A decent start to the season has certainly changed a few people’s minds regarding how we will fare this season with the summer panic over signings and pre-season results having been long forgotten.
I have mentioned previously that my foray into Twitter has served mainly to frustrate me with so many throwaway comments being made about our prospects yet those same comments are now being transformed into newfound positivity. What this goes to show is just how fickle the football supporter can be (I do not exclude myself from that fact) and how over the last 10-15 years how different following a football club has become. At West Ham we have the systemic problem of booing Great Expectations the team when they are not winning. When I was younger I never recall such actions through the Billy Bonds and Harry Redknapp years. Sure we would lose quite a number of games and had some shocking results but the unity would remain with the support.
Away from home we still have that sort of camaraderie and those players will receive support throughout the entire game yet at Upton Park we have so many supporters wanting to criticise. Now I usually get told “we pay our money, we can say what we want” which for me really isn’t an argument that puts me in my place because we all pay our money. I usually wait until after the game amongst friends to scrutinise the performance and players as I do not see how I am helping anyone (especially myself) to shout a barrage of abuse at the team I’m meant to be supporting.
At half time against Southampton we had some fans booing as it was 0-0. Sure it hadn’t been a scintillating performance but who do these people think they are actually following? Surely as a West Ham fan we must expect to be subjected to a lot of rubbish, otherwise we’d go and support Chelsea. It would seem that the money we now pay to watch football does have relevance to our opinion when viewing games as there seems to be an ‘value for money’ claim which is difficult in football as you are going to get poor games as that is just the way it is.
The point I remember West Ham fans changing was under the reign of Glenn Roeder. In that second season we struggled so badly that it seemed only a change of management would be able to save us but with no dismissal in sight and Roeder not willing to concede defeat we were eventually relegated.
The following season changed the club and to this say things have never been quite the same. Expectation changed and for many younger supporters at the time (like myself) we had not experienced the club outside the top division. The fans expected us to walk the league and it was difficult for us to come to terms that we were not the best team in the league and the group of players we had were not anywhere near the quality of what we once had.
Then the disgruntlement really started and it is an anger that a generation has taken through with them until this day where a poor display will result in wrathful torment from sections of the support. One of the worst examples of this was back in April 2008 when we were losing at home to bottom side Derby County. We won the game 2-1 courtesy of goals from Bobby Zamora and Carlton Cole but as the final whistle went boos rang around the Boleyn. This was a game we had won yet people were still unhappy.
Perhaps this has always been evident amongst football supporters and I am perhaps being naïve to think that this is a new occurrence.
Of course it could be that as I get older I am able to manage my expectations better and nothing that happens at the club surprises me anymore. As long as West Ham exists then I am happy because going to West Ham means a lot more than one particular result. Manchester City are next up and what should our expectations be here? I’m sure if we are losing 2-0 at half time there will be a number of disgruntled people in the West Ham crowd who will be booing and getting on players backs but I suppose my biggest expectation is to expect just that.