Nous sons Les Miserables! 

Alf's Rhubarb Grumble

Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m a man of wealth and taste. I’ve been around for a long, long years. Stole many a man’s soul and faith – Sympathy For The Devil – Rolling Stones.

Ah yes, those unforgettable lyrics from Messrs Jagger and Richards were penned in 1968 and who knew that they would have the mirrored pertinence today and for all of our mighty woes? Whilst we continue to struggle on the field of play, we are continuously bombarded by friendly fire from our generals who really should be court marshalled.

Just when we thought it was safe to pop our heads up from the trenches, then we hear another whine of an incoming mortar shell and all hell breaks loose.

A couple of weeks ago it was the Tony Henry affair and the African players ‘Mayem Gate’ saga. The club were swift to condone such opinion and rightly so gave Mr Henry his P45…but was this another deflection to distract our scrutiny upon a board coming under increasing pressure to be transparent. Was the Henry opinion also agreed with within the club corridors or power…was this the limit of such embarrassment that we could even withstand?

Many within the media have questioned why the fanbase are not appreciative of their lot. Isn’t there a brand new stadium? Aren’t there new signings? Haven’t the owners poured millions of their own money into the club? Didn’t the owners save West Ham United from the disaster of the Icelandic fallout? These are all valid questions…if only they were prepared to listen to the answers and indeed opinions from the West Ham faithful.

We all know there were positives along the way and the early gratitude has been eroded away by the consistent and disrespectful actions by certain parties, yet they would have us believe their actions have been indeed worthy of recognition…the laudable is quite laughable. However this hasn’t stopped the powers that be from continuing to use the mainstream media to shroud their efforts with some kind of trekkie cloaking device.

David Sullivan spoke ‘privately’ to Talk Sport’s Jim White after the Brighton game urging the fanbase to get behind the team and the club. This was met by furious condemnation from sections of the faithful who were outraged that their support for the team would ever be questioned. That was never in doubt…regardless of how much opinion is on YouTube, Twitter or any blog site that would lament about tactics, performances and the manner of wins, losses and draws. Even the broadcaster has been heavily criticised for delivering unbalanced and unbiased views on the subject. Many fans have questioned his journalistic integrity and whether he has forgotten a foundation rule of journalism; Check your sources & keep the facts consistent with reality.

All the while, the management and the team struggle to find a solution to defensive frailties and attacking prowess with confidence in midfield to control a game for the full duration. We have gone through a period of fixtures in which we have played our contemporaries and we really should have performed better, eked out improved results and bolstered our confidence for future fixtures.

Under Bilic I questioned the commitment of many of the players when their heads were held low and the drive to see better days seemed lost to them. However, I do not see that with our squad at the moment. In fact I am seeing frustration but there is still a determination within them to deliver a performance and get us a result. Unfortunately the available players have not been able to deliver a cohesive display that would dominate with a convincing win or even improve on hard-fought draws…or even save us from abysmal defeats…certainly not with any consistency and barring any impressive display such as against Huddersfield and against Watford at the weekend.

In yesteryear, we could reasonably expect that our scoreline predictions would have a high degree of accuracy…always hoping for the win but expecting a draw or loss…well…the more realistic of fans would be at least. However, this season even under Moyes, our predictive success is as likely as a Catholic Priest recanting the scripture in favour of Satanic laments in the company of ladies of the night.

The team have been unable to deliver any kind of consistent performances. They astound us with resilience against Man City, Chelsea, Spurs & Arsenal. They wow us with a drubbing of Huddersfield but fail to light up the skies against Bournemouth, Newcastle & Brighton. We have had a dreadful injury situation to many key players and the understudies haven’t been able to step in with conviction.

Many would question some of Moyes’s defensive tactics, selections and substitutions, however, for the most part, he has been dealt a bad hand since he pulled up a chair to play at the poker table and unfortunately there were few hearts willing to deliver diamonds into our club…only a big spade to dig his own fate at the season end. Whilst the club quickly released a statement to rebut allegations from a Daily Telegraph article about the future of David Moyes, it is yet clear whether indeed Moyes would even want to continue when the six-month deal is up for renegotiation.

Therein lies the crux of the matter…for we will inevitably judge the team and the manager on the league position as the final bell tolls, whether we escape to victory or are resigned second-tier humblings. However this should not be his sole burden as weighty criticism should be directed at repeated failings within the transfer windows, not only the most recent but since leaving Upton Park.

Before West Ham entered fruitless negotiations with would be targets and their purse holders, the fans were told that surplus funds would be made available to buy in new players. A final act from the board to regain some confidence from the fanbase…but that failed to materialise. Fans were told that the intention was to bring in two or three players and that any reinforcements would not be upward of 32 years old.

As the transfer window closed, the loyal massed together in frustration, bewilderment and growing anger. “Where’s all the money gone?” This was the fuel that led to dissension from travelling support and this was purely aimed at the board and not at the players…indeed some players even saluted the supporters gesturing about the finances too.

The players and the management surely know that the fans are forever supportive of them at games but the owners would use this discord as a weapon of spin to cloud the issue. West Ham sold two strikers and did not replace them with the same standard. A last-minute championship striker in Hugill was brought in but is yet unproven and the Super Mario in midfield may prove to be a game winner…but that will take time…time which we do not have.

Many of the fans have been asking for facts and figures. How much have we spent? What is the income? What is the net spend? Why haven’t we reinvested the alleged profits? Even Karren Brady has succumbed to issuing Twitter statements trying to explain certain financial & Stadia minutia but many are left puzzled seeking further clarification. Oh the pain…Oh the woe…Oh the misery! David Sullivan made a video interview, released on the club website, to address fans and explain their rationale but all it has done is lead to accusations of a cover-up and a call for greater transparency.

The transfer window closed with the club actually making a profit in that they sold two players and bought one. The other was a loan signing, even a few of the youth were shipped out on loan deals further stripping our dwindling ranks and delivering a negative net spend. You might think this is canny business if only we were in a better position than we were before…but alas poor Yorick your jokes are dying on stage and I knew them well.

This last week we received news that Patrice Evra had been spotted at the West Ham training ground. What was this? Surely an elder statesman who had launched himself into a physical confrontation with fans in Marseille would not be joining our ranks? Surely he’s too old? Obviously this was purely coincidental and he was just passing through on his way to the nearest Pie and Mash shop.

No sooner had he arrived, rumours began to swell with Sky Sports claiming the breaking news as theirs but we already knew long before they did. Yet again the board had delivered broken promises and failed to meet the expectations of an increasingly questioning fanbase. They are not content, they are not amused and I am puzzled why anyone within our organisation would stoop to make such desperate decisions. Evra may yet prove that he still has the stuff of legend and can deliver performances until the end of the season…but is he what we need? I think not but the owners and manager obviously feel he can fill a hole in our weakened defences. But…why didn’t we buy properly in January, why didn’t we target players for the positions we were deficient in and why didn’t we have a positive net spend of £25million as was alleged?

Mr Sullivan…the fans are always behind the team and the club…they are just not unified behind you and the rest of the board when you continue to release inflammatory statements, deflect the truths and make questionable decisions. We are not amused…we are the miserable!

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