West Ham battling relegation because of fan boos, not Moyes wasting £170m and ignoring Scamacca
With goal difference separating their team from the relegation zone, West Ham fans will be thrilled to learn they are to blame, not the board or David Moyes
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Everyone has had their fun with those weird folk who strained muscles bending over backwards trying to paint last weekend’s voiceless, 20-minute edition of Match of the Day as a success.
‘That was the best Match of the Day in ages,’ they insisted, having watched it for the very first time. ‘Finally, we get to see all the goals,’ they celebrated, as the world mourned those scored but never shown. ‘Perfect. It finished in enough time for me to get one final pint in before last orders,’ cheered the strange individuals who presumably sat watching the television in their coat and shoes before nipping out for their traditional 10.45pm drink.
Craig Hope of the Daily Mail is not one of those Tory backbenchers people. He acknowledges it was a ‘soulless’ broadcast which summed up a ‘self-inflicted wreckage of a public corporation so out of touch with, well, the public’.
But he does reckon lessons can be learned from it. And his main argument revolves how ‘much of the audience would have been drawn by seeing their team before their eyes closed’.
‘At present, Match of the Day’s analysis, in newspaper speak, is like that of a Sunday edition match report – it’s all headers and volleys. Producers clip up the key moments – invariably goals and chances – and we relive them with the help of a pundit’s voiceover. Do we really need this from every game, having already watched the match package and replays? It is that repetition which induces fatigue.’
It’s the fact it starts at gone 10 on a Saturday night which induces fatigue, Craig.
‘Front-loading it with goals and action felt fresh. Let us not cast aside this version as a freak show. Why not dedicate the first 40 minutes to highlights, followed by half an hour or more of in-depth discussion?’
Because a) highlights from every game are readily available long before MOTD’s airtime, b) audience retention is a thing, and c) 40 straight minutes of goals (or goalless draws) would be as weird and gradually tiresome as the half-hour of disjointed pundit reaction which would follow.
‘The BBC’s stable of pundits are more than capable – listen to them on radio or the excellent podcast series they produce. For me, they, too, are handicapped by the format – here is every match and every goal, guys, and you’ve got 30 seconds to tell us something about each of them. It too often feels rushed and shallow.’
Alas, that cliched description of MOTD isn’t actually what happens on the show, is it? Whether or not you like the format and opinions, they obviously don’t just show the highlights and then do a 30-second dissection of every goal.
‘During the outpouring of love for Match of the Day over the weekend, the elephant in the room was that the show is in need of reform. But you can’t really say that, can you?’
Nope, because you’d get locked up. Political correctness gone mad, innit?
READ MORE: Lineker 1 The BBC 0: the inevitable result of Match of the Day’s desecration
Separate the tweet from the chaff
Andy Dunn of the Daily Mirror offers his two cents on the situation at the BBC. But the headline of ‘Gary Lineker ‘victory’ not all as it seems amid BBC climbdown over Match of the Day row’ betrays his fears.
‘There is no doubting Lineker is a man of principle but don’t expect anything remotely controversial on his Twitter feed in the near future. And that is a shame.’
The man literally doubled down on the opinion which started this whole thing in the first place in his series of returning tweets:
A final thought: however difficult the last few days have been, it simply doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away. It’s heartwarming to have seen the empathy towards their plight from so many of you. 3/4
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) March 13, 2023
Goal difference separates West Ham from the relegation zone after their 1-1 draw with Aston Villa. Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail knows precisely who to blame for their demise this season. He says that the boos which greeted the result ‘felt wrong for two reasons’.
‘Firstly, Davis [sic] Moyes’ team had not played that badly. They had drawn, not lost.’
And if that is the bar – to have 40% possession and come from behind to draw at home to an aggressively mid-table team West Ham had beaten in five consecutive meetings at an aggregate score of 13-4 – then sack favourite Moyes certainly cleared it. Well done him.
‘Secondly, the home crowd had offered their team precious little during the game so maybe it was not a surprise they didn’t get enough back in return.’
Ah, of course the fans are most culpable. Not the experienced coach, well-remunerated players or faultless board. This one is on the paying customer.
‘Regular West Ham watchers will tell you David Moyes’ team has been flatlining for a long time and they have a point.’
Sounds like that might not be the fault of the supporters.
‘The distinct lack of atmosphere in East London made it easier for Villa to play than perhaps should have been the case.’
Sure it wasn’t the manager’s tactics? Or newly-appointed Unai Emery being a better coach than someone four years into the job?
‘At places like Goodison Park, Everton, and Elland Road, Leeds, the noise and intensity at kick-off is always noticeable. Those teams have not played well this year either. Or indeed last year.
‘Everton and Leeds are experiencing back to back relegation battles. Plenty of their supporters are disenfranchised too. Yet they turn up for games determined to do their bit.’
West Ham points in Premier League home games this season: 18.
Everton and Leeds points in Premier League home games this season: 17.
READ MORE: Liverpool, Vieira, Moyes and Lingard get an almighty kicking in Premier League winners and losers
And the implication that West Ham supporters don’t or at the very least didn’t ‘turn up determined to do their bit’ is quite something. Quite how Ladyman thinks he can make that assessment of 60,000 people is a mystery and quite why he seems to hold those fans more accountable than anyone else for West Ham ‘flatlining’ recently is baffling.
‘West Ham’s ground is a strange place. It is not a great stadium in which to watch football. It does not lend itself to a natural atmosphere like their old Boleyn Ground did.’
Is it 2016 again? How come this ‘strange place’ and unnatural atmosphere didn’t stop them finishing sixth and seventh while reaching a European semi-final?
‘Nevertheless, there were more than 60,000 inside on Sunday and Moyes and his players would be entitled to ask why it was that they couldn’t hear them.’
And those 60,000, as well as every other West Ham fan, would be entitled to ask how a club can spend £173m in one season on an apparently upwardly mobile team, which also contains a £100m-rated midfielder coveted by far better clubs, only to find themselves in a relegation battle having won 15 of 53 games. Or to wonder what £30m striker Gianluca Scamacca is doing on the bench. They might also enquire as to how they could possibly be blamed for that predicament, while telling anyone pointing the finger in their direction instead of squarely at the management and board to do one.
Jarrod Bowen managed to rise above those accursed West Ham supporters ‘to remind the England manager that he has something to offer’ against Villa. Gareth Southgate can’t help but to have been impressed by the forward’s one shot and two key passes in an eighth consecutive goalless game.
He did play fairly well but is up against Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden for England contention.
‘It is harder to get in an England squad when you don’t play for a top six club,’ Ladyman adds, failing to read between his own lines and realise that’s probably because better (or richer) clubs tend to sign the better players.
‘It is also harder to come to the fore when you are an attacking player for a team that is struggling, a team that does not score many goals.’
And just to confirm: that is definitely the fans’ fault, right?