WHO Poll
Q: 2020/2021 Where will we finish up this season?
a. Top Four, Champions League here we come
b. 5th-7th Europa League is well within our grasp
c. 8th to 14th anywhere in mid table is about right
d. We're in a dog fight before a ball has been kicked and we'll do well to finish 17th or just above
e. GSB have derailed our season before a ball has been kicked, the Championship beckons

cartis 12:02 Wed Mar 14
Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
Couldn't see this anywhere else so appologies if already done.

There’s no place like home and the London Stadium is no place like home. Just look at the name: West Ham United are proud East End, not tourist-board “London” shoehorned into the crest to help day-trippers. Just look at the ground’s configuration: designed for happy-clappy athletic meetings, not the passion play that is football.

Just listen to the West Ham fans, the sensible majority, not the few hundred shamefully sending scared kids running for sanctuary in the away dugout, or coin-throwing cowards forfeiting the right to debate, but the proper West Ham faithful frustrated by a stadium patently not fit for football purpose, as well as their obvious disconnect with the board.

A deserved game behind closed doors might make the owners think of their own mistakes. The chaos engulfing a famous old club and an unloved rented residence is what happens when boards put egos before supporters.Just look at what Juventus did when they constructed their atmospheric new home: they appointed an architect in Gino Zavanella who understood the tifosi, who throughout his career working on arenas promised to put “the fan at the centre of a stadium project” and guaranteed proximity to the pitch, which he delivered fully in Turin. Fans at the centre.
Just listen to what the distinguished Basle-based architects Herzog & de Meuron pitched in its successful design for Bayern Munich’s splendid Allianz Arena: “As in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, spectators sit right next to where the action takes place . . . each of the three tiers is as close as possible to the playing field.” Fans next to the action. These draughtsmen had an emotional contract with supporters and actually cared to think of their match-going experience, their sightlines and what constitutes their home. These architects were guided by the premise forgotten by too many of those in charge that football without fans is nothing.
Fans’ match-day needs and logistics were scandalously low on priorities of the ill-fated Stratford project as the awkward conversion from athletics to football was made. It was always going to be an emotional wrench when West Ham vacated Upton Park; all those match-day routines gone, all those associations with famous moments severed.
Now they are in limbo and it hurts. Many did accept the need to move for modern, commercial reasons, and they were sold a dream by the board who then did not confront the configurational inadequacies of the Olympic stadium. West Ham fans were also deceived by politicians, such as Boris Johnson, juggling individual agendas and the collective problem of what to do with the Olympic stadium after the 2012 London Games.
An aside here, but Johnson’s involvement in football is invariably catastrophic, from not knowing the difference between rugby and football tackles in a charity match to backing ill-judged World Cup bids (get the government to invest money in grass roots first). Somebody please keep Johnson out of football.
But back to proper football people. Everybody should really have listened to Daniel Levy, the Tottenham Hotspur chairman. They should have torn down the Olympic stadium, saying thanks for the memories but you’re only important for a fortnight every four years, and built a real football stadium there, applying the Zavanella and Herzog approach of fans at the centre. Shakespeare’s spirit in Stratford — now there’s a headline.
They need to move. West Ham are tied in to a lengthy annual tenancy of £2.5 million (£1.5 million in the Championship), so extricating themselves from the so-called “deal of the century” will be complicated, but that is why they employ expensive lawyers and they can argue with some conviction that they have been short-changed by the stadium owners and the authorities.
The stewarding is poor, and even the tabard types at Crufts reacted quicker to insurgents at the weekend. The police were alarmingly slow too. It’s not as though the West Ham fans hadn’t been fulminating and raising about the possibility of protest in the previous fortnight.
They can put up as many pictures of Bobby Moore, Billy Bonds and Sir Trevor Brooking as they like but the Olympic stadium will still not feel like home, a football home. The location is not the problem, for all the fuss about treks from the station around a shopping centre, because the only distance that matters is the distance from the pitch. And it’s too far.
Since Saturday’s pitch invasions and protest against the board, many have argued cogently that West Ham’s predicament runs far deeper than the stadium. They are undeniably engulfed in the perfect storm of on-field and off-field issues of an indifferent team, a manager in David Moyes who doesn’t imbue confidence with his comments or tactics, and the unfulfilled declarations of the co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold.
They are inhibited by some horrendous recruitment, such as purchasing Andy Carroll when everyone else waved his injury record in the air and screamed “buyer beware”. They prevaricated over William Carvalho last summer, just the type of powerful, disciplined holding midfield player they crave.
The board balked at the cost, supposedly £40 million, for a widely respected Portugal player who won Euro 2016, and bowed out, muttering about injury issues with a player who is now 25 years old and three games short of 250 appearances for club and country. West Ham’s board can be very small-minded at times.
Their sympathisers proclaim that the owners’ largesse is evidenced by having the eighth largest wage bill in the Premier League, but the club should really wear this as a badge of shame; they are clearly not as cute at recruitment or negotiation as they think they are. And why exactly did they offload James Tomkins for £10 million? Crystal Palace are struggling but Tomkins has been decent.
On Saturday, Sean Dyche’s players outfought and outplayed Moyes’s, so let’s dismiss all the nonsense about demonstrations being responsible for West Ham’s defeat. The visitors led by the time of the pitch invasions.
Let’s acknowledge more the contrast. Burnley sit bottom of the Premier League wages list but seventh in the table that counts. They were hungrier, better organised and overseen by a better manager in Dyche. As a club as well as a team, Burnley are better run than West Ham.
No wonder the fans are protesting. Some who ally themselves to a legitimate anti-board campaign are simply adrenaline-chasers, boredom-banishers and thugs, but the majority aren’t. Even the pitch invader who attempted to plant a corner flag in the centre-spot — an obvious echo of the fan protests against the club’s controversial bond scheme in the early 1990s — bore the mournful look of a supporter pushed beyond despair.
The West Ham captain, Mark Noble, a touchstone for the game’s soundest principles, grappled with another pitch invader and then spoke mournfully about the club’s predicament, and how he actually understood some of the fans’ vexations if not their means of expressing them. Mournfulness defined the image of Brooking sitting alone in the directors’ box after Sullivan and Gold had retreated to escape the coins launched their way.
Such sights and sounds of deep mournfulness are not what West Ham are about; they have traditionally been a family, dysfunctional occasionally, but united. That fan with the flag, that man with the armband and that knight forlorn in the smart seats are actually on the same side.
It is three weeks until the club’s next home game, against Southampton, which by rights should be played behind closed doors because of the reprehensible acts of some. A protest march is planned, or “stroll” as it is being called to avoid detection, so the club, and football, face another day of shame unless the FA is strong and makes the game played behind closed doors.
There was daft talk yesterday of imposing a fine on West Ham, laughable really given the wealth of top clubs, and another reality in all this is that the FA lacks a leadership able to gather all parties together and at least mediate, if not sort the mess.
The truth remains that the London Stadium is the primary cause and lightning rod for disaffection. It embodies much of what the fans are railing against: gentrification and the attempted cleansing of the old support. It resembles commerce first, support second.
Until it is ripped down and rebuilt as a football stadium, the problem remains and the politicians won’t countenance that. West Ham have to face biting the bullet, absorbing the financial cost and finding a new home, a home fit for football.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

jack flash 11:54 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
Good article

What ever happened to the state-of-the-art retractable seating which was supposed to address the problem of the distance from the pitch?

Sven Roeder 11:30 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
We were the better team in our clunking disjointed way in the first half.
Burnley turned it around and we never got going in the second half.
They scored just before the goal , Barnes (?) was 2 inches offside if at all when they walked through central midfield.
By the time they scored there was only one team that was going to do that.

And Winter is right about the stadium
Knock it down and start again.

jimbo2. 11:18 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
It’s far more than the occasional oddball Exile. If people don’t like going there, then don’t go! There has been at least one WHO posted who constantly slags off the stadium, but by his own admission has never been there!

Exiled In Surrey 11:05 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
Can't make an informed judgement after 1 visit.

There may be the occasional odd-ball that likes the stadium but the vast majority, including ex-players, tv commentators etc are saying its not fit for purpose as a football stadium.

jimbo2. 10:59 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
I disagree, it’s far too cliche’d hope & we were undoubtably the better team until Burnley scored. He clearly wasn’t at the game to see that. Also, not everyone hates the stadium. I sat next to someone who had never been there before (he had been to UP) & he thought the stadium was a massive improvement. Some of Winters comments ring true, but certainly not all of them!

wanstead_hammer 9:56 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
Yeh, decent write up.

Hermit Road 6:59

jim@chickenrun 9:39 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
Winter,s bang on...the stadium is the main problem......we won't be west ham again until were in a football stadium.

Hermit Road 6:59 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
“not the few hundred shamefully sending scared kids running for sanctuary in the away dugout, or coin-throwing cowards forfeiting the right to debate”

Yet if it wasn’t for the people who had forfeited the right to debate, there’d be no debate. The press would have continued to leave the bandwagon unoccupied.

geoffpikey 6:28 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
These features / opinion pieces are all very well. Yet not so long ago, most journalists were bemoaning our "deal of the century" at taxpayers' expense. Now, it turns out we were shafted. Thanks media "experts".

Darlo Debs 5:58 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
Good piece. What i dont really get though is how powerful the athletics lobby was in all of this given their weak commercial power in comparison to football. I am not saying here that we shouldnt have an athletic legacy but a better compromise surely would have been to rebuild the stadium as a football stadium, then use some of the funds from discounted rent to donate to the Terrence Macmillan Stadium. Surely thats a win win scenario.

Texas Iron 5:10 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
Good piece...
But should also blame Coe...Livingston...for OS Fiasco...not just Buffoon Boris...
Also lets owners off lightly for incompetent and/or tightfisted investment in squad and managers over 8 years ...!!!

Ilford Hammer 2:58 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
I normally don't like that posh sod, but that's a very well written piece.

We're getting traction in the media left, right and centre now and so we have to keep the pressure on. It mustn't be allowed to die out with a whimper.

lars 2:49 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
Not being able to support the team!

lars 2:48 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
Agreed Lily, legitimate grievances should not result in 54k+ fans supporting the team.

Lily Hammer 2:46 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
I agree it’s a great piece, even going as far as recommending what we feel we can’t realistically demand, rebuild/new stadium. Maybe we should push for it. This present set up has to be declared intolerable; no excuses. The word used for the seating issue during negotiations was “dealbreaker,” if the seating couldn’t be sorted correctly.

The only thing I disagree with in the article is the idea that it’s only right and proper that the next game is played behind closed doors.

lars 2:40 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
Difficult to argue with anything in Henry Winter's article. The OS is not a football stadium, and West Ham fans deserve better. The owners need to heed the Juventus experience and build a fit-for-football stadium.

Iron Duke 2:15 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
I agree with most of what you say, Alf.

They have spent the minimum amount they thought they could get away with on the team and manager, while lumbering us with expensive loans and high wages.

They have also spent the minimum amount possible on the ground. There is loads that they could have done to make the experience better for the fans, but they chose to keep their hands in their pockets.

On top of that, they are raking it in from the interest on the loans that they lent to the club which they profess to love.

Then they issue out lifetime bans like confetti.

They are the problem - not the fans, not the ground.

Sir Alf 2:05 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
Some good points but for me underplays the importance of a decent squad a little. If there was a squad being built, results were improving and the football. Younger, hungry players part of a Klopp like revolution... the stadium with all its faults would be secondary for the majority IMO. They could put up with it and the owners would have bought time etc. to eventually change it, buy it, knock it down or whatever.

They invested badly season one and season two ( this season) did not rectify that and invested badly again. They also started 2 seasons ago from a misguided position. They thought the squad was far better than it was. Payet did us no favours in more ways than one.

Of course, it was what they "wanted to see" it suited their agenda to invest no more than they had to.

EVen then Sullivan has shown he is an incompetent fool as a DoF and his investment and lack of strategic thinking beggars belief.

Rich stupid man who is too rich to realise what an imbecile he is.

boltkunt 1:54 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.

BetterthanKaka 1:52 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.

boltkunt 1:50 Wed Mar 14
Re: Henry Winter-Excellent piece.
Alright you slags

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