Sunday, 4 March 2007

The Widening Gyre

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

There's nothing like a positive news story on the morning of one of the biggest games of your season, and sure enough, Jamie Jackson's expose in The Observer is nothing like a positive news story. A cockney Deep Throat from inside the dressing room has revealed a culture of reckless high-stakes gambling is causing division within West Ham and rupturing morale to such an extent that the first-team squad, already riven by cliques, is 'spiralling out of control' - and the players, manager and directors already know that they can do nothing to stop the club being relegated.

Meanwhile, Jason Burt in the Independent focuses on Curbishley's mountain- strapline: Ten weeks in, 10 games to go and the West Ham manager sees the enormity of the crisis. It reports the visit of some bailiffs to West Ham last week as a corollary of the moral bankruptcy of the club. In truth, the debt collectors in question were actually at the training ground on Monday to claim the £800 Carlton Cole owes for non-payment of the London Congestion Charge. If it's indicative of anything, then it's that Carlton is not the sharpest tool (or striker) in the box.

There's a rare piece of pro-West Ham sentiment in the Telegraph with Patrick Barclay claiming that if West Ham are guilty (of infringing league rules over the transfers of Tevez and Mascherano) , so are the Premier League. He asks what will the Premier League suspect next? That rain is wet? The gradual dawn of a notion that there might have been something questionable about the deals is hard to credit. If Premier League officials really did not know that the registration of at least one of the players was partly owned by a third party, they were all but alone. The BBC and everyone else had broadcast it throughout the land and newspapers aired the shameless boasts of Kia Joorabchian, the entrepreneur who had dealt with West Ham's erstwhile chairman, Terry Brown. Yet the Premier League - and the FA - waved the deal through. If West Ham are guilty of endangering the game's integrity, so are the Premier League and FA. Yet who administers the administrators?

Intriguingly, Stewart Robson offers a Derridaesque deconstruction of the languor inflicting our current squad. He suggests that under severe pressure all footballers' flaws will become prominent. Even when a player has matured and developed his game, his frailties will reappear at crucial moments if not fully focused. The best players overcome them. Lesser players allow them to escalate. He argues that having watched West Ham this season it is obvious that several players cannot cope mentally with the pressure, concluding that the misplaced arrogance and self-belief of last year has been replaced by fear, insecurity and a realisation that many of them are not of Premiership standard.

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