West Ham and Rooney get Hammered

Published: Monday, 26 September 2016

After six games last season West Ham were in the top 3 - and my  suggestion that their fans 'should be careful what they wish for' wasn't looking too accurate. Many a Hammer would regularly, and quite rightly, point out how well Slaven Bilic had taken to life as a coach in the P Lge and that my fears weere considerably wide of the mark.

After six games this season West Ham are in the bottom three and my warnings don't look quite so daft do they?

Look, I have no desire to open up old wounds with West Ham fans and I genuinely don't like to see the club struggle - it's a fine club that's contributed hugely to the English game down the years, especially for those of us of a certain vintage - Moore, Peters and Hurst were all heroes of mine.

What always disappointed me about the modern West Ham fan was how ungrateful he/she was to Big Sam. Hands up - Sam is a mate so of course I'll defend him wherever and whenever I feel I have to. I first got close to him back in 2008 when I worked in Qatar for the first time and he was hugely supportive of me and Andy when we were tucked up by Sky. Aren't you supposed to be loyal to good friends? I thought that was unwritten law in the East End - perhaps more so than anywhere else in London?

Sam didn't just save West Ham at the most needy point in their history, he first settled and then built the club back into a P Lge outfit. Bilic has never been shy of making that point. Sam made last season possible.

In warning that Hammers fans 'should be careful what they wish for' I was making the point that the old fashioned belief that their team should always play the 'West Ham' way was outdated and dangerous. You simply can't play 'nice' football in our league anymore.

Bilic, who I like enormously - he's a real football man, both knew last season and knows now that there is no such thing as the 'West Ham way' anymore. I pointed out last season, that before Christmas, the percentage of long balls West Ham played was up from 18% to 23%. Not my stats - Opta's.

In the last minute on Sunday I saw Antonio chucking a long throw into the box. Most Hammers fans would've missed this because they'd already left the stadium, but is they 'West Ham way'? The throw very nearly did its job though.

Last season the Hammers were brilliant and I said so on many occasions. Payet was sublime. Any football fan must've enjoyed his contribution to their season.

This time around they're a shadow of themselves. So is Payet. Perhaps he's struggling at the moment after all the excesses of the past 12 months, but right now he looks like a player that wants to be elsewhere. West Ham need him again - and fast.

I don't believe the Hammers will struggle all season. They're not as bad as their results have been so far but nor were they as good as results were last season.  The truth is that they're somewhere in between - about where Sam left them.  

The crisis at Old Trafford appears to be over! I said last week that I didn't believe Mourinho wouldn't sort things out. He hasn't yet, but Saturday was obviously much better. Or was it?

I thought they looked nervous for 20 mins. Goals change games and their opener did just that. Mata was terrific and helped put the game to bed before half time. A good job too, because Leicester had the better of the second half.

Were United better without Rooney? No. I'm not having that. I think they were miles better without Fellaini, something which seems to have gone totally un-noticed after all the nonsense surrounding Rooney.

I asked before - what is it with the Rooney-bashers? Why? Why are they so keen to run him out of both Old Trafford and England? I've never understood it. I repeat - the fella is a phenomenon. He's been awesome for club and country. His record speaks for itself. When has he ever complained about a job he's been asked to do for either?

Yes - he's out of sorts just now, but he'll be back. And when he is let's hope he's given just ONE job to do on the pitch. I can tell you, without fear of contradiction, that in the games he's played for United this season his manager has had him perform in a combined 12 different positions - shifting him forwards, back and sideways. Twelve! Rooney has adapted without complaint done what he's been asked, all for the good of the team. Back off him and enjoy him while we still can. We won't see his like again.

I thought it was interesting how Antonio Conte reacted to Chelsea's dismal performance at Arsenal. A warning Antonio - that dressing room won't react positively to criticism. It never has. Ask Villas Boas, Scolari and more recently Mourinho, to name just a few. You can go all the way back to Ranieri. Dennis Wise was in our BeIN Sports studios this weekend. When I made that point he reacted with a wry smile! I said in the summer, if those big ego's at The Bridge thought they were in for an easier time once they'd outed Mourinho then they should think again. Conte is more pedantic, tougher, demanding and he'll upset them. What happens next is going to be very interesting.

Oh. In amongst all the hysteria surrounding Rooney I saw this headline - 'Son proves Spurs don't need Kane'. Really? What a daft statement. They were good at the weekend - but is anyone seriously thinking they won't miss Kane? Believe me, they look able at the minute - but they'll miss Kane all right.