The Pied Piper and the fleeing rats!

Alf's Rhubarb Grumble

“The evil in the world comes almost always from ignorance, and goodwill can cause as much damage as ill-will if it is not enlightened. People are more often good than bad, though in fact that is not the question. But they are more or less ignorant and this is what one calls vice or virtue, the most appalling vice being the ignorance that thinks it knows everything and which consequently authorises itself to kill. The murderer’s soul is blind, and there is no true goodness or fine love without the greatest possible degree of clear-sightedness.” – The Plague, Albert Camus

We have stood at the edge of a poisoned and scorched caldera for so long that we take the discomfort, peril and unpleasantness as a norm. We are the fans of expressive, progressive and creative football but more often than not we are overwhelmed by tactical manoeuvres and stifling displays that make us question what are we actually fans of?

As West Ham supporters, you would think that we are primed to offer expert opinion on the subject, but we are fools living in the plays of the past…long before many of us were even born. We reached dizzying heights in the 60’s with champions mantel in the FA Cup and Cup Winners Cup…and we provided ample ammunition for World Cup glory.

In the 70’s and prima 80’s we revelled in FA Cup success again, play was fluid if not always effective. Heroes were born and moulded in the embracing arms of our club and we left a legacy that should have fuelled generations to come.

However as the 80’s, withered away into distant memory that clouded objectives and performances, we became a shadow of our former selves. Of course there have been highlights since and many lowlights too but crucially we are without a trophy win in all that time. Not that we were ever entitled to do so, however we had a purple patch in our history that made the world stand up and take note. We produced player upon player to earn our merits and we became the source of endeavour and a production line of talent that reached into the new millennium.

Those days are gone my friends although I hesitate to shout from the rooftops either, rather preferring to let others continue in the dream like state for a little while longer at least. As a club we have seen our academy reduced to also rans, whilst other clubs have raised their game and surpassed our expectations.

The competing television companies have flooded the higher echelons of the game with so much Drachma that there is a real risk of losing any resemblance of a grounded identity. Squad players are plucked from the far corners of the globe for their supposed superiority over locally produced offerings. Even youthful participants come from far and wide with little relationship to the club and especially not the community they will attempt to serve. Parents are forced into making rash decisions with the temptation of big paydays, all the while the outsiders looking in shake their heads for the game that has been lost to the money men and the marketing executives.

Under Bilic and previous managers since Redknapp we seemed to progressively lose the ability to rule over our players with an iron fist. The commodities have got richer and more powerful to the point they would think they are divine enough to dictate…never being challenged and sulking if ever a crossed word against them.

Of course I am generalising, as there have been and continue to be good lads on the pitch who value their fortunes and are forever respectful of any onlookers gaze. But the rotten apples would muddy the waters until we regard each and every one with reserved contempt and give little sympathy for the performance blues and the off colour confidence hues.

It would take a strong man to challenge convention and clip the wings of would be falcons. To wrestle the demands of agents and personal managers whilst directing their focus onto training modes and a realignment of the players’ intentions.

I stood with the masses wondering where our team had disappeared to. One assumed they had taken flight and gone on their holidays for no one seemed up for a day’s work and not one appeared to take pride in the quality of their finished product. Supervisors and linemen were all plagued with the same indifference and beset by the common cold which lasted for way too long. Appearances were deceptive and frustrations ran riot within the squad…but the game has morphed and has moulded our opinions of how we should rate performances and gauge results.

Moyes came into the club with a short term agenda…there was little time for cajoling and canoodling. He jumped into the hubbub and set to work, laying down the law and immediately drew my attention and the respect of the players.

Our manager is a no nonsense character that publicly set the boundaries and it may well have been the best public relations coup in his arsenal. He was under siege himself as the media and especially many of the fans, myself included, questioned his suitability for the role. However, he brushed that aside to focus on the gargantuan task at hand and to all intents and purposes he has succeeded where most others would have failed.

Moyes may not have been able to thus far disprove a popular held opinion that his style lacks adventure and ambition, but he has given us so much more in the meantime…a lifeline! All doom and gloom descended after the Brighton game especially after the transfer anaemia but once again he rallied the troops for victory against Watford.

The conspirators would work against us to curtail any momentum potential as we will have waited a fortnight by the time we duel against Liverpool. With the injury list shortening and players returning to full fitness, Moyes has the opportunity to build upon the Watford offensive stance and bring us better play and better days at least until the summer when his fate will be determined and the club’s ambition and integrity will finally be judged.

Our manager has delivered with so many obstacles in his path. He has sifted through the rubble, panned some dirt…to unearth some good gold. In this wake he’s also fished out the weak links and diverted troubled waters away from our mighty pond…He is the Pied Piper and the fleeing rats have left for good, leaving the remainders as jewels to glimmer in the Saturday afternoon sun.

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