“I was a life guard my junior year in high school. Had to give mouth-to-mouth to Mrs. Beerman. She belched up a lung full of corned beef and chlorine. I haven’t been in a pool since”- Raymond Reddington – The Blacklist
Let me compose myself, for I am about to let fly with fury at those who have made our club a sham and one that I simply do not recognise any longer. The powers of the betters have burped a stench so foul that we can only recoil in disgust. The latest indignity being the surprise announcement that Jose Fonte was to be sold to a Chinese club with quick haste, never to be seen or heard from again…although always as a true gent he did leave a ‘Thank You’ note to the fans on his twitter profile.
Of course Fonte arrived with a big reputation and was indeed a Euro winner with Portugal. He took some time to settle into our defensive lines…even attracting some wanting stares and glares from many, myself included. However, he soon started to produce notable performances that one would associate with a seasoned campaigner.
In a vulnerable defence, he often was our saving soul to cleanse our lines and enable us to rejoice in gratitude, albeit for limited periods. Of course he was the senior fellow amongst equally ageing defenders and many would question if we needed to spruce up the back and inject some pace. For that lack of pace was to be the Kryptonite that would enable able opponents to pierce our shell and head for goal more often than we would care to remember.
During many of his early appearances, I thought he looked out of step within an already dysfunctional team. I would analyse his movement, positioning and ball play and would become increasingly frustrated by his failings, errors and the opportunities given to away day strikers.
The most frustrating part of that journey was that I knew he was so much more than what we were all witnessing. Akin now to how many feel about Hernandez, especially during the early part of the season, but the hush then descended over the masses as the Mexican ‘Zorro en la caja’ started to find confidence, form and crucially goals.
Fonte had started to find form too and was a regular top performer on match days, although the rest of the team were still floundering. You can always tell when a player of note is expecting more of his teammates when his expression is of pure bewilderment and abhorrence. However he soldiered on until injury removed him from the fray and away from an ever increasing dissension and anger from the terraces.
The final curtain was lowered when he was substituted away to Crystal Palace, with a foot injury that would only recently see him cleared for a return to duty. That fateful day when we all believed that we would walk away with three points, only to be thwarted by an Antonio error which gave away possession which led to an equalising goal.
Another player injured, another poor performance…it was becoming too normal to be feeling comfortable. However what made it completely unbearable was when David Sullivan gave an interview to the Guardian in December 2017 in which he explained and defended his position whilst publicly admonishing others for their failings and deflecting…as only he knows best…the attention away from himself and the fellow board members.
In the same interview he stated that his own children had made disparaging remarks about Jose Fonte and Robert Snodgrass… “The manager said he wanted Fonte from Southampton and Snodgrass from Hull. My kids begged me not to sign them.” West Ham fans were in uproar!
Regardless of how well or poorly individual players were performing or indeed whether they would remain at the club, surely it isn’t for public dissemination what family members think of particular players…especially those still contracted to the club. Not only was the release of information misguided but it was totally unprofessional and it caused an unfixable rift between the players and the owners. Disrespectful, Shameful and down right shambolic!
Much to his credit, Fonte did not react with heated passion one would normally expect from our European neighbours, although whilst acting as pundit the next day for a televised match…he did label the remarks as, “Ignorance”
Whilst fans vented and social media exploded, Fonte managed to shy away from public demonstrations and simply set to work to get himself fit again. It has been a long road but only a few weeks ago, the fans were starting to receive despatches that it would not be long before Fonte might be fit again..or at least return to training.
Naively, I had assumed that Fonte had put this behind him and he would return to the bench and eventually get to the starting line up at some point. I was pre prepared to offer opinion whether Fonte should jump into the starting line up ahead of Collins or Ogbonna, whom had both been performing very well over recent weeks. I was waiting for Moyes to take the tactical decision to rest one of the heroes and slot in Fonte…to offer comparable experience and to rest either of the two centre backs.
However, my analysis was cut short when the rumours gathered paced, possibly even blind siding David Gold, who only hours before had poopooed the notion as nonsense. Nonsensical indeed! For this was the kind of absurdity that many fans could no longer stomach.
Nobody denies that Fonte or any of the back lines are getting any younger, however for a squad that is thin and which our defensive ranks are threadbare, it would appear prudent to make these kinds of decisions in the summer when wholesale changes may yet be expected.
Perhaps Fonte could not bare the notion of playing for West Ham any longer and had formulated a plan with his agent to get him out of hell…anywhere would do and as far away as possible. Well, there are few places on earth further than China, so in that regard he has succeeded.
How did our club get to this point? How is it that the powers that be seem to be getting it so wrong on so many levels and with alarming regularity? If this was an isolated incident, then one might be inclined to brush this aside…however it is not! It has become a side show to an awful circus we’d wished we never paid the entrance fee to watch.
Fonte had acted professionally…our club has not! We are not privy to what has occurred behind closed doors but we can imagine it was not pretty. When our squad is so thin, then selling players would appear to be footballing criminality. We can only expect that some of the younger players will now be required to step up and be counted…especially if any injuries were to befall any of our starring defenders.
I feel sorry for Fonte because he tried to do the best for the club and the fans. It didn’t start out so great but he redeemed himself in my eyes with later performances and his character. But in the end he was faced with a decision that nobody would wish to make; A Reddington Tale or a Bullet To The Head? Well, he chose the bullet and I can hardly blame him! We wish you well!