Jaws and the Piranha: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat!”

Alf's Rhubarb Grumble

“Piranha hunt in packs – not for protection, but for overwhelming force. They’re organised, methodical. The first bite draws blood. The blood draws the pack” – Mr Goodman – Piranha

Our enforced ‘vaycay’ was supposed to give us the opportunity to get all of our ducks in a row, regroup after a good win and make a charge to flatten the spirits of any red barons. It has been another tumultuous period in our West Ham lives; FA charges, club and fans meeting to chew over the fat that was less than being preened…and rumours abound over players future comings and goings, then finally the news that Fonte was off to the far east for adventures new

The road upon which the West Ham fan travels is littered with potholes, ice and debris. Never smooth, never ordinary and mostly infuriating…but at least there is the football to calm our nerves, listen to our prayers and hush our wailing cries…if only such counsel would remedy that which ails us.

We have been a team that has struggled with overall consistency this season, not to mention last year’s fiasco which failed to lift our spirits and give us any sense of purpose. Our players, when fit, have also shown little in the way of cohesive play…however since Moyes started to gain traction he has got a tune out of the fiddly cluster of atolls and has delivered a string of results that has dropped us into a mid table whirlwind, where up or down motion is just as likely.

Sharks are perpetually moving forward, seeking out prey to feast upon, to thrash and digest and the piranha are the gang of troubled ‘oiks’ who attack in numbers, whittling away until the bare bones are revealed as inadequate defences cave under the loom and gloom. Some fans felt somewhat optimistic, as I did, before the game on Saturday but also knew that any hopes could and would be dashed with any errors…whether forced or not.

Political intrigue aside and whether or not the Amity mayor would fail to act with danger lurking…our deficiencies are clear and our reinforcements need calling. We have a first team now, barring a couple more players to return from injury, that should be competitive with the Liverpools of this world but would as easily struggle against lesser teams such as Swansea or Burnley whom we play next.

“I don’t think you appreciate the gut reaction people have to these things…Martin, It’s all psychological. You yell ‘Barracuda,’ everybody says ‘Huh? What?’ You yell ‘Shark,’ we’ve got a panic on our hands…” – Mayor Larry Vaughn – Jaws

Any team would be foolish to take any fixture lightly, negligent on any time off to rest on their laurels but it would be criminal to underestimate any opponents regardless of their currently held league position. We had raised our game against mightier foes but have struggled with those apparently lacking potency. So impotent they have been, that we have succumbed both home and away to the same team…thrice…and have drawn when really we lacked that killer instinct and polished instance to see teams off.

Regardless of any week to week victories, triumphs or disasters…come the summer there will need to be a major investment in new players to not only create a consistent and well performing first team, but also a back up of perfectly able understudies to take over the key positions when required to do so.

Of course, much of this is pure conjecture and it really depends which players will leave between now and the end of the summer transfer window and how this will affect the overall balance of the side. Do we need another striker? What about a holding midfielder? Right back, left back, defender? The apparent list is endless.

Upon reading this you might think me bereft of wisdom and lacking the propensity for optimism…especially after such a ‘notable’ display this last weekend, however I would urge anyone to look beyond our current situation, time travel six months forward and analyse what our position and plight might be then.

We have an ageing first team squad, but mostly we have older players in key areas in which the younger replacements are not as accomplished. However the glaring issues are that many of our best players are late twenties or well into their thirties too. Our defence is of pensionable age and our mighty & Noble leader may not be able to continue with weekly and passionate displays that save our bacon, make us more competitive and even get us in the winning ways.

In an ideal scenario, West Ham would have had a plan in motion…a constant trimming of fat, tweaking and nurturing of talent that would see the first team ably supported and never overly reliant on players that ultimately will have a bad game from time to time.

Whilst our maestro at the helm has been able to compensate with his largely defensive tactics, he too has acknowledged our attacking strengths were over inflated by hype and players doped up on the attention, money and admiration of a loyal support. We are assuming now that Moyes will continue in the manager’s role but he may indeed decide to walk, especially if he and his coaching staff aren’t given favourable contracts to proceed with and if there isn’t a clear and present ambition in the transfer market.

Owners will blame managers for poor signings…and we have had more than our fair share, however West Ham have also lacked a quality and professional player recruitment system in place that was able to stand tall and independent to make their own decisions. Moyes, it is assumed, has identified huge errors in the transfer policy and Sullivan has supposedly stepped back from such dealings which will bring some order to the chaos from behind the scenes.

If Moyes does stay on, If we manage to stay in the Premier League and benefit from the television money worth hundreds of millions of pounds…then we may see wholesale changes in the summer that may shock yet leave us in awe.

We know the club is making profits and the fans have vented their frustrations for repeated poor transfer windows, but in the summer, there is an opportunity to have the right system in place, the right manager and best options for players…for the club to at last show some absolute ambition and to push on from a couple of stormy seasons.

Our ageing men will no doubt in my mind do a great job until the end of the season but I do not believe we can put all of our faith and expectations upon their narrow shoulders for the seasons to come. the club may be subject to numerous approaches for existing players, but if done correctly, the club should also have identified their targets early and will have signed them at the season end…ready to go for the whole pre season.

We have had Jaws and the Piranha at our backs and we have faced them with honour and pride but the future does not look bright, we cannot continue into next season with similar strife and nagging predicaments, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat!”

About the Author

Alf Gasparro
Life long West Ham United fan, football purist, love motorcycles & soaring with the birds, usually to be found with my head in the clouds...sometimes known as RevelatorAlf