I don’t think in all my years as a Hammer, I can’t quite recall such a momentous turnaround in fortune and in playing style in such a short period of time. It’s as if the previous seasons of grey-tinged awful mediocrity and tedium have been all but blown away in a seismic claret & blue explosion of pace, invention, movement and goals. We have gone from carnage to carnival, from woeful to powerful in quick-smart time, and the club is almost reborn as all facets of our beloved West Ham have merged and united to form a solid, cohesive, Premier League unit that has performed and produced beyond all of our wildest expectations.
As I write, we sit in fourth spot, the little east-end urchin in dungarees and cloth cap, dining regally at the top table having swapped pie & mash for oysters and quaffing champers in the exalted company of the be-suited mega-rich kids Manchester City and Chelsea, and sitting proudly ahead of Arsenal, Manchester United, Everton and others more used to Europe than not. Yes, it’s after a relative handful of games, and I fully understand that things change quickly and brutally in this division; however, we are there on merit, and we have arrived having played with a style and panache that looked impossible only months previously.
This is not a case of evolution; it’s revolution in all its power and glory, and for me, it has highlighted above all the influence of you and me, the long-suffering supporter who has fuelled this change we are witnessing where, before our wide and delighted eyes, a West Ham team now take the field who are full of youth and attacking intent, even from the back four, and have an ability to work hard and smart for the full duration, always looking likely to nick a goal from the very first to the very last minute. It’s the West Ham way on steroids if you like. God its great to see again!
I am almost reluctant to look back; it’s the here and now that really counts, that really matters. I am, however, convinced that the ground swell of anger and frustration that followed virtually every match last season – and prior – built up to such a crescendo that the owners could simply ignore it at their peril. Whatever your opinion of the Davids, let’s be clear that they are successful businessmen, and they live or die by the adage “the customer is king”. They saw the club being split and ravaged by division, by fist-shaking anger and by a genuine sadness that a once proud and vibrant club was now the stuff of tabloids and cheap-shot headlines.
They first appeased the baying mob by hoisting Teddy Sheringham on board and handing him the offensive rudder, requesting he steer the good ship Upton Park to calmer, clearer waters whilst keeping the opposition goal clearly in his sights. This in itself was a sign of intent, but with the same tired old playing style and uninspiring performers at the forefront, was anything really going to change? Probably not, and its here that the streetwise co-owners took the bull by the horns and went for broke! Exceeding the quoted transfer budget by a considerable margin, a whole new type and stamp of player was bought in; the new blueprint favoured pace, mobility, power, directness and, above all, finishing. Energy levels rocketed, average speed stats increased and all round the side was able to press from the front and stop opponents from building play deep in the Hammers territory, a previous management game plan that sent me scurrying for the tablets week after week.
We’ve all had plenty to say on where the blame lies and where the buck stops, but it’s time to move on and concentrate all of our collective energies into willing this new, exciting and buccaneering side of ours to even greater heights. Thanks to the board for sanctioning and funding the ingress of desperately needed youth, enthusiasm, pace and quality. Thanks to Sam and his staff for taking on board the absolute need to change, and for managing that change so quickly and so efficiently, and thanks to those fans who were not prepared to sit back and put up with things the way they were and who let the board know it WAS time to change.
Us, the fans, are important. We’ve vented our anger, and now it’s time to get back to what we do best; turning up in numbers and roaring the boys on…COME ON YOU IRONS!