The move to a new stadium often results in some people being unhappy. Most clubs when they move take a little while to settle. It’s the same as moving house. It takes a while to get used to your new surroundings. A trawl through social media reveals how when results are going against us, or when we are not playing well (to put it mildly), then individuals want to blame someone, or a group of people, or an inanimate object as to the reason for it. Sometimes it’s the players, or the manager, or the board, or the stadium. Sometimes it is all of them added together.
I can understand the disenchantment with players, especially when sometimes they don’t appear to be giving their all. I can understand that the buck stops with the manager when he is responsible for picking the team, devising tactics etc. If he is unhappy with the effort being put in by players at training, then it is his responsibility to do something about it. When things are not going well then the board will inevitably come in for criticism from some fans too. Certainly the summer transfer dealings which resulted in some very average recruitment, the proposed payments to Tevez, and anticipation of a “marquee” signing, would have been better kept in-house rather than discussed with media outlets. But the vitriolic personal attacks by some on social media are totally unnecessary, although I guess are just a consequence of the computer age, and happen in other spheres of life, too.
The one that really gets me is the criticism of the stadium. It’s just a football pitch surrounded by stands. I understand all the talk about it not being a football stadium, further from the pitch etc., so how comes we turned in the performance we did against Chelsea in the League Cup? Did we play it somewhere else when I wasn’t looking? The atmosphere at that game was at least equal to anything ever produced at Upton Park. The decibel levels when Antonio nodded in the late winner against Bournemouth, or when Payet scored his wonder individual goal to equalise against Middlesbrough went off the scale. And if you study the statistics, Upton Park was rarely a “fortress”.
I’m not one of the new breed of plastic supporters that I see written about. I spent 58 years going to Upton Park. I loved it in the old days when we stood on the terraces and were close to the pitch. Yes, sometimes a crowd of 20,000 would generate a fantastic atmosphere, but only at times when we were lifted by the players on the pitch. When we weren’t playing well you could almost hear a pin drop at times. And with the redevelopment of Upton Park into an all-seater stadium following the Taylor report, we weren’t that close to the pitch either. I am more than happy with the new stadium, as are most of the people I’ve discussed it with who sit nearby. But everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I always respect other opinions.
But I personally don’t understand why fans keep going on about it. There is no going back I’m afraid. There is no point in posting pictures of the Boleyn Ground in various states of demolition. I’ve even read pleas to wealthy West Ham fans to come forward, and put together a new team, a bit like what has happened in Manchester, and even try to buy the Boleyn Ground from the developers and build a brand new purpose built football stadium there. Quite a project to undertake.
Perhaps the reason for our poor start is a mixture of players, injuries, the manager and coaching staff, the training facilities, the board, and the stadium. I believe that with a good run of results, much of the negativity will disappear. Everyone has to pull together to turn things around. But if we are still hovering around the relegation zone at the turn of the year, then I am afraid that the current discontent will continue. Let’s hope that everyone involved does their bit to ensure a big improvement in the remainder of the season.