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Heads in the clouds and stars in our eyes




By CandH blogger Allen Cummings


Apparently, according to Saturday’s Match of the Day commentator, the last time West Ham were on a similar winless run, Slaven Bilic was sacked.

That was before the game and following the resultant 3-0 defeat, the calls have grown ever louder for Manuel Pellegrini to suffer the same fate. Should it happen? Could it happen? Only the two Davids know the real answer to that one, while the rest of us have to endure the constant, ill-informed speculation.

The one certain thing in all this is that our love-hate relationship with our recent managers continues. (Just five managers between 1902 and 1989 – 18 since.) But why? Some sections of our fan base are as ready as ever to point the finger at the owners.

There’s no doubt Sullivan and Gold hold the ultimate responsibility for hiring and firing but when the job’s up for grabs there’s no shortage of ‘experts’ ready to offer advice. Who they want to fill the vacancy, what they insist is needed, which direction they demand we go in.

But do we appreciate what is actually attainable for us in this day and age? When we demand the club reach for the stars – do we do it with our own heads in the clouds?

Let’s look back at our last four managerial appointments. Take Avram Grant as a starting point. He was a complete disaster – lasted just 11 months – and in that time managed to get us relegated. The cry “get rid” was answered.

We demanded a swift return to the Premier League. We weren’t very much bothered how – just get it done. Enter Sam Allardyce who did what was asked at the first attempt. No-one seemed too bothered then about his style being a million miles from the West Ham Way.

A creditable 10th place followed the next season, but the natives were already getting restless. We wanted more. We were better than what Sam gave us. We finally fell out of love with big Sam in May 2015  – but were quickly back in love again with a former hero, Slaven Bilic.

With the help of a certain Mr Payet ‘Super Slav’ was readily seen as the main man. Finishing seventh in the league and the promise of bigger and better to come as we moved into our new home.

It didn’t work out that way. We struggled, looked to be spiralling head first to relegation in the 2016-17 season and the knives were out again – old hero or not – now not-so Super Slav was hounded out the door. Enter David Moyes – the team needed shape, structure, organisation and be fit enough to run all day. Moyes provided all of those things and saved the club from the big drop.

Everyone was relieved – but not everyone was grateful. We were dreaming of bigger and better things again.  Think big, we urged the board. Dump Moyes and give us a big name with a big reputation to match our big ambition.

Enter Manuel Pellegrini. Most saw it as a positive move, and when the board eased the purse strings and Pellegrini began to splash the cash, we were rejoicing in a manager looking to create a team built on skill and flair.

The very qualities we see as being etched in our DNA – producing the kind of football some believe we have a right to expect!  But now all is not well again. Pellegrini is under threat.

There’s a call for more organisation, more method, more emphasis on fitness and work rate. The cynics might suggest we’re looking to go back to where we were under Allardyce and Moyes.

So maybe the question to us fans is, to paraphrase those immortal words of the Spice Girls,  “…what do we want, what do we really, really want…”

Score goals like Liverpool. Battle like Burnley. Play football like Manchester City. Defend like Sheffield United. Not a lot to ask is it???

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About Hugh5outhon1895

Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!" Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon

8 comments on “Heads in the clouds and stars in our eyes

  1. Nice piece Allen – I think that you have pretty much nailed it. Not all fans want the same thing – and I’m sure that we cant all agree on what exactly is meant by the West Ham way. I for one want to see effort – I remember being pretty pleased by a 2-0 away victory at Cardiff under BFS when we went down to 10 men – I think that what is galling is defeats where it seems that the team is not trying. Maybe it is simplistic but Slav seems like a good manager who didnt keep the team fit enough (when he was the manager for the Croatian national team that would not have been an issue as the clubs would have kept the players fit)

    With Pelle I am not sure that he is suited to the rough and tumble of the Premier league – he did well in one season for Man City but Avram Grant did well in one season for Chelsea

  2. Allardyce did eventually respond to fans and we started to play with some flare to be honest but the loathing of his style had already been set in stone And his response was ignored .
    Moyes had us looking good again and imo should have definitely been given more time to build . But it now looks like Pelligrini will be given the time denied to Moyes .

    • Having followed West Ham since 1964, I have no lofty ideals of titles & Eurpoean dominance, just football that is easy on the eye and played with passion.
      I believe it was Brian Clough who said that God gave us grass to play football on.
      And that’s how I like my football, played on the ground attractively by players who give their all. I don’t mind the odd ugly win when required and I don’t mind getting beaten by the better team.
      What is not acceptable to me is a team that goes out week after week and barely goes through the motions without a shred of passion or effort. And that is ultimately the responsibility of the manager!
      I don’t think that it is fickle or unreasonable to question the effectiveness of a manager who is demonstrably unable to produce a team that is tactically equipped and sufficiently motivated each week to produce anything resembling a competent performance.

  3. One of the above would be nice…

    • I think the theme here is give us your all – and we’ll support you to the hilt. I’m happy with that. Sadly that is not enough for some of today’s supporters. They want more and more and more. It’s a sign of the times I suppose. It’s a crime to just be ‘satisfied’.

  4. I agree that it’s unacceptable to have performances where it seems like the team just don’t seem like they’re up for the fight, the palace game was a prime example, it seemed like we were knocked off the ball too easily and also half a yard short of pace in most situations . Surely with a solid team plan this could be easily corrected? We can all see that Haller is isolated, why can’t Pelle? I would argue that last seasons best results away were Everton and Spurs and if i remember rightly we played three “solid” players in midfield and let the front three try to do the damage.We just seem too light in midfield at the moment to get any kind of stranglehold on the game, this is where criticism of investment comes in, we surely needed a decent signing in defensive midfield coupled with maybe another cheap and cheerful signing as back up. there were plenty of decent reserve keepers we could have gone for but we didn’t so it does make you wonder as to what’s going on. we have an half decent squad of players but there doesn’t seem to be a plan, look at our dead ball delivery for instance it’s nowhere near good enough surely this is something that you would seriously address in training?

  5. I know I am in a minority but you don’t become a bad manager overnight . I can see everyone’s point , I know the performances are far from good enough , I hear you. I think if you take anything from MP’s interview after Burnley he knows exactly what the problem is . He said it , trust , that means trust each other, trust the manager and trust the tactics . I don’t think he has lost the dressing room but I think there a probably a couple of players unhappy for whatever reason and it’s bringing the others down . It just needs them all to sit down , chat and discuss the issues and move on together for everyone’s sake . I trust MP and Nobes to sort it between them and they just sort it . If they all work together with trust & desire they will pull it back . We have a lot of talent in the squad so I’m sure we will improve . If the players read this stuff please lads get that team spirit back , work hard & I know you can finish in the top half . stronger together 💪 COYI ⚒⚒⚒

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