Running into a red wall

It’s been coming for a while for West Ham fans, when frustrating reality hits the wall of unrealistic expectations.

There's nothing wrong with dreaming the dream, we’ve all done that this season, our best since heaven knows when. But surely it’s wrong to launch into anyone and everyone when, for a multitude of reasons, we've hit a brick wall.

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Ryan Fredericks was castigated for some wildly erratic defending just after coming on as substitute at Old Trafford on Saturday, while Issa Diop was shredded last weekend and suffered social media threats after his display against Leeds.

Meanwhile Jarrod Bowen missed a sitter against Leeds and was a target for some and now there’s the continued stick handed out to David Moyes and his newish head of recruitment, Rob Newman.

Everybody has a right to an opinion and those mentioned above are big enough and man enough to get over it. That’s what being in the Premier League is all about. To be honest, I’ve been as underwhelmed with Diop and Fredericks and Moyes' failure to throw on a couple of late substitutes against Manchester United to break up their flow and run down the clock, as anyone.

And of course there was the regular scapegoat of VAR and Marcus Rashford’s 93rd-minute winner. It was hard to feel any more gutted than me and the rest, high up in the away section at Old Trafford, felt. Over 3,000 broken hearts.

It wasn't helped by the fact that David de Gea clearly carried the ball out of play on the bye-line before the ball was moved forward in the build-up to Man United's winner. It was right in front of us and as clear as day, with a linesman not in line. Picky yes, but then you get like that!

Was Marcus Rashford's goal offside? There have been many still shots and plenty of opinion shared about various Edinson Cavani body parts that can or cannot score goals. But his head can, I’m sure I’ve seen that before, and my view is that of part of his head was offside.

I'm not going to dwell any more on that with the smart Alecs lining up to tell me I’m wrong. For what it is worth, Rio Ferdinand, once of this parish, thought it was onside and Gary Neville didn’t. Of course VAR official Mike Dean couldn’t possibly be wrong, a man once described as Alex Ferguson’s favourite official. Let’s leave it there.

Right, blind bias to one side. We will see this week whether Moyes’ sad-faced response to questions on transfers is to be taken seriously. He always keeps his cards close to his chest and whatever any of the social media know-it-alls say, not one of them will be spoken to Moyes.

He has a budget and there’s no question he and Newman have been working hard on the subject, but as various observers now confirm anyone who comes in up front or in central defence will be as back-up. Fees are ridiculously high and wages the sort that normally make David Sullivan weak at the knees.

My uneducated guess is that the best bets are Liverpool’s Nat Phillips - his dad Jimmy is a friend of Moyes’, for what it’s worth - and Blackburn striker Ben Brereton Diaz, that Stoke-born Chile international. But Rovers want promotion with his goals and it'll cost a fortune to get him away, upwards of £30m. He has no Premier League pedigree and 29 goals in 89 league matches for the Ewood Park club.

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And this is where reality kicks in. Competing against the very best in the Premier League sees us punching so far above our weight financially it’s embarrassing. Manchester United can send on Rashford, Cavani and Anthony Martial to win them matches. Their substitutes have scored more goals for them than those of any other top flight club.

We put on Fredericks ahead of Ben Johnson and opted not to throw Arthur Masuaku, Andriy Yarmolenko and Nikola Vlasic into the fray. Obviously by now Alex Kral doesn’t get considered. My point though is that we cannot begin to match the quality of Man United’s bench.

That is when reality hits. A recent survey of benches on a random weekend showed Chelsea’s was worth £226m, Manchester United’s £203m, Manchester City’s £175m, Liverpool’s £149m, Tottenham’s £140m and Arsenal’s £123m. And West Ham United's? £52m. That’s what we are up against.

Deep quality on the bench, players on massive money for just Saturday’s situation. Whatever your views on the Sullivan adminstration, this is a financial inequality we simply cannot cope with.

Moyes wants - he has no option, really - to have a lean, hungry, well-organised squad. One that that works its socks off. And up to a point, it works.

Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick admitted they went into the game believing it was a top of the table, must-win match. They see us as genuine rivals and told us last week that they would not do business with any club they see as a rival for the Champions League over Jesse Lingard.

It’s small consolation, but that at least shows we have come a long way under Moyes.

In the back of my mind there is still a nagging worry that Sullivan is interfering, offering Moyes players on a daily basis, players Moyes on principle won’t sign. Maybe though Lingard is not through just yet. He spent a long time in the pre-match warm up chatting to Declan Rice and Mark Noble in the centre circle; part of me wants to believe there was something in that.

But what is the budget, £30m, £40m, £50m, £60m? Is Daniel Kretinsky involved? If not, why not? We can all see a tired squad who have performed miracles. But, as with the defeat to Leeds, we are seeing a tired squad and that means in the back end of matches concentration goes, mistakes are made and the ability to see out matches goes west.

So now we shall see. Will Moyes manage to pull anything out of the hat to freshen up his squad to get the 60,000 amateur coaches off his back on social media?

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