In boxing parlance, West Ham have become punch drunk after a season long ordeal that has left them battered and bruised. The club owners have alienated the fanbase and have stolen the club away from the traditional fan…and the team have underperformed in virtually every encounter, hence why the club find themselves in such a lowly position.
The contenders who would challenge the champions unfortunately tripped over as they entered the ring, their shoes laces had been tied together, they were fools who rushed in with without regard and without a plan. They fell flat on their faces whilst all support slowly ebbed away in disgust. This has become the West Ham Way and this is the reason why so many fans are voicing their frustrations and sadness for a club that is now lost to the money men and the corporate visitors who couldn’t care less for the results or the finality of the club itself. This is the reason why many are hesitating to renew their season tickets…or whom have vowed never to return!
Is there ever an end in sight to this hurt and can anyone offer a solution that would right the wrongs and put the club back on track? It goes without saying that the anti board feeling has reached its critical mass now but fans almost feel impotent to do anything about it apart from limited protests or bemoaning on their social media network of friends and followers.
The focus since the Burnley game has been to support the team and to give them the confidence to play the kind of football that would bring in the points and end the season on a high. However, how can one expect to continuously cheer on a team that offers nothing in return? Initially it seemed to work with a victory against Southampton, but then a challenging performance against Chelsea donated another point to be followed by two losses to Arsenal and Man City, conceding 4 goals in each game. It has become another downward trend but the manner of defeat has become the most challenging to accept and the players seem unable to raise their game nor their spirits to fight for the very salvation of the club.
However, are the fans misreading the situation or are there failings at every turn and which is difficult to lay the blame totally at the feet of a single door? Of course the players have crossed the white line and the team has not performed consistently…but that does not apply to all players. Some have continued with steely determination, endeavour and purpose if only lacking some quality or fortune at times, whereas others have failed to make the grade on too many occasions.
It is this split in the camp that appears to be frustrating all within it and whilst they might admit an inferiority against the Champions of the league, that surely does not mean that they should accept defeat as a known quantity before the game has even begun? For some players that was indeed the case, whilst for others the fight was there to be had, but Moyes was not interested in any knockout blow, rather stretch it out to a match of points or a narrow win or loss.
Under Moyes the players have not been able to express themselves and operate freely either. They have been tasked over and over again to defend for their lives, but the tactic has become stale and their proficiency is waning under the increasing pressure of the predicament. The starting line ups are representative on the manager’s negative posturing, the formations have ceased to be effective and the substitutions are too little and way too late to offer any change in fortunes.
It has been a torrid affair from start to finish…and Bilic does not escape criticism either, but neither do the players at every level. The fans have been driven to distraction and have become embittered with the catalogue of errors, mistruths, failed ambitions and abject performances…when all most fans really want is for their team to apply the camouflage paint, get tooled up with bats and knuckle dusters…and get stuck into the fight. Can anyone really believe that the next level was within reach? Perhaps not, but to not apply themselves with purpose has been the biggest betrayal of all.
The West Ham universe has been rocked to its foundations and the core is found to be a rotting pile of dung. The managers have failed…especially Moyes, the tactics and formations have been negative, defensive and poorly executed…especially by Moyes. The players have failed to impress, be consistent, create opportunities and play with any sense of cohesion. Overall the playing and coaching staff have let themselves, the club and the fans down, albeit they may have tried their best to gain better outcomes.
The team has now reached the final rounds and the players are battered, swollen with lumps, bumps and fatty rumps. They are barely able to see the opponents through their squinting eyes. They are punchy and they are breathless! They see three of everything but cannot focus on any to launch an assault, so aimlessly aim for the one in the middle. Moyes is their Micky Goldmill…screaming from the sides, whilst the Champs still return fire…blow for blow.
This is the point when all players, both young and old must shed the shackles that have hindered their displays and Moyes must allow them all to play on the front foot, defend as a unit and make challenge for every ball. This game of football is their life and livelihood and it is the air that the fan’s breath. The support need a Rocky Balboa of a team to never give up the fight, get up when knocked down and always charge like a LaMotta Raging Bull. They need a Rocky spirit to carry on regardless, persist when all is lost and try to do a Hammers’ dance through opposition defences…if only they could.