Filed: Wednesday, 23rd May 2012
By: Paul Walker
Itís taken me a few days to get my fuzzy head around it all, I am sure you all understand(!) but the sheer joy, relief and elation of Wembley and promotion deserved to be savoured before thinking about next seasonís relegation battle.
Because thatís what it will be if we donít get it right this time around. Last time we went this way, we got to the FA Cup Final (the only thing we lost that day was a penalty competition), finished ninth and stopped Spurs getting into the Champions League on the last day of the season.
Then everybodyís enlarged egos got the better of them, none more so than Alan "all three of me ex-teams have got promotion" Pardew.
We were in Europe and decided to Ďsigní two World Cup stars - Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez, both of whom have since claimed Champions League winnersí medals - on dodgy contracts. The rest is a painful history.
Elsewhere in that squad and staff there was too much money, too many posh cars and a belief they were better than they really were. And that includes Pardew.
Alan Curbishley (criminally), Franco Zola (too inexperienced) and Avram Grant (just too bad) came and went and we were down in the Championship again.
Now Iíve thought about this next statement for a while since Wembley, not sure that I should let my heart rule my head again, but Iím prepared to think that this is now the rebirth of our great club. There, Iíve said it.
The reason is that I do not believe Sam Allardyce, whatever anyone thinks about his style, will let any of the aforementioned situations happen under his watch. Yes, I know Steve Kean has re-opened the can of worms that is Samís transfer legacy,and there may well be legal action on that one.
But I recall Sam falling out with the BBC a while back over the expose programme that dragged Harry Redknappís reputation (now stop laughing) into the open. And I donít think there was anything more than threats of legal action then, but no real action.
In fact, had our beloved Davids axed Grant in the January of last year and employed Sam then, I doubt we would have gone down. Certainly we wouldnít have thrown away a string of 2-0 leads.
But Iíve listened carefully to people like Matt Taylor - who came across as a really clever, calm, sound professional in a TalkSport interview this week - as well as Ian Wrightís opinions on Big Sam.
Mark Noble - what a star the little man has become - and Kevin Nolan covered the subject this week, as well as some of the more sensible commentators. And the view is that Sam is much higher thought of inside the game than he seems to be amongst a small minority of Hammers fans this season.
Hearing Taylor outline the technical aspects of Samís season, plus the outstanding medical set-up we now have (not something weíve always been able to say) and you realise what a sound, professional manager we have.
He did what it says on the tin. Promotion first time around. And very few have achieved that back to the top flight. History, I believe, will view this season in a different light to the perception of how some West Ham fans are supposed to feel. Itís been a miracle.
Sam this week pointed to a squad when he took over who were in disarray, no spirit, full of cliques and players who would not even mix with each other, just "sitting in a corner on their own" when he arrived.
We have been dragged kicking and screaming into the real world. And it must be pointed out that when Sam arrived the job description was to get us out of this division. Nobody told him he had to try to play like Barcelona (or Swansea if you like). Nobody said he didnít have to bother about organisation, defending properly, learning effective set-pieces, fighting for the shirt and showing sheer bloody mindedness not to lose.
He introduced Nolan, his 'man in the dressing room' to forge the spirit and team ethos we all witnessed at Wembley. I donít recall anyone not cheering!
But all of that has come from just a year under Sam. Did anyone see any of that under the quite dreadful Grant, who is able to only win titles in one-team leagues like Israel and Serbia?
It has not always been pretty, if at all. Sam has made use of what he has. Weíve scored 89 goals this term spread around 19 players, and when the real pressure was on, we won our last five on the trot. As West Ham managers go, weíve seen nothing like this since maybe Billy Bonds and definitely John Lyall.
When Blackpool were playing their passing game and threatening to over-run us at Wembley, nobody in a claret and blue shirt jacked it in (are you listening Grant). They fought for their lives, anyway they could, and they fought for us.
Some Blackpool players have been poor losers (understandable I suppose). We are supposed to be a team of giants and the winner was a foul. Nonsense. Manchester City have got a clutch of brilliant littleíuns (Tevez, Silva, Aguero, Nasri) but by God they have some giants, too.
Nobody wins anything without big, physical, powerful players these days and the champions are the perfect example. And Iíve watched the winner from every Sky angle, and I still canít see the supposed foul or what Alex Baptiste is on about.
Now Sam and our owners know they must get things right from here on. Steady, careful building of our club to the point when we can be established in mid-table like West Brom, Fulham, Everton and Stoke have become.
Sam will obviously be judged on his summer of transfer activity, and I doubt next season will be any prettier than this one. Samís Bolton stayed up and found their feet with a ferocious, high intensity style pushing the laws to the limits.
I didnít like a lot of it, and saw too much to be fair for my liking. Sam upset the purists like Benitez, Houllier and Wenger. But he didnít care. He was doing the job heíd been asked to do. And that is how it has been at the Boleyn.
We are going to get a new stadium whether we like it or not, that is part of the master plan. We are going to get more of the same from Sam, and I refuse to accept that what I have watched this season is all about long ball, and I have witnessed 34 of our games this term.
But I am tempted to believe things will be different this time around, without Terry Brown, without the financial incompetence of daft Icelandic owners and poorly appointed managers.
And our great fans deserve better. If nothing else on Saturday, we all reminded everyone that we are a big, big club. Over 50,000 of our lot were there, Blackpool could not even sell 30,000 of their allocation.
I think it was the biggest congregation of West Ham fans in one stadium since the 1965 European Cup Winners Cup final - 47 years ago to the day when 80,000 of us were there on the greatest of all nights at the old Wembley.
The mass pilgrimage on Saturday to see the Bobby Moore statue at the end by many thousands of Irons was a fitting conclusion to a memorable day for our fans.
The Football League admit we could have sold 60,000 tickets, but I doubt they would really have wanted that sort of imbalance of fans. And segregation is a real problem and not just about the seating. Regulations say it has to also involve the bars, lifts, concourse and stairways - not an easy task at a place like Wembley, who are used to a big buffer of centrally located uncommitted ticket holders to make their job easier.
Still it was truly a wonderful day, to be part of that huge family. The noise and singing was deafening. We were as one, and itís something I will never forget because as David Gold pointed out, the day gave us our pride back after the recent years of shambolic ownership, court hearings, tribunals and fines.
One thing only soured it for me, and that was the treatment of Thomas Ince, just because of who his dad is.
For a moment or two after he scored, and during his outstanding performance before George McCartney got a grip, I could see the Ince family revenge robbing us of £90m, promotion and maybe even our future as a club. Young Ince was defiant, as you would expect any son to be for his dad.
Whatever the reasons, surely itís time for us to move on and be bigger than this. Because Paul Ince was not as much to blame for what happened way back then, as some others. I know, because I know the people involved and the real story.
I will now bore you all with it. Iíve known Ince senior for a while now, professionally, when he was at Liverpool, Manchester United and boss at Blackburn and Macclesfield. He has always wished the incident never happened.
But back then he was a very young, immature lad facing his first big transfer and being advised by people who should have known better. If he was guilty of anything, it was trying to help out a friend of his agent.
That pal was a top photographer with a paper owner by the company I once worked for. The other perpetrator was a journalist, a good friend of mine. Thankfully I was nowhere near the incident!
The transfer to Manchester United was a done deal, a fact accepted by everyone in the game and the media. The snapper involved had been right on top of the story for a while but was about to go on holiday and didnít want to miss a scoop picture.
So he persuaded InceĎs advisors to allow the boy to pose in that infamous Man U shirt for a picture that would never be used before the deal was done.
Now I believe Ince was not that keen, but allowed himself to be persuaded. Donít forget he was still a kid and wanted to go along with the favour.
The picture was taken and filed back at the newspaper concerned in the picture library (long before computers). But somewhere along the line, the embargo instruction went missing and was not on the back of the picture.
The story dragged on, the snapper went on holiday and then one night an updated story arrived from the paperís Manchester office - an attempt by someone to scoop the London lads who had been following the story (there was even rivalry in those days between various offices on the same paper).
The story arrived, the picture file was requested by what was a stand-in sub-editor that night, and there was this picture of Ince in a Man U shirt. The alarm bells should have been ringing, but the said sub-editor decided to use it. And all hell has broken lose ever since.
Ince was horrified, as were Manchester United and West Ham. Ince should never have posed for the picture, but the real blame lays elsewhere amongst agents, advisors and smart-alec journalists. Yes, Iíve called my friend that to his face.
But what ever happened was back then, son Thomas does not deserve the treatment he got at Wembley. It does the name of our fans no good. We should all move on, we are bigger than this.
And as a club I believe strongly that we will be bigger in the future. The platform is there, the amount of money available even greater and the Premier League will soon have a new, greatly enhanced, TV contract to come into force.
So well done Sam and the team. You gave us a magical day and we are deservedly back in the top flight. Donít forget we finished 11 points clear of Blackpool and have now beaten them four times on the trot. Nothing was more deserved than our promotion.
This summer is going to be sweet. Much better than last summer which was a miserable disaster with our team and club at an all-time low. I believe Sam will not allow that to happen again. COYI.
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.
02:20PM 26th May 2012
''Agree that Sam brings a professionalism and psychological strength never before seen at our club. It should be remembered that in his last years at Bolton they were a decent team to look at. Nothing wrong with being good at set pieces and working good crossing positions provided its done with some precision and an ability to keep possession, which Sam achieved. Blackburn and Newcastle also showed signs of this before Sam got the boot.
Often the best managers are the slow burners. A club like ours needs to have a manager who brings something extra and is good in the transfer market. If we can stay up this season and put up with the ugly for a while, then some success could be on the way for the rest of the decade.
Must take issue with the following: "when the real pressure was on, we won our last five on the trot. As West Ham managers go, weíve seen nothing like this since maybe Billy Bonds and definitely John Lyall." Baffled by the hostility to Curbishly. He achieved the greatest escape in PL history and he did it playing quality football - showing extraordinary commitment to his footballing principles despite a horrendous first half of the season. The followng season we finished in the Top 10.
The criticisms? Transfer policy? He did what any manager would do and spent when money was offered. He was under the impression there was plenty more cash available. Many managers at big clubs have a few expensive mistakes, especially when big things are expected in a hurry. Had he been given a stable boardroom environment and a budget at least commensurate with the club's size, I've no doubt we would have been a top 10 PL team for the past few seasons. Though I admit, I'm not sure he would have knocked the flakiness out of us and could have led to a stagnation (like Pulis and Moyes, which would have been alright by me).
Sam certainly has an edge about him, so we must all be patient with him. But lay off Curbs who plays the West Ham way we all love. He will be back to haunt us to some day and may yet be a big-club manager.''
by Andy Walby
08:01AM 25th May 2012
''Excellent article, agree with all of it. These are the views of a true Hammers fan.
The Press prefer to send out the message that Sam is negative and not liked for his style and not playing the West Ham way etc., but there is no doubt he has been good for West Ham and the negative image of him is way off the mark. When was the last time we could have realistically expected to win virtually every game away from home in a season? Amazing.
We have to keep our feet on the ground, but you get the feeling that next season is going to be good with the current owners and management team - long may they remain so commited to the cause. COYI.''
by Dirk Doornbos
04:01PM 24th May 2012
''Enjoyed the read and totally agree about Paul Ince, after all, anyone who hasn't done something daft or listened to the wrong advice or misjudged a favour has more than likely not lived at all, let bygones be bygones and move on. His lad looks to have a bright future in the game and I'm sure Ince senior will try and more than likely succeed in his management career.
I think we've had far worse things happen over recent years, Avram, Neil, Fat Benni and our awful gutless supposed skipper Upson and we've moved on from that. A new era of West Ham heroes are hopefully round the corner and after nearly 40 years of West Ham I'd love to see us retain the feel good factor of last weekend and have as much positivity at home and on the various West Ham websites and blogs as our brilliant away support always manage to raise.''
11:21AM 24th May 2012
''Maybe this is stretching it a bit far but:
I've watched Paul Ince quite a bit lately on the ITV panel - as a professional football (and leader on the pitch) I suppose he is required to puff out his chest and seem uber-confident.
However, when I've listened to him on T.V. it seems quite the opposite - that he lacks a bit of confidence when speaking. One thing you can't deny though is that as a player (successful) and coach/manager (mixed bag) he has always been a grafter and wears his heart on his sleeve (a West Ham trait?). The 'grafter' side of things seems to be widely acknowledged as the the big change in the club so he fits in with the direction the club is going in. I noticed it on day one (losing 1-0 to Cardiff). Disappointing, rusty, no cohesion - but you couldn't say the players didn't fight "for each other".
Ince's Experience: West Ham, Man U, Inter Milan, Liverpool, Boro, Wolves - 53 caps for England. What a waste for someone with this so much experience to be sitting outside of the game.
Last time I heard he was living South-East London/Kent Borders. Mr. Gold can pick him up, bring him to Upton Park in his bullet-proof Rolls-Royce, Paul can say "sorry chaps but I've always loved this club - you sure gave me a hard time every time I came back. Ha ha, laugh ha ha" - BFS can announce him as a new addition to his coaching staff - Mr Ince gets to develop his career and learn more of the managerial side at a much bigger club - West Ham can potentially bring on an attract more young midfielders to the club. And some of the fans can finally give their over-worked blood vessels a rest. HAPPY DAYS!
Not likely to happen but we would be perceived by others (most importantly the people we need to manage, coach and play) as a much better (friendlier) club for it.
Intimidating Atmosphere, YES - Nasty Vile Atmosphere, NO. Alternatively, we could just go out and buy Thomas Ince.''
09:53AM 24th May 2012
''Agree entirely with the sentiments of the article. It did us no credit to barack Tom Ince; parents can be held responsible for the behaviour of their children but you can't blame children for what their parents have done, and I didn't care much for the 'Your support is..." chants. Enough said, let's not dwell on the negatives though.
It was a great day. We have got out of jail at the first time of asking and I believe there truly is something different happening arround the place. Miss Matthew Upson, anyone? Swap him for Nolan? Me neither. Things have been bad, for years... very bad but to use a 'Return of The Man Called Horse' metaphor, perhaps we had to go through the pain of the past years (and and in my opinion the rot set in with the sale of Rio), the squandered talent, lost generation of players, the sun ceramony of The Championship, in order to regain our soul.
Maybe a bit of humility on our part was needed before the pride could be regained? I don't know. But I had a bet with my son when Sam Allardyce was appointed. Part was that he would get us promoted at the first time of asking; part two is that we beat Liverpool away in his first seaon in The Premiership. One down, one to go. As fans, let's be men and let's show some sportsmanship... even as far as Big Fat Frank!''
by Keith Holland
08:05PM 23rd May 2012
''A good article with sentiments many of us share; two very minor corrections:
it is Alan "all FOUR of me ex teams promoted" - Reading, WHU, Charlton, S'ton.
Terry Brown is still a shareholder and 'Hon' President. I suppose as the years pass, his vilification will go the same way as that of Paul Ince.''
by steve lewin
08:05PM 23rd May 2012
''what a fantastic summing up of what we are about and where we should be. The Davids, Sam, and Nolan have all put us back on the map. This summer will not only be better than last year, I feel it will be better than the last 10 years. COYI.''
by Tell it how it is Charlie!
08:00PM 23rd May 2012
''Yes, I agree, itīs time to forget some thing that happened 23 years ago. Probably 95 per cent donīt really understand, they just know they have to boo. Stupidity booing Inceīs son. I think by the sounds of things Ince would make a decent acquisition for West Ham.
Probably Ince signalled deep down the hatred felt for Manchester United generally in the late '80s.''
by Robin Essex
07:24PM 23rd May 2012
''Another great piece. However with Mr Ince, if he came out with an apology I would expect it would not be a big deal today, but journos are journos and would never let the truth get in the way of a good story! Just like Reo-Coker coming back to West Ham after 'leaving' Bolton, that would be a backward step! Trust in Sam, he will deliver.''
by Rod "Yankeerev" Phillips
06:20PM 23rd May 2012
''I have been watching the highlights over and over again just to assure my heart that it is true! And I agree with your assessment, Sam did what he was asked to do. It may not always be pretty, but you can't say he hasn't been efficient. He has certainly motivated the players to be a team.
It is sad to see any player go, but I think that the turnover that will take place this summer will be effective. The beautiful flowing game that West Ham are known for will come again, but it will take time.
I live in the USA and when I tell people about West Ham United I simply have to rattle off players names who have played and their eyes light up: Joe Cole, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Jermaine Defoe, Robert Green, Calamity James, etc... We have certainly had a legacy and it was not too long ago when our beloved hammers played the beautiful game so well that they couldn't score a goal.
Do you remember the agony of Paolo Wanchope and Frederick Kanoute... I loved them as players, but it was so frustrating... We need both and a direct approach at least gets you in the thick of things to build upon...IMHO.
Here is looking forward to our top 10 finish next year...''
05:04PM 23rd May 2012
''Good article and I agree with every single view expressed. In order to play attractive football, you first have to learn how to defend, how to win the ball back when you lose possession and to work for all the members of the team. In addition you have to play to the strength of the playing staff available to the club.
Inflated expectations lead to inflated egos and, in turn, to startling and consistent failures. I can never recall a previous season in which I had so much confidence in our away form. The booing of Thomas Ince was appalling. In addition to learning basic courtesies - when will the thicker elements of our supporters ever learn that booing almost certainly achieves the reverse of its intended effect?''
by Paul Scott
04:58PM 23rd May 2012
''Regarding the Judas one: he has never said sorry.''
04:32PM 23rd May 2012
''Superb article. Nice one.''
by Old Jack
04:25PM 23rd May 2012
''Cant help saying I was right. Remember the moans earlier about Big Sam? And the critics of Captain Nolan?
Well now we have seen what is needed to get the results to take us back to the Premier League, at the first attempt. No doubt the moaners will soon be suggesting that it will be all long ball stuff next Season, and the calls for Paulo will return, from some. I would only say 'be careful what you wish for'. Sam will not allow the Hammers to be a pushover, by playing pretty football and being a pushover for too many of the opposing teams. We now have a manager who will be sought after, by many clubs.
I am looking forward to next season and believe Sam will guide us to a respectable league position. COYI.''
04:17PM 23rd May 2012
''Spot on! Great article. Big Sam's record speaks for itself. Personally I think we should be grateful to have a Premier League manager at a time when we were not a Premier League club.
I'm sure everyone will echo that Saturday was an unbelievable experience that I'm still buzzing from the whole occasion, and will never forget from the rest of my life. As said, he was bought in primarily to get us out of that division... Mission accomplished!
I truly believe this time we will get bigger and better. Thank you big man! Thank you Mr Chairmen that backed him brilliantly. COYI.''
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