.

It would appear a good part of the reason for Moyes’ return is so, with his wealth of experience in football and great scouting knowledge he can attempt to teach those dolts Sullivan, Brady and Gold how to run a football club.

Finally a plea: Moyes is one of only two West Ham managers in the Sullivan era to have improved the club’s standing in the table over the course of his tenure (Sam Allardyce the other). For all you may want a brilliant manager playing scintillating football, the reality is, given the lamentable set up at West Ham only the old guard pragmatic managers succeed.

If nothing else Moyes can be expected to provide a tactical framework absent from Pelle-ball. Sebastien Haller should thrive. We might even defend the ball. So when the boys in claret and blue run out against Bournemouth on Wednesday give them what support you can muster. It is no fault of either players or manager we are a failing club.

This is all on David Sullivan, David Gold and Karren Brady.