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Media perspective: all change?

Filed: Saturday, 21st February 2004
By: Kit Robinson

Most Hammers fans have finally turned the corner with regard to a negative opinion towards West Ham United as a team that was going nowhere fast, to a team that could actually be going somewhere.

Could the same be said of the media? Have they too begun to view West Ham as a team that could cut it in the top flight or are they ensconced in a diatribe of hopelessness towards a club once viewed as attractive, progressive and a major source of English players?

I actually saw the word “resurgent” written in describing West Ham United last week. Although it’s not the prettiest or most complimentary of words, it was the first time in two seasons that I had seen a single word written about the club that wasn’t dismissive or totally condescending. It has been a long wait to finally see some light at the end of the long dark tunnel the club has found itself in following an awful season in the top flight that saw the club relegated, a succession of three managers, bad debt and an exodus of most of its top talent.

Yet all of these factors are connected to the revolution that was necessary at the club. The initial betting on West Ham returning to the Premier league at the first time of asking was 3/1 favourites but that was well before the proverbial faeces hit the draught excluder. I wonder what the odds became come mid-season? I dread to think.

What has been the most annoying factor of the media’s appalling attitude towards West Ham is that all of their slating, although mostly and correctly, has been aimed at the Chairman and the board, it has had no sympathy whatsoever towards the very loyal fans. Sympathy has been directed towards lower league sides that have been fighting off administration and yet there has been no realisation from the media that West Ham had to significantly reorganise itself financially in order to stand any chance of survival.

Not one of the players that Alan Pardew (or even Glenn Roeder or Trevor Brooking) has brought into the club has been deemed useful, good or even a prospect and I can only assume that this is because of the media’s love affair with “name” players. We had loads of name players but the reality is that we couldn’t afford to keep them playing in Division 1 because their wages could no longer be paid with the vastly lower income of the club. The other reason we couldn’t keep them was, to put it bluntly, they weren’t doing a decent enough job for West Ham on the pitch and they didn’t want to play for us. The obvious example of this phenomenon is the Defoe / Zamora swap deal.

As much as many observers would say that West Ham were throwing away any chance of promotion by getting rid of these players, there is no doubt that such a bunch of individuals did not have the success of West Ham as their main priority as opposed to their wages, profile and European and international careers and they treated this club as a stop-gap for their careers. Compare that with what most West Ham fans believe is happening now at this once revered club.

The reality is, is that West Ham have never been a consistently great side to play against. The highest we have ever finished in the league was one season in the 1980’s. We then Yo-Yoed between the top and second leagues for a few seasons and have never had a crowd higher than 40,000 since the Taylor report, so we could never be deemed one of the biggest clubs in the country. However, we have had our moments. A few cups, playing in Europe, maintaining a top flight status in the Premier league during the majority of its existence, we play attractive football, have a renowned youth academy and on our day are capable of beating any team in the country.

What was lost at West Ham United was any sense of status within the game. West Ham became, although it hurts me immensely to admit it, a feeder club for the rest of the Premier league. What was once a great youth academy that supplied the club with its own players that were capable of playing for the national side became a club that supplied players for other teams because as soon as they developed into world-class players they were sold. So it was / is this situation that must change at West Ham if the fans are to remain loyal. So far they have, with the highest average gate in the league this season.

Thankfully the club invested in Alan Pardew who, even if he should not succeed in returning Premiership status to the club this season or the next, has at least pointed the club in the right direction. Gone are the majority of the “name” players, whereas incoming, are a young team that wants to play for this club and treats it with a newly found respect. The crunch should come with regard to both the media and the fans support, if these players develop into great players. If the club once again finds itself in such a dire financial situation that it has to once again sell such players then that would spell the end of West Ham United.

It has taken a massive and risky revolution of thought at West Ham United, at all levels, to put the club back on course for a bright future. It would seem that the current state of affairs sees a young positive thinking team, who want to work as a unit to bring this club success. We can only hope that those that run the club have the foresight to retain the TEAM, as a unit that will fight for each other and want this club to succeed. The chairman and the board must make this club attractive again to both players and fans and give the club a sense of unity and belonging once again.

What I will ask of the media is to drop the abuse aimed at the club and those that run it. Yes it would seem that we do have a poor and very overpaid chairman at our club that has led it to the brink of collapse and yet other clubs are in a worse financial situation than West Ham United (Leeds for example) or have gone bust previously. This has become an old scratched record of refurbished statistics and old opinions that shows the writer up for what he truly is, a poor journalist.

If you want to write something interesting then give us, and the rest of the football world a positive news story by going down to Upton Park and seeing what has changed there. Have a look at the skill and potential of our players, at their attitude, at the fact that most of them are in their early 20’s and just hope for our sake that our chairman has changed his ways and won’t need to sell them. We’ve been through hell and it’s time to make our way back. Why not forget the old and bring in the new and help this club back to its correct status – the club that provides world-class players for England.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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