It's just like watching Brazil...

Now that was a relief, wasn’t it? Much better but still obviously a way to go yet. Just like watching Brazil someone said. Well, two of them anyway, even if one now plays for Italy, but you get the idea.

After a mid-winter of serious strife on the pitch - and off it - that Brazil-inspired victory over bogey side Brentford was like a bolt of sunlight through the gloom of eight games without a victory and the usual, predictable, pleas for David Moyes’ exit.


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Now I’ve never been keen of the betting industry's involvement in football, but even Paddy Power got the drift of our change of style and fortune with our boys from Brazil, or their like, in the side... a picture the following morning of the great Barcelona side of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta, with the caption...”West Ham whenever David Moyes is under pressure.”

You had to laugh. I'm not sure I’d ever considered Brazil and Barcelona appearing in the same paragraph as Moyes! But there’s a first time for everything.

The return from injury of Lucas Paqueta, finally reunited with his pal Emerson on our left flank, made the whole night a worthwhile experience, in a game many fans and the Moyes-hating websites had predicted would be another step towards our manager’s P45.

But it didn’t happen. Brentford, with their long ball, long throws, set piece-based style were blown away, Paqueta’s ability to hold possession, find space and dictate play was a joy to watch. Even if it did inspire the usual attacks on Moyes for not being able, prior, to devise a system without our world class playmaker that would continue to produce victories.

That is as boring as it is wrong. To take an extreme example, nobody slaughtered Pep Guardiola when Manchester City were without Kevin De Bruyne earlier in the season and the champions of everywhere, Premier League, Europe the World - had a minor blip.

Sometimes certain players are irreplaceable, certainly when you have such limited resources to cope like us, in contrast to City, who just threw Phil Foden at the problem.

What was good about Monday was to be able to discuss the football rather than the usual diatribe of verbal diarrhoea from the usual suspects about Moyes’ future. It didn’t last long, but I’ll get to that.

Apart from Paqueta and Emerson, there was an outstanding performance from Alphonse Areola who has grown into his role as our number one ‘keeper. His reactions, positioning and bravery was outstanding.

Next some praise for Tomas Soucek, the target of so much criticism at times. His value in either penalty area is crucial to us. Teams must spend time ahead of facing West Ham working on ways to keep him away from the ball in air.

Much the same way as West Ham, it seems according to hat-trick hero Jarrod Bowen, spent much of their preparation working on negating Brentford’s long throws and crosses, which underlines the detailed preparation of Moyes and his coaches.

The game showed that when we have our front three together, we are a different side. Mo Kudus on the right has strength and running power to take on anyone, Paqueta on the other side has the exquisite touch, tricks and toughness in tight areas that gives the rest of the side time to regroup and not have the ball battered back at them.

It also provides the stage for Bowen to shine, and I fail to understand why folk still think he cannot play as a main striker.


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The downside is the worrying displays of Kurt Zouma, clearly not fully fit and now very injury prone. Teams are now targeting him, forcing him onto his weaker foot, and there’s an accident waiting to happen all the time.

We now have four centre backs, and only one - Dino Mavropanos - who can be trusted. Nayef Aguerd’s form has collapsed from what seemed a decent first season. One analysist reckons he has been at fault for 15 goals conceded this season.

Whether this all stems from what was rumoured to be a big money move to Saudi in the summer, which never got off the ground, only he will know. Then we have Angelo Ogbonna, a tremendous servant but now with fading pace and fitness, as the only other alternative.

He rolled back the years with a great display in the league win at Arsenal, but that was in a very low block where he had to defend the box and fight for every inch.

All this has come around together and maybe explains why Moyes wanted James Tarkowski and Harry Maguire, both of whom are better than what we have at present.

Play the youth, I hear you say. Well, there’s Michael Forbes, 20 in April and already a Northern Ireland international. He’s just signed a new long-term contract, and captains the Under 23s. Only time will tell if he is risked at Premier League level.

The argument that you don’t know if they are good enough unless you play them is valid, but in the Premier League caldron, you just never know. Back in December, Manchester United ,with injury problems, had to give 19 year-old Willie Kambwala his debut, a prospect for the future.

But his bad error midway through the second half presented Kudus with the opportunity to score a stunning goal and secure our 2-0 victory. I feel that just underlines the issues of blooding teenagers at the top level, with £2m a place now, no game is of lesser importance.

It’s not just Moyes, who has given 20 youngsters their debuts, who has to wrestle with this issue and why so few youngsters do figure regularly in the top flight.

Liverpool, I hear you all shout. Well their kids did very well in Sunday’s League Cup final victory, with Jugen Klopp throwing on kid after kid in a cavalier fashion. Why not us?

Well, maybe our youngstars are not as good as the current Liverpool crop. They spend vastly more than us on their academy, have stunning facilities at Kirkby and can attract kids worldwide. And with Liverpool already assured of Champions League football next season and the League Cup being fourth on their list of trophies to go for, would it have mattered if they had lost to Chelsea?

Not many managers have that level of risk to gamble with in that situation.


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And there’s a side issue to our current centre back problem. The one youngster who everyone believed would make it to the top at West Ham was Jamal Baptiste, now at Manchester City after being released by us following long-term illness and some off-field stuff that was never fully explained.

City gave him a lifeline, stuck him out on loan to Lommel for six months - where he made three appearances - and now have him back.

I’m sure they were under-impressed when the kid managed to get prosecuted for inhaling laughing gas while driving earlier this year and was fined £1,000. Maybe you can see why he didn’t crack it with us and take what may well have been a senior squad place by now.

Just what Moyes does at Everton on Saturday to sort out a leaky defence is anyone’s guess. Building on that win over Brentford is imperative to keep the social media guys off his back. And they’ve been doing their level best this week to devalue Moyes’ part in Monday’s victory.

I mean, suggesting that Kevin Nolan was in charge, are you sure? He may well have been prepared to sort out serial dickhead Neal Maupay - I know where my money would be - but to even suggest that Moyes’ wasn’t in charge on Monday is utter nonsense.

Of course the rumour got plenty of headwind from the usual suspects, but as one Hammers fan online suggested, "some YouTube accounts are as thick as two short planks, and those who listen to them are just as bad." I couldn’t have put it better myself.

That, sort of, made up my mind about the louder outlets. We are subjected to a constant barrage of vile, vindictive abuse aimed at Moyes and it has seeped into the veins of this club. You can’t turn your phone on without being subjected to yards and yards of daily, hourly, negativity.

I began to realise that it was depressing me, without realising. Propaganda which Lord Haw Haw would have been impressed by, one loudmouth fits that tag perfectly.

Words are manipulated, stories made up, every syllable twisted to attack the manager. Everything dripping in hate with no balance, just sneering abuse. So I’ve decided I’ve had enough. Two websites have been blocked.

There you go, I feel my soul is cleansed instantly. Whether Moyes goes or stays, whether Tim Steidten goes or stays, it will all come out in the wash. But I’m off to Everton, we’ve a European journey still to complete and I want to enjoy these moments without the constant vindictive garbage online.

I’m sure they will be stunned that I don’t want to hear their nonsense any more. I can live with that. But just for some context. This time last season, after a dreadful start to the campaign, we were 17th with 24 points after 26 games. This season we are eighth with 39 points at the same stage, 15 points better off.

That’s the dilemma facing David Sullivan. He may well be influenced by what he sees and hears online from the noisy haters, but sometimes in a results-based, money-dominated industry, statistics are more important than ideology. How would he sell a club in the Championship, he may ask himself.

So it’s goodnight from me to the hate sites. I feel better already.

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