Rise, Fall And Rise Of The Hammers?

… West Ham have an unfortunate habit of crashing back down to earth just when it seems that they are heading in the right direction. Jacob Steinberg in The Guardian

West Ham not flash in Australasia

By Dave Daniel

West Ham and PhoenixWay back in late July, both West Ham United and Newcastle United came to New Zealand for a pre season tournament that also involved the Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC.

Understandably the premier league teams were short on personnel and basically used the tour to raise their fitness levels. It also enabled the managers to give an opportunity to some fringe players to make their claims for places in the squads for the upcoming premier league season.

Even so, the football they dished up was pretty damn ordinary, especially from West Ham who lost to both the Phoenix and Sydney. On his return to the UK the talk in the media was that big Sam Allerdyce, the Hammers manager, was only a few strides away from the exit door.

Big Sam and Route One

West Ham SamMost West Ham fans would agree that Allerdyce was a strange choice back in June 2011 when he was appointed. He was the guy you called in when you wanted to make sure you stayed up. He created a team of battlers and was the master of the “Route One” tactics, the long ball up the pitch to some lumbering giant (enter Andy Carroll) and hopefully you picked up some scraps in the ensuing lolly scramble in the opponents penalty area. In other words he was “Anti West Ham”.

A club that had talent and flair

We are talking about a club that gave us Bobby Moore, Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst and Trevor Brooking. This was at the height of the “Academy Of Football” as West Ham were known during their earlier years.

They were a proud exponent of nurturing local talent and bringing players through that played with flair, creativity, style and no shortage of passion. They were a joy to watch. It was said that Trevor Brooking could have tripped over and landed flat on his face and still make it look graceful, a work of art.

West Ham Fat Sam OutThe truth was, they didn’t win much in the way of trophies but the fans loved what they saw. There is a wonderful sweet innocence about that, sadly lacking in the modern game.

So what has happened?  Late last year, many West ham supporters were calling for his head, even displaying a banner that read: Fat Sam Out – Killing WHU.  Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho (never short of a comment), described West Ham as playing football from the 19th century.

West Ham up to fifth on the premier league table!

Stewart DowningFast forward to the present, the beginning of November and you would probably think you were suffering a vision impairment watching the Hammers play or viewing the league table.  At times this season that have fielded up to eight new signings but more than that the style has changed.

Suddenly it seems that Sam has discovered the West Ham Way. He is playing Stewart Downing (a talented but frustrating player), at the tip of a midfield diamond. Yes, that is not a misprint. Sam, who all his life has been down the pits finding lumps of coal, has discovered diamonds!  Suddenly Downing (pictured alongside), is being talked up for an England recall.

On the coaching side he has brought in Teddy Sheringham (A former Spurs and Man Utd great) and also Neil McDonald (from Everton ), both exponents of the quick passing game. Gone is the reliance on the “route one” and they are again playing with the style that their fans have

  • always wanted
  • always dreamt of
  • always remember as being the West Ham Way.

Too good to last?

West Ham on the fieldBut wait, the big fella Andy Carroll is fit again and waiting in the wings after missing all the games so far this season through injury. Ready for the long high balls hoofed up-field and ready to crash the party.

Jacob Steinberg in The Guardian wrote:

“Some West Ham United supporters believe that the club should change their anthem if they are ever going to enjoy a period of sustained success. Their argument is that constantly singing about bubbles nearly reaching the sky and then fading and dying at the crucial moment is asking for trouble and it is true that West Ham have an unfortunate habit of crashing back down to earth just when it seems that they are heading in the right direction.”

See you next time.