Ian Salisbury was a West Ham scout for 20 years. He first went to Upton Park in our FA Cup winning year of 1964, aged 12 . We played Aston Villa, and won 3 – 1.
From then on he says “I went whenever I could to see this magic with the inevitable highs and lows.”
“These were the dream times, but they were built on one thing – pure football. I used to come home after a game and imagine I was Geoff Hurst, a great player, and there was the majestic Bobby Moore who would knock the ball around with such ease and always be in the right place at the right time.”
In this article Ian takes a look at the football he has watched under Sam Allardyce’s management and gives his conclusions on the man and his football!
By Ian Sailsbury
But now those words which grace our ground no longer hold true. What we were watching did not hold true to our traditions. The debate regarding Sam is still raging some fans want him gone, but why?
It has been said that he was brought in to get us up and keep us in the Premier, but in truth we were lucky against Blackpool, they were the better team on the day.
We had the best squad in the Championship and should have been automatically promoted, but as we got up everyone seems to have looked past this.
Until recently in the Premiership we had to witness the dull approach to our play, where one goal up was defended at all cost, where the ball was lumped forward and if not won or supported quickly comes back to put us under pressure, and we as fans looked for BFS to change the plan to suit the opposition.
But no it was the same old thing, week in week out. When we played Arsenal in the FA Cup Final, John Lyall and Eddie Baily worked together and decided to play a lone striker, it worked because Arsenal didn’t expect it.
WHU have played that way all the time, teams knew what to expect, they worked in the week before a match as to how they are going to cope with it.
I applaud the decision to play Downing through the middle because he has a great awareness of play and his passing is spot on.
I think Cresswell is a great acquisition and gets forward well but I am not happy that BFS has taken so long to play Carl Jenkinson because Guy Demel is too ponderous on the ball and invariably passes the ball back when he receives it.
I think we should be dominating the midfield a lot more. Yes it’s difficult with injuries but format on Saturday was down to BFS.In my opinion he should have started Poyet and if it didn’t work then change it.
I am very sorry that Nolan got booed as he came on, but I can understand the frustration of the fans because they have had to ‘put up with him’ when his all round play has been sadly lacking.
I am fearful that BFS, who sees him as his ‘on field General’ will gradually reintroduce him. He will stick out ‘like a sore thumb’, I am not a sentimentalist, the articles justifying his position because of what he’s done over the years do ‘not hold water’ with me – sorry.
We have two of the most exciting forwards in the league, but they need ‘ball to feet’ not the long ball and chase, these things are foreign to them because ‘they’ve been brought up the right way’.
I am a football purist and have not enjoyed watching the way WHU have been playing over the last couple of seasons. This is gradually changing, but let’s get things straight, the players we have signed were not signed by BFS.
He has been given the task to get them to play in the WHU way – a style completely foreign to him, which explains his lack of vision with regards to substitutions.
To be brutally honest the only way we are going to improve sufficiently is to get a manager who gets his teams to play the right way, hopefully it’s only a question of time.
I like all WHU supporters bleed Claret and Blue, I was a scout for the club from 1977 until 1997, I travelled all over the country watching players like Gary McAllister when he played for Leicester. Did we nearly sign him? Yes we did.
I was the scout that gave the player report for the infamous match when we lost away to Torquay in the FA Cup. Should we have lost? Definitely no, but this was just a week after the Lou Macari betting scandal blew up, and I think it had a large bearing on the team morale.
I went to John Lyall’s house the day after he was sacked to offer my condolences and like the gentleman he was he asked me in for a cup of tea. I couldn’t go in, no, why, because he was a man of great integrity and in typical fashion was in his garden wearing a gardening hat.
I’ve heard it said that BFS is a similar character – what a load of rubbish. He doesn’t even come close. John had been schooled by Ron Greenwood, they were football purists, who saw changes in the game and acted accordingly.
They were not stuck in one ideology which was how they could introduce our young players. Now they aren’t given a chance. What is the point in running an academy!
Do I want BFS to go, still a resounding yes, in the recent interviews he seems to suggest ‘it’s all down to us’, but I don’t think the supporters are mugs they know who’s really ‘pulling the strings’.