Hit | Miss | Sideline: Big Sam making big waves at West Ham
West Ham United have taken to the Premier League almost effortlessly and they had another excellent victory, 4-1, against a naive Southampton at the weekend. Both teams are newly promoted but the difference is that almost all of the West Ham team have considerable top-flight experience and almost all of Southampton’s have none.
The Premier is a very unforgiving league and, whereas you may get away with a mistake in the Championship, the Premier is much more cut-throat. Likewise, when you get a chance in the Premier, you need to take it because you don’t know when the next one is going to come along.
West Ham have experience through their spine, from goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen to Andy Carroll up front. They know what’s needed to get results and, more importantly, how to hang on to them. Southampton are great to watch from a neutral’s point of view because you know they are going to go hell for leather and more than likely score but also concede. It’s a tough learning curve for them and something that they must address quickly.
Sam Allardyce has been there, seen it and done it. Every club he has been at, he has left in a better state than when he joined. In fact, they all seem to have nosedived for a period after he left them. He is a good old-fashioned manager and you can see how popular he is in that players who have played for him have no issues about rejoining him further on in their careers.
“Big Sam” has won over the Upton Park masses after a sticky few early months, in which his footballing style was questioned. In my opinion, football is about winning, not how beautifully you pass the ball. Any team going to Upton Park this season will know that they have been in a battle, with players and fans giving it their all. Yes, there will be blips – like the recent 3-1 home defeat against Arsenal – but, by and large, it’s been a great start for West Ham.
Why all the fuss about the anti-racism T-shirts? What a load of rubbish. If a player – no matter what colour or nationality – doesn’t want to wear a “Kick It Out” T-shirt, then so be it.
By certain players not wearing it, it seems to have brought more attention to the situation, which, in the long run, will surely help. Yes, there have been racist incidents in the recent past in this country, but, compared to most countries around the world, I think we are getting far better as a nation.
If anyone in the future is caught being racist – whether on the pitch or not – let’s set a precedent. Let’s ban any player for, say, two months. Every bit of racism should be treated the same. As well as that, their club should also suffer. I’m not talking about fines, more like a points deduction. It’s a sure way to stop this prehistoric problem. There is no place in today’s society for any of it.
I don’t believe there is much racism in the stands at grounds in this country, simply because people are more aware of equality – regardless of skin colour and, more importantly, as most teams have black players in their ranks. So how pathetic would it be to see some idiot racially abusing another team’s player while his own team has black players?
Everybody has had enough of racism. It’s a disgrace, we all know that, but it’s mostly been stamped out. And if anybody doesn’t want to wear a T-shirt, then so be it. You won’t hear me complaining. It’s just the same as the pre-match handshake. All too politically correct for most people, myself included.
I’m not racist, never have been and never will be. I have many black friends inside and outside the game and I don’t really need to wear a T-shirt to show that. Human nature, suspensions and embarrassment will do better than any T-shirt can ever do.
Chelsea have shown so far this season that they are going to be title contenders and the fixture against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday is a mouth-watering prospect. With the likes of Oscar, Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and the rejuvenated Fernando Torres, along with a strong back-four unit, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
It’s amazing how the contrasting styles of management, in Roberto Di Matteo and Andre Villas-Boas, can have such different effects with a very similar squad.