Credit to the Dildo Daves, they acted quickly in addressing the managerial situation at West Ham, following our relegation from the Premier League. We’ve been relegated before, (now 5 times in my lifetime), but I think the season just gone was the worst. Not just because of relegation, but the manner in which it happened. There just did not seem to be a fighting spirit from either the players or the manager and for that alone, Grant needed to be replaced.
The appointment of Big Fat Sam as the new manager has caused a lot of debate amongst my fellow Irons, primarily because of his perceived long-ball, physical style of football. However, most agree that if he can instill the ethics of hard work and organisation into whatever players he will have at his disposal come the start of the new season, then we will have a sound foundation on which to build for a quick return to the PL. BFS himself says that he is well aware of the tradition of the so-called “West Ham Way” of playing stylish, skillful, attacking football, and wherever practical will try to play this way, while not sacrificing results on the altar of tradition. A few years ago, I would have been less than happy with this appointment, but with the club still having deep financial problems, then needs must, and I say well done to the board on getting a manager with such a good track record.
Getting the new manager in situ so early has meant that we have pulled off a bit of a coup in the transfer market with the signing of Kevin Nolan. I was very surprised that a player that did well for the Toon last year would drop down a division, but I guess that’s the pulling power that BFS has – Nolan has signed twice for him before, knows him well and obviously has great respect for him. Nolan is also the sort of player we really need – strong, quite skillful, hard working, and most importantly a goal-scoring midfielder, decent ones of which are not easy to come by. I’m looking forward to seeing him in the claret and blue.
Not so sure with our other new signing, another of BFS’s previous players, Abdoulaye Faye. Fair player in his time, but now 33 and this signing is reminiscent of many previous purchases of older, over-the-top players that have rarely produced the goods for us. However, we do need strengthening in the central defence department, as we lack decent, experienced players in that area. Gabbidon was our only one following the departure of Upson (goodbye and don’t let the door hit you on the arse on the way out), and he has not shown anything like the form that made him one of our star players before a long term injury problem kept him out of the side.
Also on the down-side, we have lost Demba Ba, who’s gone in the opposite direction to Nolan. It was probably inevitable, but I’d hoped we might be able to persuade him to stay, albeit with financial inducements rather than career opportunities. I’m certain that Ba would have scored a shed-load of goals for us next season, and good strikers who can regularly find the back of the net are in short supply, so he is going to be difficult to replace.
Fixtures are out and the fixture computer has given us a tough start. Starting with Cardiff at home, we play 3 of the clubs that are likely to feature in the promotion push before August is out, the other two clubs being Leeds and Forest. We also have away games at Donny Rovers and Watford in the first month. So we will need to hit the ground running, otherwise things could easily start to go wrong. If we don’t get some good results and the style of play is not to the fans’ liking, then I wouldn’t be surprised to see the crowd start to turn on BFS, which would not be good news. Patience will be needed, but unfortunately is probably going to be in short supply.