The result was fully expected on the basis of an appalling last few months, but the lacklustre way in which we allowed Manchester City to make it an attack versus defence training exercise was cause for yet more concern. Even a below par City proved way too smart and pacey for a West Ham team that is so lacking in confidence and spark, it’s painful to observe.
The City canter aside, the run of defeats and sub-standard performances after what was an incredible first third of the season is hard to come to terms with. Those of us well versed in Hammers collapses, be it week-to-week or season-to-season are well used to dealing with the highs (there are some folks, really) and the lows; it’s a West Ham trait that never seems to go away, no matter the manager, the team, or the money spent. But even by claret & blue standards, this fall from grace takes some beating. When some deluded West Ham supporters started talking about qualification for Europe back in October/November, I just shook my head and smiled. Nice as it is to dream, there was never a chance that we would maintain impetus and drive for a full season; history was testimony to that.
It has not been a bad season for injuries by comparison with past campaigns, though the final loss of Carroll, for me, was both a blow in terms of club morale and in terms of style options. Love him or hate him, the big guy knows how to ruffle feathers, and when the lightweight pairing of Valencia & Sakho fails to deliver, a more direct approach at least opens up other doors.
However, I am convinced that the major reason for the collapse lies with the manager; for those who need reminding that’s the bloke who gets paid millions to coach, select, motivate and MANAGE the side. Now Mr Allardyce of late reminds me of a sulky schoolboy who has been denied the last cream bun in the tuck shop. I sit eight rows behind at home games and I can no longer see the top of his head; if he slumped any lower he would be laying on the ground. You don’t need to be a body language expert to read the man’s mind or inner feelings: arms folded, perma-scowl firmly in place, gum chewing that would put a camel to shame, and a total and utter lack of will or desire to get out in front of the crowd and do his job properly. The only thing missing is a ten foot neon sign on his head that reads “**** you” and points to us, the paying fan!!
Remember the days when he would prowl his technical area like a black cloaked demon, pointing here, yelling there, and doing all but strangle the poor fourth official when things went against us. Yes, there was a glimpse on Sunday when the cameras picked up his Ethiad pitch-rage, but prior to that episode it was mainly the old slump, scowl, and chew routine; he looked tired and bereft of ideas. Shopping with his missus looked like a preferable option for him; he really looked that forlorn.
This is Sam in full revenge mode, make no mistake. How dare the fans and the board and the press express opinions about his abilities. He’s never been relegated as a manager don’t you know ! Nothing he has ever done has been his fault either. Self belief is a great trait, but when it morphs into delusion and feelings of grandeur, then we have problems.
In fairness to Allardyce on a human level, having your bosses clam up on matters regarding your future, and helping to fuel sacking and non-renewal of contract rumours cant be easy to live with on a daily basis. If you employ someone, for as long as they work for you, you need to give them unequivocal public support and backing. I don’t feel that the Davids have perhaps handled things as well as they could have, and the upshot is we have a captain in charge of a sinking ship who is watching the waters lap the deck as the boats owners shuffle around debating whether to throw him a lifeline or not.
From being a season that could have made Irons history, it has turned into a virtual wake as we pay homage to the untimely death of an early season team that looked superb from back to front. Everyone will have there theories and opinions on what went wrong and who is to blame, but the bottom line is yet again, West Ham United have flattered to deceive, have failed to last the course, and have simply choked just as the record books beckoned.
Come August, I would expect a change of manager, and a notable change of playing personnel but the way this club is run dont expect me to stick any money on it.