Filed: Monday, 9th January 2017
By: Paul Walker
For heavenís sake, letís have some quiet out there. Silence from the corridors of power, or Sullivan towers, take your choice.
If West Hamís board are supportive of our manager as Ken Dyer in the Standard says, and he should know with his track record at the club, then they have a funny way of showing it.
My old fella used to say, "if you havenít got anything worth saying, then keep your mouth shut". I wish he was still around to make that point to the Davids and Karren.
Nobody can claim that our manager is not in a hole at the moment. Just 11 wins in the last 30 matches, says all you want to know. We all know the business, keep that record up and he is history.
But in the wake of the FA Cup disaster against Manchester City, more the manner of the defeat than anything else, it did not help one bit for David Sullivan to launch into a "we donít understand what is going wrong" tirade, and then for Karren Brady to say something very similar.
And why wasnít the manager able to reproduce last seasonís performances with "virtually the same players"? No pressure there then.
And of course they reckon that defeats against Sam Allardyceís Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough in our next two games would see the end of the Croatian. Frankly, my dog could have worked that one out.
Slaven Bilic has been under pressure for weeks, itís the nature of the job, from the media and from a sizeable section of our exasperated fan base. What he didnít need was much of the same from his bosses. It gave the media the obvious "two games to save your job" headlines.
Their intervention just made the situation worse. Were we going to sack a manager halfway through the transfer window? Mind-blowingly stupid that. Or were we going to wait until the end of January and then axe him?
What sort of message does that give to prospective new players? Or even the ones we already have and fancy a way out, maybe back to the sun in the South of France? Yes, Dimitri Payet, who would probably have to take a 50 per cent cut in wages to return to Marseille. I think not.
Our board have no track record in keeping quiet. They always seem to be shifting the blame elsewhere in times of stress, or trying to ingratiate themselves with the fans. Best of luck with that one in the current climate!
And Sullivan in transfer windows has a dreadful record for foot in mouth stuff. Remember the almost actionable Charlie Austin slur, or the daft claims about Andre Ayewís wage demands. Answers on a postcard for just how much he has finally cost us.
The major complaint from fans about the owners, and there are plenty, is that they cannot keep their mouths shut. You would have hoped that with a new director of communications, a bright young press officer from Bournemouth (bet he wished he was still on the south coast) and plenty of advice about mouth shutting, that the penny would have dropped. SHUT UP. Very simple, isnít it?
Let matters unfold if you are not happy with the manager, donít make life worse for him, unless of course this is all a not so subtle ploy to isolate the man and set him up for the bullet. Many felt they would try that during the five-game haul at the end of last year against the very best clubs in the country.
He got through that, so now the same sort of thing looks like it is happening for real this time.
And what is worse is that tame bloggers and sites who have the chairmanís ear are doing their dirty work for them. Making all-too-obvious pops at Slav, Tony Henry, the fitness coach, Milijenko Rak etc. Thatís not news gathering, itís massaging a situation from within the corridors of power to make something happen. To put too much pressure on the current regime.
That comes all too easily from outside without people ITK helping to twist the screw from inside, if you get the point. There is a fine line between reporting and comment. This piece here is comment, look elsewhere on the site for news, donít mix the two..Even less while using un-attributed quotes and Ďsources claim". Sounds more like Sky all the time.
And all this when the board seemed to have embarked on a charm offensive. Sullivanís remarks about talking to the fans, Bradyís decision to take on twitter and answer fans' questions, along seemingly with the usual abuse. Which she claims she is thick-skinned enough to cope with. Few would argue with that one.
Which brings me to the point of all this. I know, it has taken some time, I hear you say! Thereís been little to enthuse about with regard to the Irons for months, but the formation of a new West Ham United Independent Supportersí Association is one of them.
You have to be brave to take on something like this, as many who have tried in the past will vouch for, You have to handle everything, all the one syllable, one brain cell nutters, all the people with good intentions who stray off message when clear sensible thought is needed, and everyone, everywhere who wants a piece of you 24 hours a day. And itís all voluntary.
WHUISA is very new, they are only just open for membership and looked to have acquired a few hundred in the first week. To be any sort of voice they need a few thousand.
But the clubís charm offensive seems to have stretched out to the new group. West Hamís one SLO (Support Liaison Officer) Jake Heath has asked if the Indi boys want to be part of the new SAB, a much-maligned group that has floundered in the past because it looked too much like a club stooge.
Now thereís reasons for and against that, but if they want a voice and one that is listened to, they surely must give it a crack.
A few of the lads I watch matches with have thrown themselves into this new venture, and I can only wish it genuine success. The club needs an organised, realistic, calm, co-ordinated, professional fan group like this. There is a lot that needs saying, but in the right way and tone. Shouting and being abusive wonít help, and I know they know this.
I had some experience of the formation of similar groups íup northí during my working years; Spirit of Shankly at Liverpool and the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association. The latter in particular, which became famous for taking on the formidable ownership at Old Trafford.
In my previous life, I was able--purely professionally, it was Man Utd for heavens sake--to give them some early publicity. They never really got what they wanted and ended up moving on to form the FC United of Manchester non-league club, now in the National League. But they made a massive impact.
It was a tough ask, and they had some very serious, cunning opposition from within Old Trafford, Alex Ferguson would never have anything to do with them eventually. But they had a genuine force and some clever, sound advice from PR professionals.
We must have some of those amongst our support who could help our boys.
So if our lads need any advice, they should get in touch with some of the veterans of IMUSAís halcyon days, Andy Walsh if my memory serves me. The same with the Liverpool lads, who managed to stop the current ownership upping season ticket prices at a stroke.
What happens in the future there with prices and their new stand remains to be seen, but everyone walking out in the same minute from a match was very obvious on cross-Atlantic TV, where the owners were watching.
So go for it folks, be careful, polite, realistic and eloquent. This voice is better than being ignored. I can only encourage everyone to join this group, give them substance and the club something to think about. Good luck.
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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