West Ham United – From reaching Europe to battling relegation in a year. A drastic change in 12 months and one that didn’t seem possible after our highest ever Premier League points total. But is that true? Or were the signs of this dreadful season already developing when Payet’s free kicks and talk of a Mark Noble England call up were all we were thinking of?
Read any tweet, article or forum post and you will see people blaming the manager, the players, the owners or Payet each depending on the fans opinion. But I think the West Ham malaise kicked into gear years ago. West Ham United, you see, is not United. Not United in terms of a clear coherent ideology. A strategy from the top to the bottom of the club has not been present at West Ham United in my lifetime. The academy, transfers, staff recruitment and finances have all been a patchwork of ideas for a long time.
Look at the renowned ‘Academy of Football’. The last time it produced a first XI player was James Tomkins nearly 10 years ago! But the path to the first team is a difficult one for the talented youngsters. The U23s do not get coached with the same ideology as the first team. I am not in the know, but I doubt that the head of the academy and the first team coaches even work together that often. Just reading the academy-centric articles on the official website shows this. They talk of Terry Westley’s ideas within the academy and barely mention Bilic.
Transfers as well. Nobody is sure who signs our players. Töre seemed to be Slaven’s man, Feghouli Sullivan’s and Masuaku Tony Henry’s. Having three different conflicts of ideas can’t be helpful. Look at Southampton. They have a system where they have a detailed scouting network in place so when the manager, a coach or a player leaves they have a replacement lined up who is usually perfectly suited to the club. No wonder they have dealt with losing their key men so often, so well. Koeman followed Pochettino. Tadic followed Lallana. With West Ham Robert Snodgrass followed Payet. (No offense to Snoddy, he’s good, just not one of the best players in Europe good…) At the other end of the spectrum you have the Tony Pulis’ of this world. They are in control of everything at the club. Some of the transfers and tactics may be dodgy but at least everyone knows where they stand. Slaven has not experienced this trust at West Ham. I’m not saying any one way is the right way, but it has to be better than the West Ham chaos!
West Ham is not perfect but I don’t think any one party deserves to shoulder the blame. Many areas of our club could be improved but surely a clear message of structure needs to be present. Right down from the board to the kit men we need to have a target, an aim, a plan otherwise I fear we will have another 30 years of up and downs, highs and lows, brilliant football and shocking football. But that’s why we love West Ham right? Would we have it any other way?