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The West Ham Way

Thursday 12th January 2012
There have been two things recently that have made me think about the whole ethos of West Ham and where I stand on the great debate: do we want football the 'West Ham Way' or do we want consistent good performances and ultimately Premier League 'invincibility' - if that does exist.

The first thing that brought this to my mind was seeing Di Canio's comments after Swindon beat Wigan:

"My lads today deserve something from the club - to do something and put their names in the stadium forever," said Italian Di Canio.

"I don't want a big statue. Maybe just a small plaque with all their names."

(BBC Sport)

Now, I know other fans may dislike Paolo for his political views but for me, a youngster during his halcyon days at the Boleyn he holds near deity status. My mind leapt forwards I was dreaming of Paolo, after cutting his teeth elsewhere, coming back to Upton Park. Surely, free flowing, entertaining football would come with him and then (oh my mind did wander - remember 'Fortunes always hiding...') surely cups, leagues and accolades.

Then I thought again and I wondered if the little boy who watched him round Barthez was gripping the mind of the 'sensible adult' he had become. At the end of the day, my sober mind said, we are joint top at the moment and look like we can keep up the momentum.

I pushed these dreams from my mind and settled into the rest of my weekend. However, after our result and the shenanigans at the Etiad I decided to tune in (does anyone do that anymore) to 606. Where, aside from the dictatorial dronings of Alan Green, I heard a West Ham fan talking about 'football the West Ham Way'.

The chap, who did have an interesting point, was arguing that in appointing Big Sam we had made a mistake. He doesn't give us the swashbuckling and entertaining football that we crave and that, the caller felt, we should have stuck with Zola.

The caller argued that although we would go up this season we had lost West Ham's entertaining style and this was a sacrifice too far.

I can see this point of view and to a certain extent I agree with it. We have changed - of that there is no argument. However, personally I am willing to sacrifice this and, to steal a phrase from 'across the pond' - 'play the long game'. Get to the Premier League, consolidate (properly this time) then change the manager. Bring someone in with flair, passion and a knowledge of the West Ham Way. Someone like...I don't know...Di Canio.

What we mustn't do is cry that we've lost the West Ham Way. We can't play that way against most of the teams in this division; we must just concentrate on getting points even if it is the ugly (long ball) way. Furthermore, we've still got the young players coming through who saw the likes of Di Canio and who know what we're about.

We must now be patient and accept that we'll get out of this division by 'hook or by crook'. Then who knows, in a little while maybe a certain Italian might be calling for plaques up and down Green Street...or 'Olympic Way'... but we'll save that debate for another day, eh?!
Jack Kirby

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