With the business side of ownership concluded, the proper business of survival gets underway as we enter the pivotal stage of our season.
Over the next eighteen days we will face most all of our likely relegation contenders, with Bolton following a couple of weeks later.
The fixture congestion created by the adverse weather will largely be resolved in the coming weeks, as crucial games arrive thick and fast – six in all between now and 20th February.
First up is bottom of the table Portsmouth, on the face of it the one club in the league who make our financial predicament positively glow with rosy-cheeked wellbeing.
Pompey are in trouble whichever way you look at it. Not the first club to experience near-meltdown soon after the departure of Harry ‘My Cayman Islands Account Is Down To The Bare Bones’
The transfer window will prove more vital to Portsmouth’s fortunes than to those of any other club, their future dependent upon the shape of the squad come 1st February and whether they can clone ten Hayden Mullins’s to form a functional if unspectacular 'utility' of 'Mullae'.
While it may feel as though they were cast adrift some time ago, Portsmouth are just five points from safety and with at least one game in hand over their immediate rivals. Depending how much transfer damage they can sustain, they will feel they still have a chance of getting out of it.
Pompey have enjoyed some decent results of late and will be desperate to build momentum with a good Tuesday night performance at home. Our plight is equally perilous, on the pitch at least, and I will be sorely disappointed were we to emerge from the game with anything less than a draw.
However, this is a great chance to claim just our second away win of the season and kick-start our own climb up the table.
3. There’s Always Someone Worse Off Than Yourself
Under the stewardship of our one-time Managing Director, Peter Storrie, Portsmouth have lurched from one crisis to the next.
They currently sit under the swinging axe of administration, face a wind-up petition from the Inland Revenue, are in the midst of a transfer embargo, have been reported to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, have had their latest £7million share of TV money redistributed to debtors, have been unable to pay player wages punctually more than once this season, have their CEO on a tax evasion charge, and were recently issued with a writ from Sol Campbell for unpaid bonuses and image-rights payments.
Such is their parlous state, they will listen to offers for any player in January, and fears that they may tumble down the divisions on the back of the erratic mustang of mismanagement bare more credibility with every passing farce.
4. Like Looking In A Mirror
I’ve been racking my brains trying to decide whom Karren Brady reminds me of, and then it hit me: Gary Mason, former British Heavyweight Champion.
Last season’s 4-1 demolition of Portsmouth at Fratton Park was the defining point of our season and the catalyst for a haul of twenty points claimed from an available twenty-four. We could do with the same again.
Craig Bellamy had his best game in a West Ham shirt, scoring two and setting up another. The team performance was all the more impressive as we came from a goal down to win, and topped off nicely by a missed penalty from Defoe.
This victory also represented the first time we had beaten Pompey in the Premier League and it was no coincidence that Redknapp had since left, taking his abiding hoodoo over us to White Hart Lane.
6. Heart For The Fight
There is one particular thing (among many) which needs urgent address: our stark inability to win a game having gone a goal down.
We have managed this feat just three times in the past thirteen months: last year’s corresponding fixture, Stoke City at home the following week and Millwall in the League Cup back in August of last year.
Hopefully the positivity around the new ownership will go some way to adding a mite of resolve to a team who are criminally adept at throwing in the towel when facing a deficit.
There’s no valid reason or excuse for this and it will prove a fatal flaw if perpetuated long(er)-term. Our Vice Chairman once went toe-to-toe with Lennox Lewis, so she should be able to instill the same fight into her charges.
7. Picture Book
8. Capital Gains Pacts
If the new incumbent of our official pulpit was attempting to endear herself to the fans with a clarion call to arms, she is off to a poor start:
“The Boleyn does no more than serve a purpose... To disqualify the (Olympic) stadium's only viable future is to make a bonfire of the dreams of thousands and thousands of people in our under-privileged area... I love the idea of calling the club West Ham Olympic.”
Another media-friendly soundbite associated with our club this week came from Tony Fernandes, who said, “I see West Ham as the unpolished diamond of the Premier League”. Perhaps, but only if you consider our utter dependence on Cole.
Firstly, we know better than any that The Boleyn Ground is not The Emirates Stadium, but to say that it does no more than ‘serve a purpose’ is to dilute the history of the place.
Only an outsider would so coldly deride the venue that has fostered our shattered dreams for so long, played host to a galling litany of frustration punctuated by occasional genius, and proved such an efficient conduit for our gallons of bitter tears.
Does Ms. Brady not remember seeing John Moncur continually rotating on a six-pence? Stuart Slater’s twining splendour against Everton in the Cup? Or Iain Dowie's magnificent 13-month goal drought?
It may not be a monument to success, or indeed happiness, and the halftime toilet stop is a fast-track to lung cancer, but to disparage it in such callous terms two days into the job is a misjudgement.
‘West Ham Olympic’? Fuck right off.
Thankfully, the IOC’s fierce defence of its intellectual property should put pay to such cynically commercial proposals. It was touted as nonchalantly as a housewife saying, “I love the idea of combining all my Nectar points onto one easy-to-use card.”
Please, don’t write in saying that’s sexist. It’s not.
As Brady is so early in the job, this is hopefully just a miscalculation, and even if the ultimate move is a sound long-term proposal, Brady will have to tailor her polished mercantile instincts into more palatable, candid reasoning for spit and sawdust scum like ourselves.
I just hope she’s not the Fergie to our Black Eyed Peas, for while the Black Eyed Peas have undoubtedly gone onto great success after the inclusion of their strangely masculine songstress, they are now a meagre imitation of their prior selves.
Hopefully we will not follow the same route, since they cynically traded what it was that made them entertaining for the glitz and glamour of hollow celebrity, leaving once diehard fans as satisfied as Mark Lawrenson’s wife. Redknapp, the south coast club could prove to be the new Leeds and slide inexorably to resume their rivalry with struggling neighbours Southampton in League One.