In recent weeks, pundits, journalists, managers and fans have been concluding that West Ham United are becoming the new ‘Stoke City’. Personally I find this laughable and degrading to both West Ham United and Stoke City. Simply because the objection of what is ‘long ball’ football and what is ‘direct football’ has become so blurred.
This weekend, I came back from Upton Park feeling fairly perplexed. I wasn’t sure of what I had seen from our performance against Newcastle United. I wasn’t sure of whether it was a hard earned point, two points dropped, or if either team deserved anything from the game. Nonetheless, I arrived home and saw that Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew had said, ‘you’re going to get a lot of balls in the box when you come here’. He could only have been referring to the fact that West Ham United like to flood the box with crosses. However, I then later thought that this was a reference to the link that West Ham United are becoming a new ‘Stoke’.
Firstly, I couldn’t care less about West Ham United’s style of play. I’m not bothered if we play football that wins awards for being over pretentiously brilliant, or if the ball touches the floor once in 90 minutes. All I want to see from West Ham United is energy, passion, and commitment with hopefully some wins. Entertaining football is winning football. Not one comment will be made about the club’s style of play if we win; however if we draw or lose, it’s dying out long ball football. Nevertheless what is ‘long ball’ football?
Ashley Westwood played a perfect fluid through ball to Gabriel Agbonlahor at Norwich at the weekend, this assist set up a pivotal win for Aston Villa. Was this a long ball? The ball must have travelled at least 25 yards to Agbonlahor, surely that is a long ball. Recently, Wayne Rooney passed an inch perfect ball to Robin Van Persie for his second goal over Aston Villa. This has since been called one of the goals of the season. However this ball was played at least 40 yards. Was this long ball?
Of course they were long balls, the football was of course direct. When was it law that every club has to play perfect fluid football? Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis have found ways to win football matches. They keep their teams in the Premier League. Stoke aren’t yet safe, but they are highly unlikely to drop out now. If Pulis and Allardyce keep their team in the Premier League, everyone is happy. If managers, fans, pundits and journalists want to link West Ham United to Stoke City, good for them. I’ll certainly take a media perception of being a ‘Stoke’ over welcoming Doncaster and Bournemouth to Upton Park next year. I’m sure Mr. Redknapp and Mr. Adkins would be happy to do so too.