Trevor Twohig > In the pursuit of a decent storyline, the average football fan hears a few tall tales over the course of a season. This can often be multiplied in the case of the happy Hammers for a variety of reasons. Takeover talk at the end of a disappointing transfer window, the installation of new directors to gain entry during COVID, even the return of the vilified Marko Arnautovic. This season has not disappointed, when it comes to the West Ham media circus.
One discussion point that continues to gain traction, is the belief that West Ham’s new found success is down to the removal of supporters due to the global pandemic. Initially, I gave this one a wry smile and went about my life happily, safe in the knowledge that these churlish comments wouldn’t get any airtime. That is until the theory refused to go away. So much so, the oft-reliable West Ham supporter, Rio Ferdinand, alluded to it during Monday night’s dismantling of Sheffield United.
So, if we analyse this theory, our success has been in large part to the Olympic Stadium, renowned for its lack of footballing atmosphere, being empty? How is that even logical? When pushing these new found naysayers, they will suggest that West Ham fans are a divisive bunch and are quick to get on the players’ backs, especially at home.
Looking at the season and how it began for the Irons, there could be a kernel of a point here. We lost our first match, a game we all believed we ‘needed’ to win, due to the impending fixture list. That Newcastle defeat saw a disappointing West Ham outgunned, and the outlook for the season certainly looked bleak. However, any self-respecting supporter would have been buoyed by a far improved performance at the Emirates the following week, where we were unlucky to leave empty handed.
The next game, wedged in between two cup victories, saw us take on Wolves at home. A game we have traditionally never fared well in, yet we ran out 4-0 winners, much to the surprise and adulation of the Hammers faithful.
There is a possibility that the home fans may have been nervy about this game, given the ropey start to our Premier League campaign, but to suggest that the fan’s reaction would impact the players to such an extent, is nothing more than ludicrous.
It is easy for fans of other teams to see the headlines and fail to understand the nuanced and multifaceted issues that West Ham fans face. Supporters are rightfully partisan having watched years of lacklustre football, played by mercenary players under incredibly dubious ownership.
It is always darkest before the dawn however, and David Moyes’ squad of misfits have surpassed all expectations. They have done this through slow improvement and industrious, empirical organisation. The team works hard, incredibly hard for one another, and the camaraderie is plain to see. The football, at times, can also be pleasing on the eye. How can anyone complain about putting four away against title chasing Leicester City at the King Power? Or scoring three in eight minutes to deny Spurs a home victory?
As a home and away season ticket holder, this myth needs to be put to bed right now. I can understand why people might think we would not have fared as well if fans were allowed, but it is nothing but a scathing falsehood, peddled by those who do not understand the depth of feeling at our great club.
West Ham fans are a passionate bunch, but we are simple folk too. We want to see hard work above all else and the current squad does this in spades. We have flair up front and a homegrown core that any squad in the country would be proud of. We have arguably the best centre midfield pairing in the Premier League. Before you spit out your tea, think of how many other pairings you would take over Rice and Soucek.
Whether by luck or skill, the owners have fallen upon a winning formula that the East London faithful have been craving for a number of years now.
Who knows, we may even have a European adventure to look forward to. It is the epitome of lazy journalism to suggest the fanbase is so toxic that it would impact results on the pitch.
Our deep-rooted issues have nothing to do with what happens on a matchday.
I have been in the London Stadium when it has been rocking, and I am gutted that we cannot be there to enjoy our long-awaited renaissance and be creating memories for a new era in the history of this great club.