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Where are they now?

Filed: Tuesday, 28th October 2014
By: Raedwulf

Not, as some of you may have been expecting, a retrospective on past players. Sorry. This particular piece is provoked by the question so much asked in the last week or so - "Where are the 'Sam Out' Brigade?"

Mr Mary Poppins, Alan Shearer, had a sly, snide dig at us on Match of the Day 19/10. The blonde {insert your epithet of choice} that is Robbie Savage asked the same question on Friday. Surprisingly, it was actually a measured and well considered piece. And then, of course, there has been comment on dear old KUMB. Some of it very rude. Hardly a surprise (this is the Internet after all, "Here be Trolls"), but when a random bunch of pixels is abusing the estimable Mr Walker, you know something's wrong.

I don't always agree with Paul, far from it, but he do write very well (as Sam Weller might have said). I am sure that many readers will feel moved to disagree with things I write here. But "Rubbish article full of missimformation and tripe" (sic)? That's never been true of any Paul Walker opinion piece I've ever read. I hope it won't be true of anything of mine that The Editor ever decides is worth posting.

Disagree by all means; everyone has an opinion, especially where sport is concerned! But it is surely better to get your point across, than to be dismissed because of the way that you phrase said disagreement?

TangentsRUs. I diverge somewhat. I was one of the "Sam Out" brigade last season. I never have been a fan. I never had any qualms about sticking my head above the metaphorical parapet either; I have no more now. I am, perhaps, typical of of the SOB's. I did not like what I saw last season, but this season is different. Is it any wonder, then, that I do not sing the Sam *cough* same tune?

I will now re-state what I have said before, several times here. I think that Allardyce is an excellent manager. However, I have never thought that he was the right manager for our club. I may have to recant, but more on that in a bit.

He is not, as many people would have it, simply a long ball merchant, and he never was. He has in the past, though, been very one-dimensional. I have criticised him time and again on KUMB for that since he took over, for having no Plan B, for being very square (across the back, up the flanks, hit the big man; nothing through the middle).

Above all else, he has no reputation whatsoever for bringing through youth. What is West Ham built on? The Academy. Or so one argument can be made. We have never been able to compete on finance. Now that FFP is (allegedly) in place, we never will be able to. Even a full Olympic Stadium will be relatively small fry compared to several other English stadiums.

No, it's not all about bums on seats and gate receipts, but match day income remains a significant economic factor and, without a few trophies or a decade of Champions League football... Youth, still, is a vital source of talent. But Sam has no record whatsoever of bringing through youth. A record, it must be noted, he is currently maintaining.

Before this season started, there were very many good reasons for being dissatisfied with the Allardyce reign. Suddenly there aren't. Well, one still, but... And, like toadstools after a storm, pro-Sam commentators, pro-Nolan commentators suddenly sprout.

You want to know where the SOB's are? Where were you lot on 2 January 2014? Where were you when Nolan had picked up his second stupid, pointless, damaging red card against Fulham? I'm seeing a few "I always said...", but sorry chaps, I wasn't seeing those remarks on the News articles here at the start of the year. Practically nobody then was speaking in his defence, nor in his manager's defence. The SOB's held sway.

Nolan was an an idiot, Sam was a one-dimensional twerp with no Plan B, and absolutely no-one was defending either of them. Actually, that's not quite true. There were one or two speaking up. I was one of them. I was still saying that I don't want Nolan at the club (I still don't), that I never thought Allardyce was a good choice for our manager (jury currently out; I'm coming to that), but I still thought he would keep us up... And he did!

The other thing I've always said about Sam is the four season cycle. I know very well what the David's had in mind when they appointed him. Let's not get rose-tinted about them either. They sacked Zola (for better or worse), and appointed Grant who, despite being a thoroughly decent man, looked like a rabbit in the headlights towards the end and got us relegated. They sacked him and appointed Sam.

I've no love for the Davids. They might, or might not, be West Ham fans. They are, they absolutely are, businessmen. Along with many, I believe they bought into the club (under terms they manoeuvred to their advantage) because they saw the potential and the profit in engineering a move to the Olympic Stadium. For better or for worse, that's a path we're now committed to.

But whatever you think, they were no altruists when they owned Birmingham. There were plenty of Brummies warning us what it would be like with them as owners around the time. Nor, in my opinion, they have shown anything different as owners of West Ham. They remain hard-headed businessmen. Not necessarily a criticism, not necessarily a bad thing, I acknowledge.

Their motivation for appointing Sam was "get us up, keep us up". That, no quibbles whatsoever, is a brief that no-one is better suited to fill, and Sam has done just that. That four season cycle? Two seasons of mid-table mediocrity, one each of flirting with relegation or Europe. Our first season back up was happy mid-table obscurity, last year the relegation wibbles; this year, to much surprise, Europe. Maybe. We all dream don't we?!

And so we are back to the SOBs. No one is screaming "Sam Out" any more, are they? Why is that?

I am loathe to claim to speak for anyone other than myself. For most of us, though; even myself with my expressed and admitted reservations about Sam; I think it was never about Sam. It was always about how we played. It's easy to attack Sam, even easier than it is to defend him. Both metaphorically and literally, he is an inviting target!

His personality can be divisive and confrontational, vis a few remarks and the cupping of the ear of last season. Or, even, smiling and laughing at the wrong moment! There are those that will never forgive him for any of that. Personally, I couldn't give a stuff.

I don't care how un-likeable he might or might not be if he's playing the now infamously 'mythical' West Ham Way and getting results. He might have been unwise to respond occasionally, but how many of you would have been so restrained? He was getting dog's abuse at times last season.

This season by contrast, so far, is wonderful. Everyone praises his signings. Last year? The budget went on Carroll and Downing, didn't it? Has he actually had any more money to spend this summer? I'm typing off the the top of my head at the moment; deliberately, I'm doing no research, so I'm more than happy to be corrected. But last summer, wasn't it 5m on Downing and 15m on Carroll?

This summer? 12m on Enner, Song and Jenks on loan... Mmmmm... Remind me, please, what did Cressie, Sakho, Zarate, Kouyate, Amalfitano cost? Have we actually, officially, spent any more money? It's always a bit difficult to be sure, because the Hammers have always tended to be rather coy about transfer fees, never mind the rather invisible costs of loans.

I thought Carroll was a good signing. The 35m price tag to Liverpool was neither justified nor Big Andy's fault. 15m, though? Yes, fit and on form (which, alas, he has rarely, barely, been for us so far), he is worth all of that. He may never justify the fee, but I do believe he has the ability, if fit, to do so.

5m for Downing? That I was less enthusiastic about, but he showed his quality long before last season ended. Now, of course, he is even better and the money has been, or at least is being, more than justified.

But most of our money on two signings, one of whom rarely played, turned out to be a mistake. Of the rest, Petric barely featured, Rat left before the season ended. Armero wasn't deemed worthy. Diarra, released after six league games in two years. To name but a few of the less successful Sam dealings since he has been in charge. His is not an unblemished transfer record, and it isn't necessarily money that seems to be the deciding factor.

This year, the only thing I've been a little unhappy about is the release of McCartney. Cressie has been brilliant so far. I realise it's only nine league games, but Staff #3 asked about player of the season last week, and practically everyone is a candidate so far. But O'Brien as the only senior back-up at left back?

Dan Potts never got a look in last year (one game each in FA and League cups; youth again...). So I've a small concern over what happens if Cresswell is out. Everyone else, though? The worst of them is "so far, so good", and the best of them... Who'd pick a signing of the year so far? I wouldn't like to.

Where is the real difference, though? I don't think it's in the budget; count the pennies, it's not very much different between '13 and '14, is it? The manager is certainly the same. Is it all down to the "orders from above"? Was it play more attacking football? More entertaining football? Sam denies either.

Who cares? The Sam Out Brigade are, by and large, where they have always been. Supporting our club. We're not Sam haters, we're West Ham fans (how many sins must we all have committed in past lives to deserve this!). All we ever wanted was to see our team playing our brand of football (no jokes about "rustling", please!).

That's what we're getting. Why on earth would we not be silent? We were, perhaps still are, Sam-wary. I'm not yet a convert. I've still that serious reservation about his lack of faith in youth. I also wonder what will happen if he loses a couple of important players for an extended period, or if we lose three, draw three, in six. Will he fall back on stifling football? I hope not to find out.

On what we've seen so far, I'm at about Chelsea 0 WHU 0 last year. In my first 'official' match report against Swansea (the game after), I wrote of Mattie Taylor "I've said more than once after recent games that, whilst I love his commitment and work-rate, he's not quite Premier League-quality. I may have to recant."

Of Sam, there can never have been any question of his Premier League quality; it's all been proven too often down the years. But whether he is the right man to lead West Ham into the glorious new future *sigh* (and who won't be sorry to leave Upton Park!) that is the Olympic Stadium? I'm not quite there yet. I reserve the right to revert.

But I'm certainly not chanting "Sam Out", even on the net (never did, never would, in person). I'm still here supporting our club. I may yet, quite cheerfully (and publicly), recant all the things I've ever said if he keeps up the current form. I suspect that the vast majority of the SOB's feel the same way. Whatever our results, and wherever we finally finish!

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.

Your Comments

by Mick
12:14PM 28th Jul 2009
''Nice to read a bit of positivity instead of all the doom and gloom merchants, well done!


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