Written by @lee_wilko_12
This article from myself will cover my views on the current situation at the club regarding the board, Slaven Bilic and everything in between.
Another week passes and another West Ham defeat (well two this week actually). A midweek cup defeat at the hands of Manchester United and a Saturday evening mauling by Arsenal. It is turning into a regular feeling for me this season, every time we play I get my hopes up and pray we get the three points and we see a great performance and then after it all I am left disappointed and deflated. After Saturday’s performance I saw West Ham Twitter go into overdrive, from abuse for the players, board and Bilic himself. Every account I follow had things to say regarding the situation and I saw a lot of very valid points, as well as a few stupid comments, which is normal.
I think it is safe to say this season has been an unmitigated disaster, from an early Europe exit and a summer of signings we all wished didn’t happen, to what seems now like a relegation battle. As I mentioned in my previous column, I thought summer was tragic and we failed in every way to bring in not only the right type of players, but for the right positions. After the season we had in 2015/2016, we needed the type of quality to get us further into Europe and a good league finish, it was our best chance in a long time to sign some real quality players. The season before we played some great stuff and looked like a team on the up and could push even higher up the table the following season. A brand new stadium, Europe, a manager who was getting the results we had been begging for and a team that played so well together, worked tirelessly for each other and with passion and desire. The majority of Hammers fan went into the Summer window praying for a new right back, at least two forwards, a winger or two and a midfielder for some strength in depth. What we got was a joke to say the least, two cheap owners who refused to open their chequebooks, but instead decided to use their “cunning” to try and get players on free deals and loan deals. That was the first of many bad things to come in a season that has been horrible thus far and I wish was already over. Yet again we get knocked out of Europe in the qualifiers, so straight away people were not happy with the club, going out once to a team of essentially part-timers is in some form okay and could be seen as a fluke on their part, but for it to happen a year later to the same team is shocking.
Fast forward and a few games into the season and it isn’t looking good, we haven’t had a good start with results, the stadium is not liked by the fans, crowd trouble in every game and fans starting to turn on the board. In regards to the stadium, I know it is not Upton Park and it never will be, but the atmosphere definitely can be the same, the League Cup game against Chelsea was great, the noise levels and energy from the fans was electric. That is exactly how it should be and if were winning week in week out the stadium would start to feel more like home and teams would start to fear going there. At the moment with the way things are teams aren’t afraid to come here, it isn’t intimidating in the slightest, we sure as hell make noise when it is going right, but when it is going wrong it is silent. I do feel all in all the stadium will eventually be loved by the fans, but right now it isn’t. I don’t think the stadium was ready for us to move in and use as a home ground at all. There are so many problems with it, from seating to stewards and the fact we sell popcorn, which I find embarrassing beyond belief. If these issues get sorted, I can see it eventually becoming our new home, but right now it is far from that. It feels like the equivalent of moving from a lovely house you’ve owned for years, to renting a crappy one-bedroom flat. I feel like the seating needs to be sorted ASAP, get family sections and get a safe standing area, look at Celtic and their safe standing section, it is phenomenal, the noise is deafening and the energy of that stadium is something else, it is always bouncing. In regards to the stewards it really does feel like they are really out to catch the fans out, winding our fans up, ejecting them from the stadium and putting their names forward to get them banned is pathetic. We need to hire some real stewards who can do their jobs and can make the stadium a safe place to be in and can control any trouble if it does kick off, because right now if Millwall came to our ground for a game it would be absolute chaos, none of them would have a single clue what to do. Get the stewarding and seating sorted and you’ll have the fans feeling happier and get the stadium feeling like home.
The fans are what make this club what it is, without us this club would be nothing. The passion you see from the West Ham fans every week is insane, when goals go in there are limbs flying everywhere and when we lose you better believe it hurts us just as much as the players. I feel like the board didn’t think a great deal about how much the move would affect the fans, you think about the fans that have been visiting Upton Park since they were little kids and are now fully grown adults, they go from this place they call home, to a giant empty soulless bowl of a stadium which was built for The Olympics, not football.
Onto Slaven Bilic, I love this man, he is passionate and you can tell he cares very deeply for this club and his job. I think he is taking a hell of a lot of stick for the results this season, which can be understood, but at the same time he can only do so much. What are you supposed to do when your players cannot even do the simplest things correctly? I am pretty sure we are top for errors leading to goals, we cannot score goals, we cannot defend, we can barely string passes together, let alone win a game convincingly. I think I am going to get a lot of stick for this, but I don’t want him sacked. I think he is the man to lead us forward, he is a huge step up from Sam Allardyce, who would get a 1-0 lead and then defend for the rest of the game. I do agree the post-match interview comments were very strange, such odd comments to make, saying we can’t even get any intensity in training let alone games. If Bilic has lost the dressing room then I think his days will be numbered, just look at Jose Mourinho at Chelsea last season, one of the most decorated managers in football, he lost the confidence of the players and that was it for him. Last season I saw us play some of the best football I have ever seen at West Ham, we outplayed the big teams in almost every game with them. Injuries as always are a massive thing at the club and for the life of me I don’t know why. It feels like we are the only club in the league that always has multiple first team players injured. Have we even had a fully fit squad at all this season? Every single week without fail there is someone new getting injured. I think the blame lies with the players for the results this season, the team seems so disjointed and they are acting like they haven’t played together before. We are struggling to do anything right at the moment and we have three huge games coming up after Liverpool, which will be crucial to our season. If we can get a couple of wins back to back, it could really turn our season around, but it just feels like right now that isn’t going to happen.
Now onto the reason I think we are in this mess, David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady. I now believe a strong majority of West Ham fans have had enough of them and want them gone, I know they don’t control the results but they are accountable for the Summer Window and these “promises” we were sold for the new stadium. I could sit here for hours writing every single thing these people have done wrong for and to our club, but I am not going to do that. However, there are so many off the top of my head, starting with the summer transfer window, we were told a bunch of lies about how we were going to splash the cash and buy big and get a £30 million striker, which never happened. Sullivan coming out and spouting his mouth off about this in the first place was stupid enough, as clubs knew we would spend big and push the price up. Offering Carlos Tevez £150k a week wages and making it public knowledge, if I am a player and West Ham come bidding for me, then I know they have offered big wages and I will want high wages, as they are clearly willing to pay them. I don’t know who has the final say on transfers, but it always seems Sullivan signs players he wants, I always have and always will believe the manager should decide, as he is the one in charge of the team and knows what he needs. Some of the signings made during the Gold/Sullivan era have been laughable, Modibo Maiga, Nikica Jelavic, Marouane Chamakh and John Carew to name a few. Lies upon lies regarding the new stadium, we were promised so much and we have been given so little. The stadium West Ham fans were sold and the one we got are two completely different things. It is even the stupid little things such as changing the badge after David Gold said they were never going to do it. Karren Brady’s comments about no arrests being the real winner was embarrassing and she really should keep her opinions to herself.
In my eyes, I think it is time the board left or found some investment, as I feel and know a lot of other fans feel like this club isn’t West Ham anymore. We are not a football club anymore, we are a brand, we are not fans, we are customers. It really feels like now it is all about the money we are making. We have been sold a bunch of lies for the past couple of years and if all three of them left, you wouldn’t see me shed a tear. I am not saying get some rich Arab investors so we can hope to be the new Manchester City, because I don’t want that. They aren’t a football club in my eyes, they are filled with plastic fans and they can’t even fill their stadium up every week, which is pathetic. I just want the old West Ham back, the family club, didn’t matter if we won or lost, the fans laughed and had a good time, we weren’t a brand we were a football club that you loved with all your heart and cheered on for 90 minutes every week. We are starting to lose our identity and I have even seen some fans that don’t care anymore. The board have screwed us over this season with their stupid penny pinching in the summer window and it has cost us. We are in a relegation battle and we need to start picking up points fast and get ourselves up the table.