In Memoriam

So. Farewell then
Manuel Pellegrini

“Big team mentality”
That was your catchphrase
Even though you managed West Ham

You had blue eyes
But you were born in Chile
That always puzzled me

And grey hair
You never smiled
And were rude
Not charming

You spent millions
On players
But they got worse

Just like we spent millions
On you
But you got worse

E.J. Thribb 17½  

Why West Ham buy badly

Little David Sullivan

Learn from history or you’re doomed to repeat it

Jesse Ventura

WEST HAM’S dealings in the transfer market since the arrival of Chairman David Sullivan have been little short of disgraceful. For all the brave words about how much money the club spend (in reality a deceit) the fact remains too many signings have been old, injury prone or just not up to it. Far too few players have any appreciable resale value.

As an example, look at the table below of the club’s signings since the move to the Olympic Stadium (fees from Transfermarkt). Less than a third have enjoyed a substantial run in the side with over half having played fewer than 15 games. While the attributed ratings might be arguable it is a fact that only one (Havard Nortdveit) has earned a profit of £5million or more.

There is no plan

Without a Director of Football it’s all but impossible to set out a framework for player abiliies in each position. Instead the club rely on the requirements of each individual manager. Again, there is an inconsistency – under Sullivan the five managers have fluctuated between idealist (Grant, Bilic and Pellegrini) and pragmatist (Allardyce and Moyes). It’s little surprise that, shorn of players to fit a philosophy, the idealists fail before the club then mrelies on the pragmatists to clear up the mess. For all Sullivan’s nonsense about “The West Ham way”, until he steps aside the club will only succeed under a pragmatic manager.

The exemplar of the West Ham transfer policy under Sullivan was Javier Hernandez. The Hammers paid £16m to Bayer Leverkusen (who couldn’t believe asking price was agreed) for the Mexican striker in the expectation of goals plus the bonus of a hefty social media following in Central America. Chicharito only arrived after the club were turned down by then Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud. The difference between the two is as though a man at a bar asked for a pint of bitter but received a Bacardi and Coke instead as “They’re both alcohol innit!” Unlike the Frenchman, Hernandez couldn’t run channels, play with his back to goal or hold the ball up. His effort off the ball was negligible and any pace he once possessed had gone.

Javier Hernandez was a failure

It very quickly became clear Hernandez was hopeless at leading the line on his own and needed a partner despite the Hammers having no midfielders with the defensive presence to play a four. Classic Sullivan to buy a player based only on what he is good at, not his all-round game and with no thought for what formation he wanted the man to play in.

Investment is unevenly spread

For the best part of a decade fans have had to endure a side stuffed with costly attack-minded footballers who might as well be teleported out of the stadium once the ball is lost. Investment in any other area is minimal. Only once has the club paid more than £10m for a defender – for Issa Diop from Toulouse. The 22-year-old is already worth at least twice that amount – begging the question why we don’t attempt more such purchases.

Sullivan wouldn’t appear to understand the necessity of players with more than one string to their bow. Heaven knows what he sees when he views the midfield of Manchester City or Liverpool, the two most successful teams in the country at present, as no Hammers player functions without the ball in the manner all of theirs do.

Sullivan must go

Those seven (count ’em!) scouts in a Europe of 51 countries that Karren Brady was so pleased about may as well not be there as Sulley will usually go to his favoured agent for a recommendation anyway. In case anybody needs reminding, the main motivation of every football agent comes in the form of cash. An individual club’s welfare is very far down the list and Will Salthouse would only worry about relegation as it might affect the value of players he’s moving about.

The original Napoleon

All attempts to remove the Chairman from his player recruitment position have failed. Whether it’s for financial gain or to satisfy his rampant Napoleon Complex is unclear but either way the man refuses to budge. Sadly, he iev’t even very good at the mechanics of the stuff – how many times have we heard about how much work he’s putting in on a transfer only for it to fail? This stuff really shouldn’t be difficult, especially when he most often caves to player or external club demands anyway.

The club needs to learn how to sell

Instead of offering long-term contracts to ageing players (Mark Noble, Aaron Cresswell and Winston Reid are all recent instances), thereby at a stroke reducing the players’ sell-on value and increasing the chances of injury in a squad renowned for it, the club need to learn when to sell players at the peak of their value. Instead our record at selling players is atrocious. Sullivan hangs onto players in a possessive fashion in order to wring all the available drop of value from their deteriorating bodies. It’s almost as though his experience in these matters is not that of a football man but a pimp attempting to dredge every last penny from his stable of girls. Oh.

The Academy is failing

A lack of real term investment since Sullivan arrived at the club has resulted in a cliff edge fall-off of talent emerging through the West Ham youth set up. By all accounts many of the coaches are of insufficient quality, with the good ones leaving when they see for themselves how poorly the place is run. Instead of providing good facilities and great tutors the club instead use the Academy as an opportunity to give favoured former players a “nice little earner”.

Academy product Declan Rice

The production line has ceased. Declan Rice (originally a Chelsea product) is the only first team regular to emerge in the Sullivan era. More strain is put on our esteemed Chair to work his magic in the transfer market as a result.

Summary

The result of our failing system is a squad never capable of ridding itself of deadwood as the cycle of failure continues. Players are seldom bought with thoughts of progression – but more often as emergency cover for a previous failure. Nine years into the Sullivan experiment and here we are still sitting at Year Zero.

Southampton 0-1 West Ham

Where does it go from here
Is it down to the lake I fear?

Haircut 100 – Love Plus One
Haller and Snodgrass celebrate

WEST HAM manager Manuel Pellegrini won the game he required to stay in a job. The rules are less than clear but presumably the Hammers’ next fixture, away to Crystal Palace on Boxing Day is also a “must win” game for the boss. If so, the club Board have merely pushed the day of reckoning forward a week or so and have most likely narrowed the pool of available replacements.

The problem with ultimatums of this type are that although the Hammers were victorious at St Mary’s all the win proved was how badly the Chilean has been managing the club the rest of the season. To get a result yesterday he pretty much tore up all the tenets of the “Pelle-ball” he has been arrogantly insisting upon – and demonstrated very clearly his method is not suitable for a club of our mid-table standing.

Even after the team were humiliated at home by the poorest Arsenal side many have seen, Pellegrini insisted the fault was with the players’ lack of “big team mentality”, code for attacking the opposition all game. Yet against the Saints that fiction was scrapped in favour of vigorously defending a lead by shutting down midfield and insisting on wingers having a role protecting the back four.

No penalty given

The Irons boss was helped in his endeavours by some real luck with injuries; Aaron Cresswell returned from a knock to replace the useless Arthur Masuaku at left-back. Perhaps of greater fortune was a tweak sustained by wide-man Felipe Anderson in training on Friday. This blog was highly critical of the Brazilian’s defensive commitment against the Gunners and a resurgent Pablo Fornals (now starting to look like the £24million player signed over the summer) showed far greater acumen without the ball.

It may well be the manager was going to drop Anderson anyway but credit must be given for altering the formation to face up to Southampton’s terrible home record (won two, scored just nine times in eight games and conceded 24). For all the romantics may wish to believe Pelle reverted to a favoured 4-2-2-2 formation, the reality is against the Saints he opted for a bog standard 4-4-2. A warning ahead of time: The set up will not be suitable for many other occasions and will never allow for the selection of either Anderson or Andriy Yarmolenko (a reported combined £54m worth of talent) due to their laissez-faire attitude towards defending.

The formation meant the Hammers were forced into moving the ball forward much more quickly than is customary as well as promoting crosses into the opposition penalty area. The fruitless tippy-tappy football 25 yards from goal was gone as Michail Antonio set about terrorising Saints’ backline with his pace and power. The England international also proved the perfect foil for striker Sebastien Haller, whose lack of a strike partner has been accommodated with all the joy of an unannounced visit from the Trump family.

The French international is said to want away from the claret and blue because of his disgust with the manager. Yet he saved the latter’s bacon with the same attached irony of Diafra Sakho scoring a late winner against Swansea to rescue Slaven Bilic’s career. Telling was Haller’s dash to celebrate with Issa Diop on the substitutes bench. There is said to be a group of players including, but not limited to, the non-English/Spanish-speaking players at West Ham who want the manager gone – something the big striker’s embrace of his compatriot further emphasised. Pellegrini stood watching much as Unite the Union leader Len McCluskey would have greeted Thursday night’s exit poll – there was a party going on – but he wasn’t part of it.

Clear handball by Antonio

Two things remain to be said: The performance from referee Martin Atkinson and his back up VAR team under Jonathan Moss were well below par. Even if Antonio’s disallowed goal did look a clear handball, the man in, er, yellow consistently penalised the Hammers man merely for being stronger than his opponents. A first-half incident when both Antonio and Haller appeared to be impeded by Southampton defenders following Cresswell’s cross was first bottled by Atkinson, then the officials at Stockley Park. This seemed exactly the sort of decision VAR was brought in to adjudicate upon. Unless and until refs have pitch-side monitors this evasion of responsibility by all parties will continue.

Having finally taken a pragmatic approach to team selection Pellegrini’s substitutions were worse than puzzling. Yarmolenko for Robert Snodgrass and the woeful Carlos Sanchez for Haller were misjudged and gave an initiative to Southampton they very nearly grasped. Diop for the fading Mark Noble only emphasised how the skipper can barely manage 90 minutes these days.

So here we are, another game gone and nothing resolved. Pellegrini hangs on, the players mistrustful and fans underwhelmed. Quite what does it need for our wretched Board of Directors to take accountability for the mess the club is in?

And don’t slam the door on your way out!

FOR you, strategy and tactics were things other people do. Just go

The only person you really believed in was yourself. Go

You were arrogant, obstinate and vain. Go

Coming from a very comfortable background you never understood the working classes. Go

Worse, the people who pay their money didn’t like you. Go

You treated the press with barely concealed disgust. Go

You took a huge wage yet didn’t even attempt to step out of your comfort zone. Go

You are humourless, you don’t engage and we’ve barely seen you crack a smile. Go

If you had any humility or integrity you would have pushed off long since. Go

You were rude and lacked warmth. Go

You came in with a huge fanfare but never lived up to it. Go

Competence would have been enough. But you chose idealism even though your dreams were never going to fly. Go

You lost, then you lost and just for a change you lost some more.

Just go

Please go

Go

Jeremy Corbyn or Manuel Pellegrini? You decide.

Defending: The indefensible

ON Monday night West Ham lost 3-1 to Arsenal despite a half-time lead, as the Hammers conceded three times in just 10 minutes. Such was the nature of both the goals and the home side’s response to taking the lead they bear some closer analysis. Although the intent is to highlight inadequacies in game management and shape rather than performances, obvious individual errors will be addressed.

As pointed out in our match report the Hammers were a goal up against a side without a win in nine games. Under such circumstances the orthodoxy would be to tuck in, compress space and not allow the visitors possession or space. As our first pic shows, this could not have been further from the reality.

The Gunners had teased West Ham by playing the ball out from keeper to full backs and the home side enthusiastically leapt into the trap by attempting to press the yellow defence – something they don’t regularly commit to and have little experience of. Attempting any sort of press with a deep defensive line is football suicide. Consequently the Hammers midfield shape is awful with Mark Noble (who really should know better) jumping forward before handing over marking to Pablo Fornals – a job the youngster barely engages with.

Declan Rice has also been caught too far forward and trails his runner (the goalscorer Gabriel Martinelli). Robert Snodgrass is making every effort to cover his flank as the ball is played past him – but on the nearside, in what will become a recurring theme, Felipe Anderson is ambling towards his own goal with little purpose.

Rice never catches Martinelli who is in five yards of space and finishes crisply as three defenders concern themselves with striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang instead.

At this point it is worth talking about the role of wingers in manager Manuel Pellegrini’s system. They seem integral to his game – but it is unclear what, if any, function they provide. West Ham don’t cross the ball, the wide-men never tuck-in to help midfield and offer little support for their full-backs. Neither do they get ahead of a lone striker or run at opponents, making their role almost invisible. Anderson for example, has scored just one goal this year.

For the second goal Arsenal again played out from the back. Snodgrass is stranded up front while Rice and Noble remain compact in the middle. Nonetheless, there isn’t a claret and blue shirt within 10 yards of either an opponent or the ball.

One simple angled ball and the Hammers midfield is dissected. Angelo Ogbonna has inexplicably dropped off a back four that are otherwise in good shape. At the bottom of the picture £72millon signing Nicolas Pepe is moving into an attacking position without any attention from either Anderson or left-back Arthur Masuaku.

Just look at the space between Anderson and Masuaku as the ball is played into Aubameyang. All the left-back’s focus is on the striker before the latter turns and plays a simple ball out to the right.

Masuaku finally appreciates the danger, panics and rushes towards Pepe. Possibly unaware the player is left-footed, he shows him onto that side and the player finishes with a sumptuous curler unimpeded by any effort to block the shot or properly close him down. By now such is Anderson’s lack of commitment to defending he is barely in the shot.

For the third and final goal West Ham again attempt a reluctant press. Anderson chases for about 10 yards before giving up and stopping before reluctantly breaking into an amble. Again Arsenal play through an almost non-existent midfield with ease.

At this point is worth noting Ogbonna has again broken the line – possibly as a result of having no midfield cover in front of him. Masuaku is chasing back from an advanced position there was no point being in. The space between Ogbonna and fellow centre-back Fabian Balbuena is huge – and ultimately leads to the goal.

Aubemeyang is able to collect a diagonal ball and back heel it to an unencumbered Pepe who has advanced from the bottom of the picture.

The Ivorian has all the time in the world to cross to his team-mate who, bisecting the home centre-backs volleys home.

It is rumoured boss Pellegrini never watches opponents, preferring instead to “impose” his system on allcomers. Two words sum up this ethos; lazy and arrogant. The shape of his midfield is awful – no team can give the amount of space to opponents West Ham do and not expect to come off worse. The left flank is permanently a goal waiting to happen. Quite what happens in training is a mystery – players don’t appear to have much idea of what their individual roles are and little trust in colleagues to carry them out.

With the Chilean’s job under threat and regardless of whether you believe the current Board to be capable of appointing a competent successor (this blog believes otherwise) this shambles cannot be allowed to go on.

West Ham 1-3 Arsenal

West Ham boss Pellegrini takes the long walk

WATCHING West Ham under Manuel Pellegrini is to be reminded of the old joke about the yokel who starts work in a sawmill. After 20 minutes the rookie calls his foreman over to complain he’s lost a finger on the saw blade. “How did you do that?”, enquires his boss, “Well, I just put my hand like this and – oh, there goes another one!” Just like the newbie, the Chilean never seems to learn – and cares even less.

Once again, the Hammers lost a game to a team on a poor run of form due to mental frailty born of tactical incoherence. Arsenal were terrible. Really poor. They looked like Avram Grant era West Ham. Unfortunately, the home side in contrast could be best viewed as a late-era Arsene Wenger side attempting to pass the ball into the net.

Pellegrini plays a formation that sacrifices central midfielders for wingers that won’t defend. Except the widemen (as well as everybody else) appear to have a moratorium on crossing the ball. The received wisdom is many goalkeepers are scared of crosses – at West Ham it’s our wingers. All the more frustrating when the first decent cross of the night resulted in Angelo Ogbonna scoring.

Arsenal, without a win in nine games could and should have crumbled. The Hammers should have tucked in, filled the midfield, shut the game down and picked the away side off as they stretched their play.

Instead of which the home team threw themselves lemming-like into the Gooners trap of playing out from the keeper. The claret and blue attempt at a press was dismal, those in yellow played through it and scored three goals in a nine-minute blitz as the Hammers defence disintegrated. For the third home game in succession West Ham conceded three.

Post-match as far as the eye could see were fans who shorn of anger were metaphorically throwing their hands in the air. David Sullivan might do well to reflect that apathy is a much more corrosive emotion for a football team than anger.

An accurate summary of the blossoming relationship between West Ham and their fans

As to the immediate future, all the studies show that managers make very little difference to a football team’s performance and that wages are a far better predicator of a team’s success. It would appear sacking Manuel Pellegrini will make very little difference to West Ham’s prospects for the second half of the season.

However, there is also good evidence to suggest certain managers are outriders – David Moyes, Sean Dyche and Sam Allardyce among others, consistently overperform.

The West Ham Board have said their manager has one game (Southampton away) to save his job, a decision that by any logic is futile. If the boss needs that gee up in the first place it would suggest he hasn’t been carrying out his duties to the full in the first place. A win doesn’t solve the problem but merely delays crunch time until the next game. Whereas, if there is no improvement then it’s one more game we haven’t won. This would be a very West Ham tactic that allow a Board famous for the practice to brief against the manager to once again attempt to escape responsibility for poor decisions.

When Alan Pardew (in)famously called Pellegrini “A fucking old cunt” on the touchline at St James Park who was to know he would be speaking for all of us – even if the former Palace man is NOT a suitable replacement. Coming back to the opening quote, the only question remains how long it will take the Hammers manager to saw off his remaining fingers.

Chelsea chants: Our Reaction

FOR large parts of Saturday’s victory at Stamford Bridge West Ham fans chanted “Chelsea are rent boys, everywhere they go”. Perhaps it is as a result of the Blues lack of atmosphere that the words were clearly audible both on the radio at the time and Match of the Day later.

Football’s Kick It Out were very quickly onto the case. Primarily thought of as an anti-racism group they claim to be a “campaigning organisation which enables, facilitates and works with the football authorities, professional clubs, players, fans and communities to tackle all forms of discrimination.

Kick It Out statement

The group released a statement which read: “We have received numerous reports of homophobic chanting directed at Chelsea fans during their match against West Ham United on Saturday. We have informed the FA and reiterate our message: the ‘Rent Boy’ chant is homophobic and must be treated as such.”

Hot on their heels was a Twitter thread from the Pride of Irons, an LGBT+ group for West Ham fans who along with WHUISA and Hammers United are affiliated to the Football Supporters’ Association.

PoI said: “When you use homophobic chants you aren’t abusing most Chelsea fans who will be straight, but all gay fans whether they support Chelsea or West Ham… We shouldn’t be the club appearing in the news for homophobia, there are other clubs who have ingrained problems. Let’s not join their ranks. Be better. Be West Ham.”

Before taking a stand either way it should be noted the OWHWLY group are far from unanimous in how we view both the chants and subsequent reaction. However, legitimation from West Ham fans appears to fall into five themes which will be addressed in turn.

Diminishment: This runs along the lines of “Some people are offended by anything, it’s only banter.” This can be brushed aside fairly quickly – chants are designed to be offensive – the whole purpose of “banter” at football is to provoke a reaction.

Furthermore, the laws of the land on Hate Crime are very clear: “The term ‘hate crime’ can be used to describe a range of criminal behaviour where the perpetrator is motivated by hostility or demonstrates hostility towards the victim’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity. These aspects of a person’s identity are known as ‘protected characteristics’. A hate crime can include verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, harassment, assault and bullying, as well as damage to property.”

Players and fans celebrate

Whataboutery: Several Twitter accounts have pointed to the fact West Ham are often on the receiving end of taunts that involves the word “pikey” – a term used pejoratively against Romany that is often used to indicate low social class. Essentially, this argument says, “You can’t punish this behaviour so long as somebody else is displaying another wrong behaviour”. It is fundamentally flawed. As everybody’s grandmother used to say, “Two wrongs don’t make a right”.

Free speech: We have observed comments from people complaining a right to free speech has been curtailed. A quick look at the law as above should be enough to dispel that line. However, it is worth pointing out that with rights come duties in exactly the same way freedoms involve responsibility. Your freedom to offend explicitly curtails another’s freedom from abuse. Free speech is not and has never been an absolute.

‘Rent boy’ doesn’t mean gay: Don’t buy this one, it feels like sophistry. The most common understanding is rent boys make their money by engaging in a homosexual act. Those that go with women are more often referred to as a gigolo.

Chelsea are a special case: This argument involves an understanding of history that is unlikely to have be digested by very many at The Bridge on Saturday and is best summed up by the first post on this thread. Unless and until everybody is aware of and accepts the definition, (an unlikely scenario on both counts) other motivations for the chant have to be preferred.

Conclusion: Condemning fans is a waste of time and counter-productive. We all loved the West Ham response to Chelsea supporters refusing to allow black passengers onto a train as it enabled the Cockney Boys to take the moral high ground. It was also very funny. How about we aim to maintain that position and display our superior humour and standards by keeping the rent boy chants away from the public sphere? After all, there are plenty of other reasons for taking the piss out of Chelsea.

Chelsea 0-1 West Ham

Sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there.

The Stranger – The Big Lebowski

ISN’T this why we love West Ham? That frustrating, maddening, consistently awful team that just once in every while will bring us fleeting moments of the purest, most unadulterated joy imaginable.

Father and son

Saturday’s win over Chelsea contained just such an instant, as emotionally spent, 33-year-old debutant goalkeeper David Martin slumped at the final whistle before climving to the press box and tearfully embracing his father, club legend Alvin.

The Hammers had ended a dismal run of just two points from the last 21 to beat cross-town rivals Chelsea on their manor and dispel, for a few heady hours at least, all the concerns over how the club is run.

All too much

This blog is going to take time out from tactics, club gossip, intra-fan animosities and all the rest to just enjoy the moment.

“One David Martin, there’s only ONE David Martin!”

Let’s be honest, the keeper wasn’t too severely tested by a toothless Chelsea side stripped of their main attacking threat by an injury to Tammy Abraham. He did spill a couple of fairly routine catches, as well as allowing a seemingly harmless cross to rebound to safety from his near post.

Nobody cared. Every catch, every kick was cheered to the rafters by boisterous Hammers supporters relieved of the spectacle of the incompetent Roberto flapping around. At least if Martin were to be a useless goalkeeper he was OUR useless goalkeeper.

The fact is when when it came to the crunch Martin performed well. And at the final whistle the player slumped to the ground drained, having helped his boyhood team to three points courtesy of Aaron Creswell’s tidy finish. After being dragged to his feet by grateful team-mates came the trek up the terrace to a father who had made 596 Hammers appearances over a 21-season career.

West Ham salute you

Both men were in tears. Who wouldn’t be – there wasn’t a dry eye in this household!

Just one sour thought – the most recent time West Ham won at Stamford Bridge, a 3-2 victory in September 2002, the team went on to be relegated from the Premier League. But then, that side didn’t possess David Martin, a man of impeccable Hammers heritage and massive good character.

Born into the claret and blue

The background:


The story began midway through West Ham’s best ever league season of 1985-86. Four days after the Hammers had travelled back from a 3-1 league defeat to eventual champions Liverpool, centre-back and Bootle-born Alvin Martin welcomed into the world his first child, son David. Born in Romford on the 22nd of January the lad grew up showing all the promise of his father as a defender. Signed by Tottenham on schoolboy terms the player converted to a keeper and after a spell with Wimbledon made the reverse journey to his father by signing for Liverpool. Unfortunately, at 6ft 1in Martin was short for a contemporary goalie and never made a first team appearance. Following a series of loans Martin returned to Wimbledon – by now Milton Keynes Dons – and settled for seven years where he built a reputation as a solid if unspectacular player. Then followed a move to Millwall where an uncharacteristic howler during a cup match against Brighton effectively ended his Lions career. Picked up by West Ham on a free as a “training keeper” to work with first choice Lukasz Fabianski and understudy Roberto Jimenez, Martin’s chances of gaining the Premier League appearance he had always craved appeared as remote as ever. That was until the Polish stopper suffered a torn thigh muscle taking a goal kick against Bournemouth. Roberto proved to be a hopeless deputy, conceding 14 goals in just seven starts. Numerous unforced errors led to a slump in form and confidence of the entire team before manager Manuel Pellegrini, under pressure for his job, picked Martin for the derby game at Stamford Bridge.

 

West Ham Board say “Sack the fans”!

A West Ham supporter earlier today

TEMPERATURES reached fever pitch at Premier League West Ham today as the Board of Directors launched a noisy protest against club supporters, who they claim have let the club down.

The demo resulted in unpleasant scenes as Associates stormed well-know fan pubs before congregating outside the Olympic Stadium in expectation of ambushing punters before the next home game, against Arsenal on Monday week.

A Board spokesman, who wished to be referred to only as “John” was in combative mood as he explained: “We work hard all week and want to see our club play attractive football, and hopefully win games”.

The 70-year-old Cardiff-born, 5ft 2ins tall, ex-pornographer continued: “Things have really come to a head, the fans promised us ‘next level’ football but all we see week in, week out is the same old rubbish.

“We want to talk to them – but they flat out refuse.

He added: “Fans out!” and waved a banner that read ‘Sold a dream, living a nightmare’.

Live from the Queen Elizabeth Park

We later caught up with Hammers supporter Clive Daley, 44, of Chafford Hundred in Essex who was in a contrite mood as he admitted things hadn’t gone entirely to plan.

He said: “Yes, some of it is fair criticism, us fans probably shouldn’t have insisted on a move to the grim, soul-sapping, characterless concrete bowl that we call the London Stadium.

“And when it comes to the keeper situation, it wasn’t the best idea to raffle off the spot in order to fund one week of Jack Wilshere’s wages.

He added: “But we’re doing our best under difficult circumstances – the Board don’t understand how difficult all the day-to-day business of running a football club can be.

“After all, it’s our money we invested.”

When questioned on the appointment of Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini the plastering contractor refused any further comment and walked away murmuring: “Ungrateful bastards … filthy ungrateful bastards…”

We contacted the club press office but they refused to give a statement although we later received a WhatsApp message from the same number that read: “We no wear you slags live – you wouldn’t want nuffin to happen to little Whiskers now, wood ya?”

Protests are expected to continue.

And they’re off!

PLACE your bets as we assess the runners and riders ahead of the great Manuel Pellegrini sack race.

A pitiful two points from the last 21 are nowhere near good enough for a side claiming top six status. Plus, it has been said no Premier League manager can withstand five consecutive defeats and maintain their job. West Ham’s Chilean boss is currently on three with tricky away trips to Chelsea and Wolves looming. So let’s have a scan at the potential appointees for the claret and blue hot seat. In no particular order:

Sean Dyche

Pros: Seems keen and would sort the lamentable defence out. Has plenty of Premier League experience with Burnley, readily confounds the expected goals metric and is in possession of a strong work ethic.
Cons: Would cost a bit prising him from Lancashire. Certain fans (among them the Chairman) might not appreciate his unremitting honesty.
Hair: Brave nineties industrial.
Odds: 5/1

Chris Wilder

Pros: Brilliant and inventive tactician who encourages signature moves such as the overlapping centre-back. Has done wonders with an average Sheffield United squad. Liked by the West Ham Board.
Cons: Less than six months experience in the Premier League. Sheffield United wouldn’t let go of the former full-back without a fight – and especially not to West Ham!
Hair: Silver fox.
Odds: 6/1

Rafael Benitez

Pros: Has worked at the top level including Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid. Stabilised a similar basket case to West Ham while at Newcastle. Good relationship with David Sullivan.
Cons: £££
Hair: Max-era Peter Kay.
Odds: 8/1

Eddie Howe

Pros: An up and coming manager, he has established Bournemouth as a Premier League side.
Cons: He doesn’t want to come to West Ham and the Board don’t want him.
Hair: Luvverly!
Odds: 50/1

David Moyes

Pros: Knows what it is all about and did a brilliant job of keeping West Ham up last time around.
Cons: Wants the Everton job above all. Was treated shabbily by Hammers fans and employers.
Hair: Well seasoned – salt and pepper.
Odds: 15/1

Chris Hughton

Pros: Out of work. Has top flight experience with Newcastle, Norwich and Brighton. Sullivan can sell him as an ex-West Ham player.
Cons: Out of work. Limited tactically, ultra-defensive.
Hair: No fixed abode.
Odds: 5/4 Lump on!

Scott Parker

Pros: Loved by the fans. Would get Sullivan off the hook. Er… That’s it.
Cons: Lack of experience.
Hair: Who would ever forget that razor sharp parting?
Odds: 50/1

Slaven Bilic

Pros: Inexplicably loved by those of a claret and blue persuasion.
Cons: He’s a rubbish coach with very limited tactical awareness – particularly when Dimi isn’t around to bail him out.
Hair: Ludicrous hair transplant. Just For Men’s the lot, beard included.
Odds: 50/1

Paolo Di Canio

Pros: See Scott Parker.
Cons: More baggage than EasyJet.
Hair: Solar panel.
Odds: 1,000/1