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West Ham v Southampton

Filed: Monday, 2nd April 2018
By: Ten Thousand Miles From The Boleyn

I've lit the sandalwood candle, massaged Blue Tansy oil into my wrists while visualising a comfortable three-nothing victory... and as a precaution the Crisis Support Line is on speed dial. Come On You Irons.

Since the debacle that was the Burnley game I have heroically endured my own five stages of grief; fury, outrage, indignance, irritation and resentment... if I were a dish in a noncey restaurant I would have been describe as pissed off; five-ways. I subsequently tried to find something positive to lift my spirits and eventually settled on the fact that statistically, I will be dead within twenty five years.

-2 Minutes: Nothing nasty to say about Southampton at this point, like everyone else I've been “soooo impressed with their youth development program.” I obviously can't say the same about sour-puss Sparky, who looks like he’s posing for his Portrait-in Granite that may one day grace the side of the Welsh Mount Rushmore.

I live ten thousand miles from the Boleyn. So what do I know about anything?

I do know that reading West Ham-related blogs and watching fan group videos on YouTube has done nothing to lighten my mood lately. Instead of being entertained and informed as usual, I find myself applying a clammy death-grip to my iPad and coating the screen with spittle while shouting things like "You are talking out of your arse"! I know I shouldn't get annoyed by opinions that differ from my own; my only excuse being that I obviously know best.

Kick Off: After all the requests for the fans to get behind the team, the team had better give them something to get behind.

For instance, I disagree with the assertion that the blokes who ran on the pitch had no impact at all on the final result against Burnley or that Sullivan and the rest should stay away tonight. But amidst all that irritation I'd failed to consider just how many times politicians come out with comments I disagree with. So as soon as I read what the Mayor of London had to say about us I applied a clammy death-grip to my iPad and coated the screen with spittle and shouted "You are talking out of your arse!"

12 Minutes: Things were looking promising until Antonio went off… Hang on, nice break… get it over… No, not fucking Joao Mario… What a goal… What a player!

The importance of tonight’s game raises another conundrum; is David Moyes the right man for the job? Luckily for Mr Moyes, my ambition goes no further than for us to be permanently held in the warm embrace of mid-table mediocrity, with a decent showing in the domestic cups and an occasional flirtation with European qualification. That being the case, the answer is clear; Moysie is most certainly The Man!

15 Minutes: If Arnie had just scored I can’t imagine what Sparky’s expression would be right now, once your face looks like a smacked arse where is there to go?
16 Minutes: I’m just about to find out.

So how are my unlofty ambitions to be achieved? Just follow this simple recipe:
1. Identify the ten teams that are worse than you.
2. Beat them at home.
3. Draw with them away.
Anything more than this is simply icing on the delicious cake of low expectations.

35 Minutes: If Southgate is here to see how Hart performs he may have wasted a journey. The good news is Joe isn’t suffering from narcolepsy otherwise that long-range effort might have just reached the goal line.

So what attributes does Moyes need if he is going to be a success? It would appear that currently he should possess a non-English accent, trendy “I’m so cool I don’t need to concern myself with how my hair looks” hair and a bit of a straggly beard thing going on. While he has the accent sorted he’s badly let down by being clean shaven with a sensible and thoroughly old school 'do, both easily remedied with the assistance of a Jurgen Klopp's personal stylist.

Half Time: Joao Mario was brilliant and deserves his own song… Joao Mario da-da-da-da-doo-doo.

“But what about his relationships with the players?” I hear you ask. I've had the dubious pleasure of managing people over time and agree with the received wisdom that some respond better to an arm around the shoulder and a few encouraging words, while others require what the only management manual I ever read referred to as Sixteen Lace-Holes up the Jacksy! I did eventually develop my own preferred way of dealing with difficult characters who possess a grossly inflated sense of their own worth. I describe it as the “Give 'em Enough Rope Theory”, because as a renowned Sri Lankan philosopher once observed; "The higher the monkey climbs the tree, the more you can see his arse". I'm really not sure how this relates to working with Premier League players but I've left it there as a general tip when dealing with any member of Gens X, Y and probably Z.

65 Minutes: We’re three-nil up as I’d visualised before kick-off and I‘m starting to feel a bit odd. A strange feeling of euphoria… sort of happy? Probably overdid the Blue Tansy oil, and it is well past the best-before date.

But I'm also no dinosaur when it comes to more modern management thinking. When Guus Hiddink was hired to take the Australian team to the 2006 World Cup I was delighted to discover that early in his football career he'd earned extra cash supervising PE lessons for children with learning difficulties... And I defy anyone to come up with a better preparation than that for dealing with a squad of professional footballers. The reality is I have no reason to suspect that the players have lost faith in Moyes’ abilities; assuming of course that unlike plenty of fans they had a little to begin with.

78 Minutes: Hugill is on. I’d heard he isn’t that good and the way we are seeing out the game he won’t be getting much chance to shine.

What about transfers? The January window was seen as a disaster but at the time I wasn’t convinced we desperately needed any new signings, although that was before we shipped out players we could have subsequently done with. And while we've all heard plenty of speculation as to the process the club goes through to identify and sign new players, I don't know what really goes on behind the scenes. And anyone who has played FIFA in Manager Career Mode will attest to how hit and miss the process can be.

85 Minutes: Joao Mario has gone missing for most of this half, glad I didn’t invest too much time on his re-jigged version of The Lonely Goatherd. Although chants that involve yodelling haven’t been popular since the early sixties when a Frank Ifield hit was cleverly altered in praise of Eddie Bovington.

Several years ago I oversaw a start-up that was a joint venture between an advertising agency and a multi-media company... And yes, it was just as much a wank-fest as it sounds. But more importantly, I heard a quote from some famous American businessman who once claimed that "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” And I suspect that is true when it comes to buying players, although I personally would be fucking thrilled if we only wasted half.

91 Minutes: I’d like to see Hugill given another go… once we’re safe of course.

So, is Dave the man for the job? I don’t mind the boring hair, or the fact he shaves most days, although I concede that it sometimes appears as if his thinking is about ten minutes behind everyone else’s, which has resulted in the amusing and alliterative nickname; “Dithering Dave”. But a tendency to equivocate doesn’t mean you are a crap manager, just look at Ambivalent Arsene, and what about Wishy-Washy Woy. But the clincher for me was his reign at Everton, who if I were a character in Game of Thrones would affect a crap northern accent and describe them as West Ham in t’ North. During his time there I think he made some very good signings and brought pride, if not huge amounts of success back to the club. So if Moysie could just emulate those years I could go to my grave as a tolerably contented Hammer… Fucking sad or what?

Full Time: This was just like the Burnley game, except the first half chances that went begging then went in today, and the second half defending worked when last time we shipped three. Imagine… the last three weeks could have been so different.

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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