Heavy defeats at Swansea and at home to Burnley were followed by a comfortable 3-0 victory over Southampton, how will March go down in the history of West Ham United?
Emily Pulham: Interesting that you used the phrase ‘go down’. I don’t think we’ll remember the teams we played, or the goals we conceded, or even the goals we scored. We will remember the unrest. We will remember the pitch invasions. The March we remember will be the protest march that never was.
Lucy Woolford: It’ll forever be recorded as a ‘weird one’. There’s not always a case for an international break, but this one seemed to give the squad a chance to regroup and the fans a chance to move on from the unpleasant scenes of the Burnley fixture. The Southampton game saw everyone coming together and hopefully the story of the season will be completed with a strong finish.
Meirion Williams: March has to go down as one of our poorest on record but not just for the results on the field but also the PR disaster off it. We ended the month with a great result but the performances earlier in the month were simply embarrassing.
Brian Penn: This month will stand out more for the crowd trouble during the Burnley game. It was a low spot in the club’s recent history. The win against Southampton was a great result but came against poor opposition. It won’t mean anything unless we build on this result. This is the month we gave ourselves a chance of avoiding relegation – nothing more, nothing less.
MW: I see Andy Carroll as simply an impact substitute and have done for a while. I would prefer to see Hernandez partner Arnie up front and then Carroll come on late against a tiring defensive unit. As for off loading him in the summer, yes but only if the money is reinvested in the playing staff.
BP: With such an important run-in we can’t risk starting him; he’ll be nowhere near match fit. You can blame the manager, coach, physios and doctors for his general level of fitness but he just hasn’t taken proper care of himself. I agree with Meirion and Emily, we should try and off-load him in the summer, but honestly who would want him? We reportedly tried to sell him to Chelsea but understandably they only wanted him on loan. Nobody wants a crock.
EP: I have concerns over this. It’s the same injury over and over again and while I can remember what he looks like in a West Ham shirt, it’s difficult to recall the last time I saw him put in a proper shift in one. He’s not match fit – not even close – and gone are the days when he relentlessly drove the ball down the pitch and cut it back perfectly in the box. I hope he recovers, I really do – but I equally hope his fitness improves.
LW: It’s hard to think of too many examples of players who have had ‘one-off’ seasons where they’ve been hampered by injuries. He’s very unlucky and maybe he was rushed back into action to face the Saints before he was really ready. I’m very sorry to say it, but I think he might just be one of those unfortunate players who can’t keep fit and well.
MW: I agree with Emily, Antonio worries me. He could have a great future at the club but he seems unsettled. On his return he scored two goals but at no time did he celebrate with his team mates. He seems to be isolated and I wonder if this nagging injury is more mental, as Julian Dicks has said about some of today’s footballers, rather than a physical one.
BP: I don’t think it’s the beginning of the end for Antonio. Yes, he’s had a poor season and been plagued, mainly, by a hamstring injury. It happens. Time will tell whether it’s a one-off or indicates a deeper problem. Let’s give him time to recover and take medical advice on the injury then we’ll see. He’s too important a player to discard because of a niggling injury.
This month ends with games against Arsenal and Manchester City, do you have any confidence that we will pick up point
EP: Have you seen Manchester City this season?!
LW: I know Southampton were a poor team to play against but a win’s a win and it spreads confidence throughout the squad, the fans and the management. Obviously, we need to pull together a better run of form than one win, but I feel more positive about results to come than I did a few weeks ago. We’ll at least win one of them and I think I know which!
MW: It all depends on which West Ham turns up. I personally do not think we will get anything against Arsenal but can see a draw against City. They will already have wrapped up the league and will be looking to rest players. But then again City’s reserves are probably better than a lot of our starters. I would be happy with just a solitary point from both those games as long as we beat Stoke.
BP: Manchester City will have secured the Premier League title by then. Similarly, Arsenal will be focussing on the Europa League as a means of qualifying for the Champions League. Yes, I’m clutching at straws hoping they’ll be distracted by more important matters. But seriously, if we take one point from those two games I’ll be pleased.
What was your take of the headline figures from our accounts?
EP: I was frustrated, but I don’t think there was anything in there I found surprising. There is a lack of financial investment that is painfully visible on the pitch.
LW: It just confirms my long-standing belief that football is a business, not for the fans. There’s money aplenty for transfers and the club should be spending, or rather investing, available funds on improving the squad to fit the magnitude of the stadium and the dream, not moving sideways. It’s frustrating but not surprising.
MW: It was no real surprise regarding director loans, interest charged and our transfer savings. What did surprise me was the total revenue from the sale of the Boleyn Ground and I am still at a loss over the missing £10 million from that sale.
BP: We are the world’s 17th richest football club as per Deloitte’s Football Money League published in January 2018. That is a fact. We are richer than Napoli and within shouting distance of Inter Milan. This has been due mainly to the increase in broadcast and matchday revenue following the move to Stratford. Profits stand at £43 million and net debts have been reduced by £21 million. We are in reasonable shape; let’s argue about the detail later.