F365’s early losers: West Ham, hitting rock bottom

Date published: Saturday 10th March 2018 5:50

As far as picking an image to define West Ham United in its current state goes, Sunday’s back pages will have their pick.

Was it the fans holding up a banner declaring the message ‘Sold a dream, given a nightmare’?

Was it the home supporters attempting to storm the directors’ box before David Sullivan made his escape?

Was it supporters fighting between each other in the stands?

Was it Mark Noble throwing a pitch invader to the floor, like a pub fight played out in front of a live audience?

Was it the one West Ham supporter raising a corner flag above his head after entering the field, as if he was announcing that he had conquered a new kingdom?

Was it Burnley’s players having to invite young children to sit on the bench in order to keep them safe in the stands?

Was it David Gold being hit in the head with a bottle of p*ss outside the ground?

Personally, I’d go for the photograph of Trevor Brooking sat in the stand, surrounded by empty seats as he witnessed the horror and madness unfold. Brooking, a man who would do anything to make this situation right but is powerless when up against this level of incompetence. Brooking, the rock of decency in an overwhelming sh*tstorm. Brooking, sat in a claret-and-blue seat in a claret-and-blue-and-white elephant, dreaming of the place West Ham used to call home.

This is the house that West Ham built. Nobody is advocating violence or the type of nonsensical behaviour that too many at the London Stadium displayed on Saturday afternoon. There were four separate pitch invasions, and West Ham can expect to receive letters from the Football Association informing them of significant charges. The least they deserve is a huge fine and the threat of games played behind closed doors. Anyone of a West Ham persuasion present against Burnley may consider that more of a reward than punishment.

Violence is unforgivable, but it is the result of rising anger. Anger that stems from thousands of loyal, passionate supporters being taken advantage of by their club. There is a direct correlation between the ineptitude of West Ham’s ownership, the performances on the pitch and the disillusionment from the stands. Football club management – and mismanagement – begins at the top and drips down. Everyone at West Ham is covered in the slurry.

You can blame the players, but they are directed by a manager whose ability to inspire players has been eroded by failure. You can blame Moyes, but he is working on a stage on which those above him keep placing banana skins and oil slicks.

This week, West Ham’s owners reportedly promised Moyes that he could spend £60m on new players if he keeps West Ham up. This is a manager who has taken 21 points from his 19 league games in charge, and five from his last seven when the club needed him most. West Ham have conceded 11 times in 270 league minutes.

If this whole mess, from stadium move to lurching between managers and styles while making promises of grandeur, has proved anything, it is that throwing money at a problem cannot buy you love. And a football club of West Ham’s size is fuelled far more efficiently by love than anything else.

This is what Gold, Sullivan and Karren Brady have presided over, a club that has coerced its fans into mutiny. Next comes apathy, and then desertion.

The idiots will make the headlines and generate the controversy, but there are thousands of decent supporters who West Ham, in this state, simply no longer deserve. Only when the club’s hierarchy accept culpability and resolve to move on or move on up can it move forward. West Ham have hit rock bottom.

Daniel Storey


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