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.

West Ham 1-2 Leicester

Pellegrini cut a forlorn figure

We believe he’ll attract new talent to the London Stadium as well as improving the current squad. Above all he is a winner … and we believe his experience, quality and proven record of taking teams forward quickly will ensure that he is successful here.

David Sullivan on Manuel Pellegrini

FOR one glorious moment we were witness to the dream as the largely disappointing Felipe Anderson broke free of his shackles both mental and positional and surged forward, running at the Leicester defence before playing a neat one-two with Ryan Fredericks and crossing low for Pablo Fornals to sweep home. A marvellous goal in construction and execution to give us a glimpse of what Pelle-ball was supposed to be.

Pablo Fornals celebrates his excellent strike

Unfortunately, the allegory doesn’t finish there – for the rest of the game West Ham looked, as so often under coach Manuel Pellegrini, devoid of coherence, tactically naïve, lightweight in midfield and a shitshow in defence. Nothing exemplified the manager’s reign more starkly than the comedic defensive efforts of centre back Issa Diop in the build-up to the killer second goal – the Frenchman couldn’t even foul an opponent properly. On the odd occasion Pellegrini entered his technical area the Chilean cut a lonely figure as his oversized white trainers rather cruelly cast him as the head clown at the West Ham circus.

The boss’s much vaunted “big team mentality” presumably never included contingencies such as Arthur Masuaku whose defending is at best, “up and down” and whose wayward header led directly to Leicester’s first goal. Neither could it possibly involve the all-round play of Carlos Sanchez, surely one of the worst players to ever pull on the claret and blue (and yes, we’ve seen Bill Green in the flesh).

More generally, Pellegrini never appeared to work on set pieces at either end to make up for deficiencies and personnel and is reputed to have never studied opponents never mind watched them. He decried the contemporary need for analytics preferring instead his own eyes.  

Most of all, his attacking players never produced enough chances to compensate for their lack of contribution in defence. The team needed an energetic box-to-box player to play alongside the sitting Declan Rice but more often than not had the 32-year-old legs of Mark Noble instead. Up top the manager paid big money for the excellent Sebastien Haller but starved him of chances and expected him to peel off defenders and find space like Sergio Aguero – a player with a completely different style.

Misery for West Ham as Leicester celebrate

There were notable improvements in performance against Leicester – for the first home game in four the Hammers managed to concede fewer than three goals – but that statistic needs to be set against the nine changes the opponents made with manager Brendan Rodgers confident even his reserve side would win.

Not even the return of Lukasz Fabianski and a penalty save following an uncharacteristic blunder off his line could stop the opposition. The feeling was always the opposition had a bit in the tank. Nothing emphasises the difference in relative squad strength more than Foxes defensive midfielder Nampalys Mendy. In only his second appearance of the season he looked at least as good any midfielder West Ham have played since the arrival of the current owners. .

Thus it was no surprise to anybody, not least we suspect, the manager himself, when the club website announced Pellegrini had been sacked with Vice Chair Karren Brady (she seems to be employed solely for such occasions) applying the coup de grâce. Pelle-ball had collided with reality in much the same way Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s awful election campaign. Perhaps Pellegrini also thinks he “won the argument”? It doesn’t matter, he can retire to his home in Santiago, Chile, safe from any financial worry. Who knows, he may even have an allotment?

Just like my dreams Part I

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning”

Gloria Steinem
This is not what we were promised

AMID all the places in the contemporary West Ham cybersphere for polls, forums and opportunities to “have your say” there is a dearth of space for an encompassing vision of what fans really want our football club to look like. As good as polls are at determining on a day to day basis whether this or that player is a favourite, the answers are only ever going to be granular.

This, then, is a vision of the club we aspire to under the unlikely conceit Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos feels making all that money while also pissing off Donald Trump has left a hole in his life that can only be filled by ploughing millions into an underperforming Premier League football club.

As well as establishing a basis for argument over what a football club should be and do the hope is such an examination can build a better framework within which to answer, “Who would you like to sign for us, x or y player?”

The stadium:

THE current arena isn’t fit for purpose. It was not designed as a football ground and it shows. Seats are too far from the pitch. The shallow rake of the stands means there is little atmosphere, the gap between stands worsens the problem and the scaffolding is an embarrassment. Worse, the migration from Upton Park was handled with all the dexterity and wit of a Duke being interviewed by Emily Maitlis.

Realistically the choice is between rebuild, replace or build a new stadium. A rebuild seems unfeasible as there is so little of the ground worth its name as a football stadium. There is no opportunity to dig down – and going upwards would only exacerbate current problems. Replacement on the same site would be expensive, messy, and would possibly, as with Spurs, involve a period at another ground.

With all respect to those that would quite legitimately cry “Not again” the best choice would be to start afresh with the Amazon Stadium sited elsewhere on the Queen Elizabeth Park. The current owners would be more than happy to get out of the current lease which is costing them around £10million a year. A decent deal could also be made buying some adjacent land as without a football club in situ the park would atrophy.

Seating priority would not be given, as with the recent migration to those having the most money or a mate who wants a ticket but to length of service as a season ticket holder. Obvious to everybody you might think, except for Karren Brady, who if she performed as badly as a contestant on The Apprentice as she does in real life would be booted off on the second week.

The prime concern for the stadium alongside givens such as sightlines, comfort and safety would be atmosphere. To that end the arena would have a steep rake all around and upper tiers that sit above rather than behind the space below giving a theatre feel. Individuals would feel more as though they are part of the action rather than spectators.

Behind one goal would be a single stand “Kop” designated a singing section that would be the cheapest area of the ground. The aim would be something akin to “die Gelbe Wand” (the Yellow Wall) of Borussia Dortmund. (Compare with the current ludicrous idea that the Billy Bonds Stand – with some of the most expensive seats in the ground – would possess the atmosphere).

The Yellow Wall

Controversially perhaps, the ground would have a capacity of just 45-50 thousand. The estimates are we currently attract around 42 thousand – the increased capacity has a lot more to do with David Sullivan’s ego than any practical concern. Much above 50 thousand attendees and atmosphere dissipates, a full ground is always livelier than a sparse stadium whatever the size.

All lower tier seats would be convertible to safe standing and there would be a designated Family Enclosure as well as disabled seating, a sensory room and so on. Corporate areas would consist of lounges with access to seats outside. No boxes. Food available within would be of pub standard rather having pretensions to haute cuisine in order to prevent inflated charges. Food and drink would be available behind the stands as is usual and be comparable in cost to pub prices. Fixed seats and tables would be available. Hopefully, fans would be drawn in earlier, preventing last minute waits to be searched, and profits would raise given fewer supporters would be drinking away from the ground.

Fan representation:

INDEPENDENT supporter groups would be encouraged and have regular dialogue with the Supporter Liaison Officer. Meetings with Board members would be regular, as would input into policing and stewarding committees. The hated OSB would be immediately disbanded. As appealing as it sounds a supporter on the Board would be unnecessary so long as the former protocol was adhered to. The Davids, Gold and Sullivan, profess to be fans and both are useless. The concern would be a Board place up for grabs would lead to infighting and invite those more concerned with thoughts of grandeur than representing the club’s support.

Kit:

PLAYING and training wear would be designed by top brands, realistically that means Nike or adidas. Home kit would consist of claret shirts with sky sleeves, white socks and shorts. Away strips would rotate on a tri-yearly basis between sky, navy and white. There is a place for gold within these kits – but teal, ecru, violet and so forth have no place in a West Ham strip and are an abomination.

Part II to follow. On-pitch matters...

West Ham 2-3 Newcastle

ON the evidence of the home defeat to Newcastle, West Ham are less a side claiming to have top six pretensions than one staring at a relegation battle – and with a set up ill-equipped to face that challenge. There have long been whispers emanating from the club that in all areas the Hammers are arrogant and yesterday all those chickens came home to roost. Forget the late rally, this was a team humiliated by a club so poorly run they appointed the woeful Steve Bruce as manager to replace Rafa Benitez.

To be fair to the Magpies, at least they didn’t settle for Manuel Pellegrini in the hotseat, a man whose entire operation appears to be characterised by arrogance. In that respect, if no other, he is a perfect fit for the Hammers.

First the bare facts: West Ham have won just three games from 11 in what has been a relatively easy start to the campaign. Worse, they’ve picked up just two points from the last fifteen including just a single point from consecutive home matches against Crystal Palace, Sheffield United and Newcastle. The side are currently an alarming nine points down on comparative fixtures from last season.

Expected goals come in at a reasonable seventh place at 15.79. But it is at the other end of the pitch the worries lie. A defensive xG of 21.45 is worse than Southampton, who a week ago let in nine at home. The only side with a worse metric are Norwich. A combined xG of 11.27 puts the club in the bottom three along with the Canaries and, you guessed it, Newcastle. Statistics strongly suggest the Hammers are overperforming!

A measure of the manager’s arrogance is he describes his club’s current form as a “lapse” and claimed “It’s difficult to explain why we played the way we did in the first 45 minutes. I do not understand why we played so bad”. What a shame he eschews analytics? None of us are on Pellegrini’s reported wage of £10million per annum (quite likely a good proportion of which buys an acceptance to accede to the wishes of Chairman David Sullivan – more on that later) but might offer one or two suggestions:

Just a thought, but if you are playing a Bruce-managed Toon, who have by far the worst attacking xG in the division and hadn’t scored away from home in 400 minutes but do possess pace by the bucketload, it might not be the greatest idea in the world to match 85-year-old right back Pablo Zabaleta (who has all the pace of a sloth who wishes to give up the hurly burly of sloth life and kick back a little) against the lightning quick French winger Allan Saint-Maximin. Neither was it the pinnacle of tactical awareness to play a 4-1-4-1 system that allowed Newcastle to merely lump the ball down the field upon receiving possession safe in the knowledge they had the numbers and legs to chase it.

Two of the goals conceded came directly from dead balls. Yet for all our highly acclaimed “big team mentality” (what does that even mean?) there is nothing to suggest training involves set plays at either end of the pitch despite the clear benefits from so doing. For their crucial first goal 6ft 1in central defender Ciaran Clark was being marked by 5ft 7in left-back Aaron Cresswell. And while on goals conceded it’s impossible not to comment on Roberto Jimenez, a goalkeeper whose only claim to competence would appear to be his vague physical resemblance to Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon.

Would it be too much of a stretch to think that, should first choice stopper Lukasz Fabianski be injured, we might need a replacement a little more accomplished than somebody who managed just four appearances for Espanyol in three la Liga seasons? Yesterday he came and missed a cross by yards to present an easy headed goal for Federico Fernandez before a lack of footwork led to him getting both hands to a Jonjo Shelvey free kick but merely pushing it into the net. So rancid was his display the stench could even be smelt as far away as the distant upper tier of the London Stadium.

On pitch we have a captain who has bought into his manager’s hubris. Prior to the Palace game on the 5th October Mark Noble mused: “We never think we can lose”. Reader, we did. In fact, we haven’t won a game since. The skipper then went onto claim he is part of “The strongest Hammers squad” in his decade-and-a-half in claret and blue despite it containing no strength in depth at goalkeeper, full back, central midfield or up top. “Pranks” pre-recorded for sponsors should not be part of a Premier League captain’s repertoire; the optics are poor when the team is losing, they lack class and appear unprofessional.

Andriy Yarmolenko was weaved, it would appear, from the same cloth. He is nowhere near as good as he thinks he is and offers little off the ball. Just as a park footballer wearing Predator boots needs to be pretty nifty to avoid a good shoeing, so Yarmolenko is not of the class, or physique, required to cut holes in his socks – this year’s nasal strip. Felipe Anderson needs to start justifying his £34m price tag too. Yesterday he looked like Matt Jarvis as he didn’t beat anybody, didn’t provide killer passes and wandered around giving the ball away. Still, at least he does all this to a Samba beat, so that probably makes it ok. (Hint: It doesn’t).

An honourable exception was Robert Snodgrass. Chasing and harrying as though his life depended on it, the Scotsman scored with a quality finish and gave the impression he was playing for his place. The midfielder offered the post match view that: “We need to be solid and resolute”. Amen. The club surely need more players with his ability either side of the ball. Expect him to be dropped for an attacker next week against Burnley.

Among the backroom staff the arrogance not only continues but is encouraged. Vice Chair Karren Brady (does anybody know what her role involves?) refuses point blank to give up her vapid and often offensive Sun column despite it doing harm to the club’s reputation. She also ignores UEFA, Premier League and Government regulation that insists clubs speak meaningfully with independent supporters’ groups.

Brady’s hand-picked “supporters” group the OSB act as an arm of the commercial department and do nothing to help fans while their Chair’s main role appears to be antagonising fans via social media. Likewise, Ben Campbell nominally “Head of Media Relations” is known to be at once dim, confrontational and a constant hurdle to journalistic access.

To get to the root of the unwarranted pride that characterises the club it is necessary to go to the top. Owner David Sullivan likes to insist any responsibility he bears for results ended when he bought a club in financial distress nine years ago. Despite personally doing very well from the deal he will routinely answer any criticism with a flurry of nonsense about how much money he has “put in” to the club.

He believes he knows at least as much as the managers he employs, refuses to engage anybody who questions his desire to meddle in the transfer market and will brief against those who do via his favourite websites. We note a piece last week on one such site decrying a recent non-Sullivan signing. In the same place a poll on Pellegrini appeared less than an hour after the full-time whistle yesterday.

The result is a club where sycophancy and chutzpah flourish while intellect dies a lonely death. We are fully prepared to accept our observations on this subject may be considered arrogant in themselves. Just don’t coming running to us when Steve Bruce is appointed manager.

West Ham 1-1 Sheffield United

THE contrast could not have been greater.

Watching on TV as England humbled the almighty All Blacks with a brilliant display of precision and power and coming away from the game breathless and exhilarated. Then later in the day trudging through the Stratford drizzle to see West Ham bumble and fumble their way to a lame draw against recently promoted Sheffield United.

Yes, they are different sports being played at quite different levels but if you aspire to be the best it must be worth adopting the processes that lead to being the best in all codes. There are parallels to be drawn, particularly as West Ham’s financial turnover is roughly equivalent to that of the RFU.

Ignore those telling you the boys with the red rose on their chest won because they showed “passion” (possibly one of the most overused and meaningless words in sport) and bellowed the National Anthem with gusto. England beat New Zealand because they analysed the opposition and sought weaknesses before putting in place a blueprint to exploit the flaws they found.

Coach Eddie Jones picked a team of individuals best suited to maintain discipline and carry out the game plan as the implemented individual skills to for the greater good. Most of all trusted they their defence, brilliantly organised by John Mitchell to hold out safe in the knowledge they had the players to hurt the Kiwis in attack.

It isn’t clear if Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini uses statistical analysis to prepare his sides. Frankly, it’s doubtful; certainly, he never mentions it at pre or post-match pressers preferring to keep his comments as anodyne as possible and repeatedly speaking only of “big-team mentality” (heaven only knows what that means).

Team selection and formation against the Blades seemed capricious. Having struggled with a lack of midfield presence the Chilean decided to remedy the situation by playing Declan Rice on his own in a 4-1-4-1 formation(!) Andriy Yarmolenko and Felipe Anderson wide with Robert Snodgrass and Mark Noble given the job of supporting striker Sebastien Haller.

A not uncommon sight; West Ham six against six in defence

Arthur Masuaku, Ryan Fredericks, Angelo Ogbonna, Manuel Lanzini and Pablo Fornals were dropped from last week with Aaron Cresswell, Fabian Balbuena, Pablo Zabaleta, Robert Snodgrass and Yarmolenko coming in. Changing three-quarters of a back four seems odd, especially when the problems at Everton last week were further forward. Rather than a set of changes to improve the whole it appeared as though a frustrated and confused manager was punishing various players for heaven knows what. As a friend commented: “This is a team picked by Twitter”.

The system failed. The game plan had not been thought through. Without a tackler alongside him to break up play Rice was repeatedly outnumbered. Worse, the attack was a mess. Nobody was able to get alongside Haller, never mind advance in front of him leaving the Frenchman isolated and frustrated as he attempted to hold the ball up and play in … nobody. Meanwhile the wide men and fullbacks hit crosses in to … nobody.

Haller is an incredible striker with so many skills in his repertoire but the team are not playing to him. Pellegrini’s pre-match criticisms seemed both out of character and inappropriate. Without a second striker (given our lack of central midfield options we wouldn’t advocate 4-4-2) or better still a goalscoring midfielder coming from deep the former Eintracht Frankfurt player is wasted. Essentially Pellegrini is attempting to recreate the style he used at Manchester City without the individual skillsets.

The home side scored, as Pellegrini sides seem to, not through overwhelming the opposition but by a piece of brilliance – in this case a lovely cushioned volley from Yarmolenko that set Snodgrass away to finish calmly just before half-time. The Northerners equalised mid-way through the second half after two failed headed clearances by Issa Diop allowed an unmarked Lys Mousset to mishit his shot under a collapsing Roberto Jimenez in the West Ham goal. The rest of the game degenerated into sloppy pub football.

Once again we faced the drizzle.

There May Be Trouble Ahead

MANUEL PELLEGRINI’S preference for playing three attacking midfielders behind a lone striker is a real problem. The gains made from such a line-up are more than outweighed by losses in defensive solidity given the personnel available.

Don’t believe us? Perhaps you should read today’s report from football analytics experts Statsbomb that confirmed all our worst fears.

Essentially, our defensive expected goals or xG (the odds on us conceding) are the worst in the league. Our attacking xG is a bang average tenth. Not only do these statistics make expectations of a top six finish appear fanciful in the extreme, they point, once things settle down, to a possible relegation scrap with only Newcastle possessing a worse combined xG.

At this point it is worth saying that if Sebastien Haller stays fit there is little chance of the club going down – but that is pretty cold comfort given the money spent over the past two seasons.

On a sliding scale of manager Manuel Pellegrini’s attitude to team selection you might term it idealism, stubbornness or arrogance. Whichever you prefer, the fact is he has boxed himself into a corner.

For various reasons (return from injury and unfamiliarity with the Premier League prime among them) our attacking trio are just not firing. They have scored just three times between them in nine games; all from the left foot of Andriy Yarmolenko. Individually none have created more chances than Watford’s much maligned Tom Cleverley.

Given the alacrity with which we give up chances the obvious answer would appear to be replacing one of the attackers and reverting to a 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 with strength added in the middle of the park.

Unfortunately, the three players in our squad capable of playing the role are Jack Wilshere, Carlos Sanchez and Robert Snodgrass. The first has neither the defensive capability nor fitness to fulfil the role with Colombian Sanchez one of the worst ever players I’ve seen in the claret and blue. That leaves us with the 32-year-old former winger Snodgrass as the man to shore up the team alongside fellow 32-year old and skipper Mark Noble in the position that traditionally requires the greatest miles run per game.

As much as we might recommend the club buy one or preferably two fit central midfielders who are mobile and can defend as well as pass, we have to ask why Pellegrini and his Director of Football Mario Husillos preferred buying attacker Pablo Fornals (who is yet to realise his potential) over the summer to replacing the wantaway Pedro Obiang with a player that gives the team better value.

If either Noble or fellow deep midfielder Declan Rice cop a bad injury things could get even nastier than one of David Sullivan’s straight-to-DVD films.

Nap Hand For Masuaku and Cresswell

THE decision to award both Arthur Masuaku and Aaron Cresswell five-year contracts seems on the surface to be an odd one.

Follow that up with the explanation given on one of the clubs favoured websites; that the board were worried about other clubs picking the two players up on the cheap and we are rapidly descending into farce.

The only way this decision makes any sense is as a tacit admission our club don’t trust themselves in the transfer market and cannot be relied upon to either find or purchase superior replacements.

Given Cresswell’s 30th birthday arrives in a few weeks’ time and Masuaku has proved time and again he can’t defend, the immediate question to ask would be who would want them? We haven’t exactly noticed suitors queueing up for either left-back.

As with stocks and shares player values can fluctuate wildly; all it takes is a sudden loss of form and/or a serious injury. Having given Andy Carroll a six-year contract and Winston Reid a five-year deal only for them to experience a series of injuries you might expect the club to have learned from past experience.

Apparently not.

In the words of David Bowie: “Five years, my brain hurts a lot”.

You Don’t Know What You’re Doing

WEST HAM are currently applying short bans to supporters who advertise tickets for sale on social media in an effort to rectify the lack of available tickets to away games.

As you might expect of this club, the process that led to this more than regrettable conclusion lacked transparency, involved the Official Supporters Board and resulted in good honest fans being punished while far graver offenders carried on their business.

Here is how we arrived here:

The club commissioned a fans website who do pretty well publishing confidential chit chat received from senior club officials to produce a survey on tickets. Just coincidentally, one of the club’s OSB “representatives” happens to co-run the site chosen.

A sub-committee of the OSB were formed to look into away games ticket distribution. Three or more of the members of this committee were anonymous. Of the two members who outed themselves one was given suggestions on yet another website that included removing away season tickets, ending priority points and entering everyone into a ballot for high demand games.

Accusations abounded of bondholder and away season ticket holder abuse and the selling on of tickets. Throughout this process the Chairman of the OSB in typical fashion made it his business to run around social media blaming Independent Supporters’ Associations for “scaremongering” when in they were in truth presenting facts.

The meeting was held and little of substance resulted until letters were sent to fans banning them from home and away games for selling tickets.

Questions remain.

If it were that easy to contact supporters to ban them, why weren’t those very same supporters directly contacted to give their views in the first place?
So far there has been no announcement from the club as to any further measures. Are they looking at their own employees who bang tickets on (we know of one particularly egregious practitioner)?

Are the club taking a more confrontational stance on ticket touts – they appear far nastier transgressors than somebody selling a seat at face value because they cannot manage one particular game?

Summary:

If the club had provided a more transparent approach to the whole affair, including how many tickets are allocated to whom, they could have brought fans onside, got hold of the real culprits and engendered much goodwill.

Instead of which, they acted in poor faith and with shadowy intent as they stoked up bad feeling, increased suspicions of opacity and furthered mistrust.

We have no idea whether their behaviour is naked incompetence or an inherent loathing of the fans that provide their living.

Either way this is not how a successful club should behave. From our perspective the “West Ham family” seems pretty dysfunctional. Sadly, so long as the club continue their refusal to speak with ISAs we cannot metaphorically call Social Services in.

Who we, who we are

Oh West Ham We Love You is a loose collective of West Ham supporters who have been sharing thoughts about the club with each other via WhatsApp for some while.

We now believe there is room for our views to become more public.

We claim no constituency or mandate beyond our own.

Included in our group are season ticket holders, away season ticket holders, corporate users and “once in a while” supporters. We are men and women and have a wide age range.

What most defines us however, is our desire for a better West Ham. We believe with more thoughtful management across all areas the club have the potential to regularly improve their league position and consistently pick up silverware.

Let’s build something together.