We aren’t as stupid as some managers seem to think we are

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Sam AllardyceLike many Hammers fans, for me, this season can’t end quick enough. I struggle to recall a season, even during the days of Avram Grant, Alan Curbishley and Gianfranco Zola where my beloved club has received so much negativity and scorn from both media and fans alike. The former I can cope with, but to see what is, in effect. virtually a civil war breaking out amongst some of the countries most loyal and dedicated supporters is a real eye-opener, and just illustrates the depth of feeling that has been generated by a multitude of factors.

The pro (dwindling in number I feel) and anti-Allardyce factions are having a field day; one mans “has steadied the ship in accordance with instructions” is another mans “Clueless, hopeless defensive minded dinosaur”, and probably the truth lies somewhere in between.

Allardyce, the playing staff, the board and the fans have all received their share of flack of late, and its getting hard to see the wood for the trees, such is the degree of comment and opinion flying around the Boleyn during these difficult and uninspiring days.

It has almost become a chore for some of us to support a regime, ( as in Board and management, rather than the team we all love to bits), where the silence from the top is deafening, and the excuses from the manager are constant, familiar and usually, slot neatly into the “nothing to do with me guv” category where the fault lies with refs, linesmen/women, injuries, poor finishing, defensive mistakes, bobbly pitches, bad luck, more bad luck, and, well, you get the picture. I must at this point, however, give huge credit to Sam for not using the following excuses for our appalling season: Plague of locusts, gypsy curses, high levels of radiation, acid rain or alien invasion. However, in fairness, there are two games left so watch this space…

The Gold/Sullivan tag team, ably assisted by Wonder Woman, have spent so much time, effort and money brainwashing/convincing the rank and file that the Olympic Stadium will take us to new heights, that they appear to have forgotten that the rest of us have had to grit our teeth, put the West Ham scarf, gloves, underpants and socks on and plod down to Upton Park in the hope that something resembling a half-acceptable performance will be witnessed.

How many games have I left the ground in good spirits and delighted I made the considerable effort to attend ? Hardly any. But like most of us, I was back two weeks later, just praying that I would see something that resembled an attacking force. Some hope, even at home.

Sam does one thing better than any manager in the history of the game; he totally ignores anyone who dares take up a contrary opinion to his. Players do as they’re told and fans get what they are given and tough if its not to their liking. Which idiot once proclaimed that “the customer is king”?

Tactically, the season has been basic to a laughable degree. For me, the pinnacle of his muddled and disjointed thinking involves his latest tactical masterstroke. This involves chasing a game (Crystal Palace & West Bromwich Albion), putting on another striker (so now we have two big lumps up front in Andy and Carlton, both there to head goals remember as neither score from outside the box or from cleverly threaded through balls), and then promptly removing both players who’s specific job is to put the balls in the box….for ….you are ahead of me here…Andy and Carlton.

I’ve managed and coached at semi-pro level, and I have friends running teams across the age spectrum, and to a man, they are as nonplussed as I am about this ”shoot yourself in the foot” substitution policy. On what level does removing both lines of supply to your strikers work? Answers on a post card please.

As the “Vote For Sam” brigade are quick to point out, Sam Allardyce has indeed done what has been asked of him; promotion, consolidation and, by default this season, further consolidation (thank god for the awful Fulham, Cardiff City and Norwich City). However, what he hasn’t done is convince me and many others that he is the long term solution or the right man to take West Ham forward.

Tactically, it is beyond any reasonable doubt that the man is limited to the point of wearing a coaching straightjacket. Expansive attacking tactics are simply not his way. His Bolton side were based on the diagonal or wide ball in to Kevin Davies, and an almighty fight for the second ball. Effective to a point but hard to watch. Newcastle fans, to this day, aren’t slow to tell anyone who will listen how dull and uninspiring the football was.

If, at the end of this season, it’s not a case of “thanks Sam but no thanks”, then I fear further disharmony across the board, more yawns than cheers, and another hard, hard season. We just need the right man to understand our history and ethos, not mock and undermine it, understand that football involves offence as well as defence, and show us long suffering fans some tactical understanding. We aren’t as stupid as some managers seem to think we are!

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Plaistow born Spencer is a lifelong Hammer and having spent half-a century plus, enduring this lifelong obsession, along with every other West Ham supporter, knows exactly what it takes and what it means to wrap that Claret & Blue scarf round your neck every other Saturday and head off for the Boleyn !

A Chartered Surveyor by profession, Spencer, now 58, has played, coached and managed at semi-pro level within Essex for a number of clubs, and, simply unable to give up playing, currently turns out for the Iron Maiden Over 35’s side when he is not watching the Hammers, playing guitar in his Classic Rock covers band Gunrunner, or more probably, injured yet again!


  • Gary says:

    There is absolutely no point in removing Sam to replace him with another ordinary manager such as malkey , unless we get better, and that’s a manager with some clout , a winner , eg Benitez , we may as well stick with him for now as he always meets the remit,

    • Ray_The_Hammer says:

      The simple answer to your point, which is totally correct, is that the remit needs changing along with the manager. Football is an entertainment business and that is something that has been sadly lacking at the Boleyn all season. We don’t need Jose or Pep, I’m sure we can find someone that can win 40+ points, score a few goals & give us something we actually enjoy watching.

    • Spence55 says:

      Gary. For a club built on a long and applauded tradition of passing, movement and innovation, Sam Allardyce was the last choice for most of us. History tells us he is incapable of playing expansive and attractive football. West Ham and Allardyce are not, and never will be a match. I totally agree that there is no point in appointing any old replacement, but someone with ideas beyond keeping a clean sheet must be an improvement, surely.

  • Ray_The_Hammer says:

    Nice piece mate. Sums up precisely how I feel & had me chuckling all the way through 🙂

    • Spence55 says:

      Cheers Ray. I need to lighten some of the pieces up or we will all be throwing ourselves of Beachy Head !!! Fingers crossed that we can make it 3 in a row against Spurs !

  • Northern Sold says:

    Of course West ham fans are stupid. You only have to look at some of the moronic posts on fan sites and online newspaper comments made by fans. The majority have no idea. Even you slag off the owners and Karen Brady when they are the best owners and board that I can remember. Sam was right, our fans are deluded. Having said that, Sam has to go and I think he wants to get the sack for his compensation. The scary thing is his replacement.

  • peter iron says:

    Any supporters who can’t put aside their “own agendas” for the 90 minutes it takes to play a match and get behind the team , and try to lift the players leave me bemused .I have watched this anti Sam movement gathering pace over the last few weeks and these fans are in danger of throwing out the baby with the bath water .Surely you cant want us relegated again just so long as Sam goes ? And yet by not getting behind the team on the pitch that is exactly what may still happen ! And as for slagging off the owners , they are the best owners we have had in living memory and the two Davids are real supporters of WHUFC .i challenge any one to name any better owners we have had ! What we need is some stability to try and avoid yo yoing between the Premier league and the Championship and if it means putting up with an unpopular manager for a couple of seasons so be it .It’s WHUFC that matters at the end of the day as far as i’m concerned , and WHUFC is the eleven men wearing the shirts on the pitch and they need your support not your boos and jeers .

    • Spence55 says:

      Peter. There is this myth about Allardyce that he is some kind of guru or saviour, the only man able to help us survive and it looks like you have bought into this perceived nonsense. His track record consists of what exactly? Producing dour, defensive, negative performances where the only thing that seems to matter is a clean sheet. I am not happy to pay £800 a season to watch unstructured football I could see on any park pitch. Perhaps you are. There is a reason that the ant-Sam movement has gathered momentum and is so vocal. We are not happy with the way OUR club is being run. Put up and shut up is not an option for those of us who care about where we are going. Don’t confuse wanting whats best for the club you’ve supported all your life with “own agendas”. And where is the logic in equating Sam leaving with relegation ?? Ive never ever booed or jeered or not turned up – it just hurts to see what has been going on with the team ive supported loyally for over 50 years ! COYI..

      • JB says:

        Yes Spence55, even this clean sheet myth has now dried up. That is 10 games now without a clean sheet, apparantly more games without one than any other club in the Premier League. After our 4 clean sheets in a row, we had the most, being 13, after our 2-0 victory on 11th Feb, Chelsea matched that on 8th March & are now on 17 clean sheets, but the 11th Feb being West ham’s last clean sheet!, & with 10 games since & no clean sheets!!! The injured players had returned long ago & we could be heading 6 consecutive losses. There are absolutely no more excuses left & no records that Sam can hang onto & get credit for now. We are like a dead duck in limbo trying to see out the 38th game above 3 other clubs. Thank heavens there aren’t 1 or 2 games more than 38 to a season!

  • peter iron says:

    Dear JB & Spence , i am not defending Sam , merely stating that all the negativity may well have had an effect on the players moral at a time when they want your support ,you may not have booed but many have , who knows how much this negativity has contributed to our recent bad run of results ? It’s something you can’t see like air but the 12th man effect is very real and can and does affect results . The people holding the Fat Sam out banner presumably didn’t knock it up on the spot , so the protest was pre planned regardless of what result we got at WBA .You may well have succeeded in removing BFS from the club ,be that the owners choice or his but lets hope we are not looking back in a years time at relegation and wishing he was still here , because i can’t think of any manager who would want come that would bring pretty football ,results and stability .Look at how many times we’ve been turned down by the likes of Martin O’niell and Strachan etc . We are at a crucial time for our club with the OS move looming closer and i think we are in real danger of being relegated before the move takes place which will be a disaster .And the “fans ” may just help it happen .

    • Spence55 says:

      Peter. I totally agree about supporting the team at matches; anything else means you may as well be supporting the opposition. However, there comes a tipping point for all of us paying decent cash for what is supposed to be “entertainment”. I really struggle to remember a season in the last 50 when near as damn it every game has been a defensive struggle and at times really hard to sit and watch. Football clubs are give and take; we support the team in return for entertainment (not success with West Ham, but ive learnt to accept that and live with it !!). When I see what Laudrup, Poccetino and lately even Hughes at Stoke, Bruce at Hull and Pulis at Palace have done with limited sides in terms of decent attacking play and movement, is it any wonder the opposition fans roar of “HOOF” goes up every time another 60 yarder makes its way to Andy Carroll.

      Lets make no mistake Peter, if it wasn’t for the awful Fulham, Cardiff and Nowrich, it would have been West Ham sliding through the trap door this season; it looks like we have stayed up by default. What would the opinion of Saviour Sam have been then from those clamouring to keep him ? I want what is best for West Ham United. Its not Sam Allardyce.

  • JB says:

    Well this is another blow for Sam eh? As Morrison has real talent. This is only the tip of the iceberg really & it is this resentment that any potential player has of not wanting to come here & work under Sam that has me worried, in case Sam stays here for next Season. Look at the talent that Michael Laudrupp was able to bring into Swansea. If someone such as Laudrupp was manager we’d make some great signings, with people wanting to come here & play under him, we can’t have Sam just running rough shod over any real talent we have &/or want to aquire for here.
    West Ham striker Ravel Morrison, 21, who is on loan at QPR, will only return to Upton Park if manager Sam Allardyce leaves.
    And yes, peter iron, I agree in what you say, in that negativity can affect players. I don’t agree with it, but at the same time I can understand fans only being able to take so much before they have to unbutton their lips. When Sams grinding games start to happen week in & week out, and his restrictions on players wanting to express their flair & talent, well that suppression of talent by Sam is also negativity from him in not allowing a free flowing game to happen, then eventually something has to give, you can’t expect people to put up with crap forever!

    • JB says:

      For your information peter iron, I never supported the sacking of Sam in the poll, maybe I should have? I like to give someone a chance to turn things around, but can you really see things improving next season under Sam? because I am not very optomistic they will. We didn’t really have a very good season last year either. We had the same issues & concerns & people were calling for the sacking of Sam then. I never was, and we didn’t get safety last season until after game 34 with Wigan who we beat 2-0, so it wasn’t until we only had 4 games to play, that we got past 40 points, but I never turned on Sam, in fact I thought Sam had turned it around this season & we had safety after game 32 at Sunderland, but it seems there really is nothing left now. We are completely out of steam with no decent players wanting to come here & play under Sam, & we definitely need new players, badly, so my loyalty for Sam has turned towards loyalty for our club first & foremost, & a change, if it happens, I now feel, would be for the better. If that’s what people want, then we’ll see?

  • peter iron says:

    Negative fans have never saved a team from the drop !

  • ronboy29 says:

    Excellent piece Spencer and particularly in pointing out that unhappiness with Allardice and his style of play does not mean that we dont or wont support the shirt and the club no matter what. If you attend Upton Park you will hear immediately the vocal support and the whole hearted Bubbles we all express. Is anyone surpised when the mood changes when we see players we know are not up to Premier standard and owe their place to the managers obsession with boring, frustrating, negative tactics. Are we really supposed to applause when they constantly misplace passes, continue with the hoofing when it is so obvious that it is fruitless and have one player in particular spending most of his time goal hanging and leaving such as Mark Noble running his socks off to defend the mid-field. We are always out-passed and is it any wonder that our defence, playing so deep, often fails to withstand constant attacking pressure. As to subbing tactics if any one can explain the tactical thinking behind it let me know. 79 years a hammer and for the first time I wonder if I can take another season under this manager. It will cost the Davids but enough is enough.

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