Saturday, 10 March 2018

West Ham fans discontent with the board explodes off the pitch, contributing to a 3-1 defeat at home to Burnley

West Ham 0-3 Burnley

This game was noteworthy more for the action off the pitch, than on.

The game began with an emotional tribute to the late great Bobby Moore, who died 25 years ago. But by the 70th minute, things had unravelled, with  a full scale revolt against the clubs owners underway.

Several thousand fans turned their backs to the pitch and focused their anger toward the directors box, angrily calling for the owners and board to step down.

The tension rose further  as Burnley added a third goal, with things only beginning to calm down once the club’s owners David Gold and David Sullivan had left the directors box. Sir Trevor Brooking left alone to placate the seething masses.

The game began brightly enough for the home side, with Joao Mario setting Marko Arnautovic away, only to see his shot blocked by Burnley keeper Nick Pope.

Manuel Lanzini was later foiled by the impressive Pope.

The troubles started for the home side 20 minutes into the second half when a long ball from the back, saw substitute Chris Wood get in front of Angelo Ogbonna to neatly cross for the incoming Ashley Barnes to crash the ball home.

The goal was a signal for a fan to come onto the pitch, prompting an angry Mark Noble to make a lunge to apprehend him. The protester proved difficult to stop, only being finally apprehended as he tried to get back into the stand.

The disruption  though badly effected the West Ham players concentration because within a minute Burnley added to their lead. Barnes pass across the area to Johann Berg Gudmundsson who in turn found Wood, who finished the move.

The final goal saw a Gudmundsson drive spilled by Joe Hart to the predatory Wood who finished easily.

West Ham manager David Moyes would not be drawn on the off the pitch troubles, suffice to say that fans must not cross the line onto the pitch.

He acknowledged that the fan coming onto the pitch decisively impacted on the result, with his side going two down within the minute.

Moyes felt his side failed to take their chances and paid the price. “We are going to certainly have to defend better. We have attacking players, who can score but certainly didn’t today. Some players were not at their best,” said Moyes, who admitted it was Hart’s mistake that cost the third goal.

The manager called on the fans and everyone at the club to pull together. He admitted if the team had won the game the off the field activities would probably not have happened.

“I don’t know all the politics of West Ham but the majority of the time I have been here I have enjoyed it, not the last couple of weeks though,” said Moyes.

Burnley manager Sean Dyche told how being proactive from the bench had worked for him in the last two games. “You find different ways of winning,” said Dyche.

*West Ham fans turn on Gold and Sullivan - published in Morning Star, 12/3/2018

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