Polls apart

It’s going to be the year of the polls, we are all braced for it. It’s going to be nasty, bitter, abusive and divisive. And that’s only the West Ham ones.

You can’t have missed them this week. Days of online polls debating David Moyes' future and whether you are all going to chuck in your season tickets.

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Now I have no issues with polls, they are all over twitter/X all the time, mostly politically motivated and you can ignore them at your leisure. West Ham’s are no different. They should be viewed as a bit of fun to fill the week on social media when there’s no matches to get enraged about.

But when you have 60,000 fans going to matches, an east London/Essex fan base of 500,000 (club figures that from a few years back) plus the many millions of our fans nation and worldwide, to start manipulating the findings when only a few thousand fans vote is a bit naughty.

I mean, 57 per cent of 4,000 saying they’ll not renew their season ticket equates to about 2,000. And I bet not one of them is a regular away fan who have painstakingly built up their points to buy tickets. Give up your season ticket and you are giving up a way of life, the chance of a cup final ticket (I know,I know) and any chance of a boozy Euro’ trip.

And as for the shouty guy on his YouTube subscription channel, even if it’s an 80/20% split, let’s not try to make more of that than a bit of fun. If you subscribe to a channel that gives you wall to wall screaming anti-Moyes stuff, hourly if not daily, you are probable going to have the same views as the shouty one.

So when that channel does a poll, guess what the majority answers will be. I’ll wait. But it sure isn’t going to be in Moyes’ favour.

Nobody, surely, who dares to be “Moyes In” is going to pay to be abused online and told you are ‘not West Ham ‘ and not worth talking to because you are a fringe, loony cult. You get my point. Predictably, though, these figures have been used to further berate Moyes, to try to influence David Sullivan (he is the board, so let’s stop giving the impression that anyone else has a say–so on this).

And this is where my patience wears thin. Everyone has a right to an opinion, to shout it online, that’s democracy. I’m tempted to explain this to the hard of hearing, but I’ll contain myself.

But what we are seeing is bullying by the clarets, the bullshitters and the boozers. And I am squeamish about that. On and on, day after day, stigmatising anyone with a differing view as a minority, out of touch and obviously not going to matches.

And, risking it now, I don’t think I’m in a minority. The amount of folk I hear from who are fed up with the anti-Moyes vitriol is bigger than the haters think.

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But we’ll never really know, will we? What we do have is a clearly coordinated relentless campaign by a few social media outlets and YouTube channels, all with clicks needed and travel to their sites to boost their income.

The same stuff appears on them all, cross pollination if you like. And then after a week of this stuff, from nowhere comes unattributed quotes suggesting Moyes will walk soon. And that’s Sullivan’s problem.

In any other walk of life or industry, the job Moyes has done to reboot this club and slowly improve the playing staff while maintaining a competitive top half of the Premier League would be more than enough for a new contract.

As I’ve said before, outside of the West Ham bubble and inside the professional game, there’s incredulity that Moyes will not get a new deal. Be it a one-year rolling contract or something longer, is the debate.

Sullivan’s quandary will not be solved by listening to the polls and social media. He will know that Moyes has given the club stability and a trophy. We are now ranked 24th in Europe and when the Scot arrived we were 120-something.

Sullivan will also see £10m of UEFA prize money and 16 extra home European matches - West Ham take around £1.2m in revenue from matches. So that works out as £30m extra into the coffers from Europe alone in three seasons.

And generally Moyes’ stats are good in relation to any previous West Ham manager. Some sensible analysis by Jack Elderton of this parish, underline this. More goals per match average and points generally, better finishing position average, basically scoring more and winning more.

It makes him our best manager in the Premier League era and our best overall - and there is more than one other analysis that champions that view. But when stats always seem to win the argument, the ‘outers’ always return to an ideological argument. They just don’t like the style.

So with his businessman’s hat on, with the finances doing OK and 60,000 plus gates, is Sullivan going to make a decision based on style over accepted professional qualities? It’s an argument that is impossible to win or lose from social media, but Sullivan will have to gamble or stick with that he knows works.

63% of 16,813 voters in a recent BBC poll "strongly agree" Moyes is "the right manager" for West Ham

None of this helps the pollsters though. There have been a few sensible analysises in recent weeks, plus an excellent article in the Telegraph by Jonathan Northcroff, who has known and worked with Moyes for over 20 years. It looked in depth at Moyes' business model, style of play and career. None of this was lifted by the ‘Moyes out’ sites because it clearly conflicted with their agendas.

Also HeadHammerShark, also of this parish, produced one of those incisive assessments of the whole scenario, asking whether Moyes - or anyone - can do any better than the current position, with the vast wealth of the bigger clubs to contend with. I would recommend you take a good look at HHS’s H-List site.

Again, I don’t expect the shouty ‘outers’ to bother. It's much easier to fire off emails to the board demanding no contract is offered because the fans don’t want it. Too much use of the word “We” in that. As with the YouTube guy, some folk believe they represent us all.

All this has overshadowed the now expected defeat at Manchester United, where the canal barge from Castlefields to Old Trafford is still the highlight of the day by us locals who know where to find Northern Soul and plenty of beer. Plus a giant poodle puppy on board (I will explain all that to anyone who cares to get in contact. Back at Piccadilly station 20 minutes after the final whistle. Can’t be bad.)

And we were not that bad on the pitch either. To lose 3-0 after having the second most shots at Old Trafford for a visiting side in ten years suggests we gave it a go, 50-50 possession and a freak deflection having a major say in the result. There was a Plan B there for anyone prepared to pay attention.

Jarrod Bowen scores, Emerson scores, the increasingly excellent Ben Johnson scores and we get a penalty when Casemiro hauls Edson Alvarez down by his throat and we may have got something. Don’t get me started on rubbish refereeing when we are up against the elite.

All this overshadowed the fallout from a terrible transfer window, where we seemed to revert to the bad old days when Sullivan overruled the professionals, with help it is alleged from his agent mate.

One question. Would Moyes have sanctioned the departures of Pablo Fornals, Said Benrahma and Thilo Kehrer if he had not been reasonably assured that replacements would be signed? Or was it yet another wage-cutting window?

So, on we go to a third meeting with Arsenal, who have just beaten Liverpool and are going for the title. I'm not convinced even the most optimistic will believe we can beat them three times in a season. If we don’t, it will no doubt all be Moyes’ fault - and the polls will be up and running again.

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