Divided we stand

So here we are. Top of the league (well, for a few hours, at least). In pole position, having defeated a billion pound rag, tag and bobtail outfit, and then a team we struggle against for no real reason.

All this with less possession than a stop and search in Trumpton.

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Obviously it’s early days, but there’s signs of real positives. James Ward-Prowse offering a mix of attributes that added together leave you reassured, Edson Alvarez looking every inch the kind of defensive midfielder we’ve been chasing for a decade. Two new pieces of the jigsaw who look like they immediately fit, rather than being shoehorned into areas they shouldn’t.

The doom and gloom of what initially appeared to be a frustrating and fruitless transfer window and a less than poor pre-season seems to be clearing.

It’s fair to say that David Moyes is not Mr. Popular still at West Ham. Despite the delivery of our first major trophy in 43 years, an unprecedented three consecutive years of European football and a couple of top seven finishes, the style and tactical approach his teams take have still divided the support.

I confess to be one of the elements who remain wholly unconvinced by the boss. Not because I’m unappreciative of the job he has done or the manner he has done it, but by the seemingly one-dimensional, over-reliance on a core tactic, a seeming reluctance and inability to adapt. Will it be enough to evolve us into what we truly desire?

But I’m also big enough and honest enough to hold my hands up and admit if I’ve got my observations and fears wrong. A trait that a many have lost in the social media era.

We live in strange times, exacerbated in untold volumes when it comes to football. The Sky era has led to a "success is everything" mentality. As more and more get indoctrinated into this mantra, they feed into the sensationalism, sometimes unwittingly.

The age of social media has created an echo chamber where those who shout loudest get heard most and the cult of personality is king, whereas it should be the true voices of reason that are.

I get where some people aren’t happy, truly I do. We’ve been brought up on the free-flowing majesty of Brooking, Devonshire, Di Canio et al. We’re West Ham. We play on the deck. We entertain. We win the hearts and minds of many. We’re one of a kind, a tight knit unit, a family.

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The somewhat pragmatic approach of Moyes has led to a split. The likes of which not seen since the closing stages of the Allardyce era. When he was first reappointed, I can barely recall a soul who was happy. But the fallout of the Pellegrini experiment called for securing our top flight status, stability and a more pragmatic approach.

Moyes has since moulded and shaped a team that can both entertain and frustrate in equal measures. We developed into a side ruthless from set pieces. A team that on the counter can be at times devastating. We’ve upset the rotten fruit at the upper ends of the premier league tree on a regular basis.

This despite the thinly-veiled annoyance of the Premier Leagues match officials. Working under the stewardship of a chairman who is notoriously difficult. Working within the constraints and heavily-distorted Premier League structure where the rich get richer and more bloated whilst any attempts to break the financial status quo is viewed as an affront.

Last season's reality laid the foundations for many of the derogatory views. Amidst a huge transition of squad members, key players battling with form and fitness was understandably a cause of concern. Yet we still managed to get the job done when the chips were down. It’s fed the negativity that is the crux of this piece. Yet that as I write the fickle nature of football has resulted in us being massive once more, against the odds.

But the strides forward we’ve made have not always been met with a sense of proportional realism. Countless times we’ve seen patterns. In a bid for transfers, sign someone, sign someone, oh but not him. In terms of success win something, win something, oh but not like that. It’s not a simple game anymore in terms of meeting targets and satisfying fan desire.

What we’ve achieved under Moyes' stewardship is something to be applauded, not criticised. It may not be getting achieved in the style of yesteryear, but things are getting done. There is progress being made. We are indeed building a unit capable of playing in a more than one-dimensional state.

Paqueta is the shining example. If he is attracting the attention of Guardiola, then that’s an endorsement in itself. With the impending arrival of the mercurial talents of Mohammed Kudus, we could see a further spark and potential of evolution.

In an increasingly skewed footballing world, that West Ham have achieved what they have is nothing short of a miracle. We have the core of a very talented squad. We’re looking to augment that. We just need the internal politics of the fanbase to be more stable and create a little more joy off the field. Let’s celebrate our progress as a club, not our differences of opinion.

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