23 October 2011


It's not often here at TSLR Towers we allow the blog to be hijacked by an opposing fan. In fact, it's never happened before. But seeing as we had such a veteran blogger and West Ham fan hanging about, we thought it would be good to let you hear from a sort of extended TSLRite. May we introduce you to Richard Abbott - who spent many a year penning The Corridor blog about, er, cricket. Since they decided to jack it in last month - and their most prolific blogger hasn't got anything to blog about - we invited Mr Abbott to pen some words on football. The resultant article suggests that The Corridor's loss is most certainly our gain. Ahead of tomorrow's match, the Hammers fan looks at Gus with awe and tries to admire his own manager...

I'm not old enough to have seen Sam Allardyce play football. This isn’t a fact that keeps me awake at night. I've never seen John Prescott ice skate or Nicolai Valuev roller-blade either, but I imagine the three experiences to be aesthetically similar.

I do have fond memories of watching next Tottenham manager Gus Poyet though. Despite playing for two of our London rivals, the enterprise and spark of the man resonated with West Ham fans. A player like that will always be appreciated at Upton Park. By all accounts, the Uruguayan has transferred some of his irresistible flair to his Brighton charges, and I look forward to seeing them for the first time on Monday.

Smart new stadium, a winning culture, the finest fanzine in the Football League - there are several reasons to envy the Seagulls at the moment. West Ham fans might put Gus on the top of that list; after all, he's more of a West Ham manager than the West Ham manager himself.

If Gus Poyet wasn't regenerating football on the south coast of England, he'd be strolling the Uruguayan Riviera wearing an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt and tiny shorts (admittedly a look that'd work in Brighton), probably sipping cocktail from a coconut. Outside of football, Sam Allardyce, on the other hand, would be a middle management Rail professional. Were he a dog, Gus Poyet would be a sleek and handsome Dalmatian. Allardyce literally has the face of a bulldog. I imagine Gus drives a sensible but alluring convertible. Big Sam drives a monster truck. Gus's going to manage Spurs. Big Sam isn't. You get the message.

Which is not to say Allardyce has been entirely bad news for us.

Crucially - for a set of fans who buy into the mantra: we're not going to win anything so might as well look half decent while doing so (if anyone can translate into latin we'll get it incorporated on the club crest immediately) - the extent to which we will adopt a style of football more akin to Allardyce's playing days than Poyet's remains to be seen. He's had more pressing things to deal with first up; namely halt a deep-rooted three-year malaise.

West ham were broken when he took over. A losing mentality, an alarming habit of conceding last minute goals and an ability to do so freely during minutes 1-89 as well were the first things to change.

And that he has, by and large. Fresh faces and shipping out dead wood has sewn the seeds of a change in mentality - not yet winning, more not losing every single match. Remarkably, for a man with a face that seems to be melting, he's been ten times more charismatic and upbeat than his predecessor, Uncle Avram - a man with the haunted look of someone who's just married Kerry Katona.

So it'd be unfair to judge Big Sam's West Ham's style just yet. The early signs have to an extent given fans the jitters. Carlton Cole and John Carew will always invite lofted hoofs, rather than subtle through balls and it turns out Kevin Nolan is not Andres Iniesta. However, Sam Baldock's presence in attack offers hope that not all possesional play will obstruct the London City Airport flight paths, we look disconcertingly defensively solid and posses a midfield short of pace but not quality.

The unlikely marriage of Big Sam and West Ham could yet work. We may barge our way back up to the top table and tread water. Our curious mix of giants and paceless ball players may even bully their way into Europa League contention (please God no) but we'll always be a little envious of a manager like Gus Poyet. The feeling that somewhere north of the Midlands, a Network Rail Board Committee meeting is lacking its chairman may be hard to shake off completely.

Follow Rich on Twitter here.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great piece!

"Sam Allardyce, on the other hand, would be a middle management Rail professional." Pure gold!

Looking forward to what will hopefully be a great game and admittedly worried / jealous of how Brighton are playing this season.

Could you convince Mr Abbott to begin blogging about West Ham full time please? For such a well supported club, 95% of our bloggers are nothing but an embarrassment!