Filed: Monday, 22nd September 2003
By: Graeme Howlett
Hammers striker Jermain Defoe has been heavily criticised by supporters following his dismissal against Gillingham at the weekend.
Defoe, whose relationship with the clubs fans has been strained ever since he handed in a transfer request less than 24 hours after West Ham were relegated from the Premiership has been accused of behaving selfishly whilst showing an alarming lack of discipline and commitment following the incident, which occurred in the 80th minute at the Priestfield Stadium.
Defoe - who had already been booked earlier in the game - was shown a red card after firing a string of obscenities toward the referee's assistant, who had moments before awarded a free-kick against the precocious young striker who had been adjudged offside.
Whilst newspaper reports are again linking Defoe with a transfer window move to Manchester United, the general feeling from the Hammers fraternity would appear to be one of 'buck up your ideas or get out' - a far cry from last season when the young striker was roundly praised for his contribution to the team.
Critics have said that Defoe, instead of playing for the team appears to be playing solely for himself this season. The lack of unity between him and regular striker partner David Connolly - to whom Defoe rarely passes during a game - would seem to support this theory.
Northern Paul, talking on KUMB's forum is one of those deeply concerned with Defoe's contribution thus far this season:
"He's scored a few goals - but how many has he cost us? Only about half a dozen teams in the division have scored less than us," he said.
"At Rotherham I gave him the benefit of the doubt and thought his selfishness was due to him wanting the team to win - but I was mistaken. He's playing for himself and could cost us dearly at the end of season - but that won't matter to him because he'll be off anyway."
Whilst HH added:
"Defoe believes that he is a one man team and is costing us points. We've not even got into double figures yet in terms of goal scored.
"For somebody who it is claimed is vital to our promotion hopes, I find it laughable that he has only scored 3 league goals."
PhillyAmmer was pulling no punches either when he added:
"Defoe's attitude stinks, he's been totally unprofessional. His mind is on the Champions League not on his current position - and he doesn't give a damn about us.
"Then again, we should have seen that coming bearing in mind the way he left Charlton."
Quite clearly a strong feeling of resentment exists towards the England under-21, who in turn would appear to be resenting the fact that his much hoped for big summer move failed to materialise.
Something that has hurt Hammers fans most is that since handing in that request Defoe has failed to apologise for his actions (despite the club laughably attempting to blame his agent for the debacle).
It's quite clear that the £10m rated striker has some way to go if he is to win over Hammers hearts again - just as he had done last season.
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