The John Lyall Gates at the entrance to the Boleyn Ground

There are so many absurdities in this West Ham life of ours which no doubt emulate those from other fandoms but ours has that certain added spice that makes us want to randomly bash our heads against padded walls until we are left dazed, confused and just a little more submissive.


I often dissect each game and each goal, whether scored or conceded and begin to wrestle with myself to see the good or the bad in what has transpired. I cheer when warranted and I groan more often than I would like, but Iā€™m always hopeful for a next game that would deliver some light relief as opposed to an overdose of cholesterol that would send me to a very early grave.


Not that many would corroborate my tale but I am an overt purveyor of sunshine and rainbows. I see good in every situation, my cup is always near full and I am perturbed by little. In fact I am one those lifers who can always adapt and overcomeā€¦or just choose to do something else instead and not be so hacked off by it eitherā€¦apart from when it comes to football and West Ham.


I start the season full of hope with little expectation but as soon as a ball is kicked in anger when the first proper whistle blows, then I start my downward trajectoryā€¦and thereā€™s little that can be done to stop itā€¦apart from terrific performances, lots of goals and great results.


Fast forward into late winter and we travelled west to Swansea on planes, trains and automobiles. Journeys fraught with calamitous consequences that would mirror those from yesteryear games at the Vetch Field and now under the lights of Liberty Stadium.


Our season performance lows had turned this game into one that we must not lose. A draw would be dry but a win is what we really needed. The game was poised to be a thriller of an encounter between two wayward sons but it was more like a drama between teenage ā€˜Womblesā€™ who just tried to make good use of anything they foundā€¦and we found nothing of any great value.

I thought Moyes needed to be adventurous and attacking, take the game to Swansea and use our superiorā€¦reputedā€¦talents to best effect. I could not ably reason with a defensive format that would leave our advances in league with juvenile pretenders. Of course we needed to be a force at the backā€¦for the rear guard of three to hold firm and be composed, whilst Zabaleta and Evra could play from the flanks and the backs and push on to relieve pressures upon usā€¦but all was at sea and no lighthouse to guide us home.

In midfield Noble again had to lead us to the hinterlands and come away victorious. He needed to police the grounds and govern his constables to stakeout the opposition, to learn of their weaknesses and when readyā€¦pounce to arrest any Swansea advances. However, we should have been reasonably well versed in this regard, but our weakness was converting spirited endeavours into clear and present opportunities to score one, twice and possibly even three times a charm, let alone four!


I was pleased that a space was made for Antonio in the second half as I thought his goal against Liverpool had earned him that and yet again he popped up to bag a goal. I wanted Lanzini to make his starting return in this fixture, as opposed to last week, but largely wish he hadnā€™t and for Hernandez to return to offer a poachers perspective on any penalty area ambitionsā€¦if only we got anywhere near there.


Of course Arnautovic had to be included, but I would have preferred if he could have started on the right hand side to complete an attacking midfield formation. He flitted in and out, received little and produce minimally. His vigour was telling, almost boiling over into frustration with some misplaced challenges, as did with Noble who picked up a yellow and possibly was fortunate not to pick up more for confrontationsā€¦the refereeā€™s patience was wearing thin!


All over the park, our deficiencies were as obvious as adolescent flirtations and were just as clumsy too. There were too many misplaced passes to keep track of, there seemed to be a disproportionate amount of tackles we were second best to and much of the playerā€™s purpose were overshadowed by Swanseaā€™s higher desire. Poor! Flacid! Juvenile!


After the game many fans were starting to question whether Adrian should retain his place after some errors that proved crucial at key moments. Of course he pulled off some decent saves in the process and was sold short by dubious quality back passes from ailing defenders, I feel he has made a number of mistakes which have gathered pace in recent gamesā€¦so another look at Hart would appear sensible at the very least.


My indifference towards Moyes is not because of tactical mistakes or questionable selections but rather detecting when the game plan is off key and he seems slow to react and make changes early. We have a defensive guard that is just too thin or too oldā€¦the distinct lack of pace is there to be exploited, and it has been successfully too. With this in mind, why were the elder statesmen with pace and guile wanting, selected to fulfil roles which should have been occupied by the more mobile?

Whilst Lanzini did make his return to the fold last week, I was not convinced that he should have been rushed back to save our blushes. In fact, he along with the others have surely contributed to the mire we now find ourselves in. His performance on Saturday appeared to be of a man with ā€˜short timerā€™s diseaseā€™. He knows heā€™s leaving at the end of the season and his lacklustre performances are of someone who isnā€™t on the money and is making ponderous mistakes that will catch him out.


Our beloved team is stuck in the mud and has gorged on fatty foodstuffs for too long. Too many slow sideways passes, too many mistakes and not enough light relief to perk us up. We have been like an order of large chips and mayonnaiseā€¦great to the occasional taste but totally the wrong choice when youā€™re on a health plan and only a diet coke will do.



Jon Pope

By Jon Pope

Use to sit in the BML for 10 years, been a West Ham fan all my life, and my great grandfather was a founder member of the TIW. I also help run the Hammer Chat website.

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