In part two of our exclusive interview with Hammers Legend Ian Bishop, we chat to the former graceful midfielder about what is currently going on in his world, the Claret & Blue world, what the future holds and much more.
During Bishop’s time as a Hammer, he had the pleasure of playing under the so-called Del-Boy of football in manager Harry Redknapp. So, with the 52-year-old witnessing teammates flow in and out of the door frequently, what does he think of our summer business this summer compared to last?
“Night and day. Joe Hart, Zabaleta will get to feel the same euphoria as myself and a few others to pull on the shirts of two very special football clubs. Arnautovic is someone I have been touting for a couple of years now, and to land a natural goal getter like Hernandez makes me want the season to come sooner”.
In summer 2016, we captured the likes of Simone Zaza and Jonathan Calleri, who would go onto become flops in a Hammers shirt. However, our recruitment has been visibly better in this Transfer Window, in bringing the Arnautovic’s and the Chicharito’s like Bish proclaimed.
Much is made in modern Football about the temperament and physicality of players intertwined with problems like cheating and diving. However, these problems were not so prevalent back in Bishop’s playing days. The game was an entirely different entity back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, and this is what the legendary midfielder had to say about Football then and now:
“There are obvious differences,” explained the former Manchester City man.
“It is so much softer now. Players have no respect for each other in my opinion. The integrity has gone. I love to watch a good fast paced game where the ref isn’t conned too much but they are few and far between”.
Another feature of the game that we all know and love today, is the amount of money in the fold and the fees that are being paid for such players as Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and who could forget Neymar. However, in the different world of Football that existed 20 and 30-years ago, Bish was signed by Lou Macari at Upton Park for £500.000. Many Hammers fans will now wonder what a player like Ian would cost nowadays, but what does the man himself think of the amount of money in the game today?
“The price of players is only relevant to the money coming in. It is still on a scale. I do believe the player’s salaries reflect this also. There is a few who I don’t believe earn it, but overall athletes in other sports especially here in the states have been getting paid huge amounts for a decade before the Prem, so I have no issues with what they earn”.
Among our highest earners at The London Stadium are the duo of Pedro Obiang and Manuel Lanzini, who, like Bishop did, ply their trade in the centre of the park. But what does the former graceful midfielder think about Slaven Bilic’s current options in that position?
“I think it has been difficult for them with no established striker for a while for them to feed. This season will make a world of difference”.
Bish was of-course referring to our striker-crises last-season, where woeful Argentine Jonathan Calleri featured throughout the closing games in the absence of Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho. This resulted in a dreadful run of form and a finish to the season to forget.
There have been rumours in the past stating that Bishop may return to the Hammers fold one day as an attacking coach, but the cult hero was quick to dismiss a return to the Premier League when we asked him about his future and what his current projects are.
“I have been working on a training aid for grass roots players. I was coaching youth players for ten years here but have hung up my coaching boots, as it is too difficult here to make the powers that be see sense.
Bish also light-heartedly added, “I play some Poker and ride my Harley” in relation to his current hobbies and past times. The comments will end the speculation and disappoint Hammers who were dreaming of a reunion for the great, but it will be a well-deserved rest in retirement for Bishop.
The final question that we asked the cult hero in our exclusive interview was about an issue that is close to the heart of every Hammer, the move to Stratford. Bish had the pleasure of playing at Upton Park in its heyday and is clearly not a fan of the controversial London Stadium.
“I am old school and believe in the old-style football stadium,” testified Bish. “But it was a great place to play and we feared no one there. I miss the place like mad since moving in 98 but will always have amazing memories”.
The elegant midfielder clearly has fond memories of the arena in which he scored so many dazzling goals and shares the pain that is felt by many Hammers fans as it lays in ruin.
Even 19-years after he departed East-London, Ian Bishop remains a true cult hero and an all-time Hammers great. Also, a man who still clearly has an undying love for the club that he spent the majority of his career with, but overall, a footballing icon and a true gentleman.