West Ham have a new hero. A midfielder with such skill – and passion – that he ranks with the greats of our club. I’m talking midfield creatives here, so the World Cup 66 trio aren’t involved. We are talking about Trevor Brooking, Alan Devonshire, Paolo di Canio, Joe Cole.
And I’m talking now about Dimitri Payet.
In the summer the club finally got rid of Sam Allardyce as manager. The anti-football, percentage man. Keeps you in the top division, yes, but kills the joy of the game. Of course we all love to win. But football is also about the excitement, the beauty, the creativity; marvelling at superb systems of play but also moments of individual inspiration. Our new manager, Slaven Bilic, understands that, believes it, and is also an ex-West Ham player. He understands and respects the West Ham way, which Big Sam never did.
And Dimitri Payet epitomises that way. The sheer joy of the game. Skill which is a good in itself, as well as a huge contribution to the team. Some of his moves this season have been truly audacious. His free kicks and set pieces generally are so precise, dangerous, that we have confidence that there may be a goal at any moment. And he tracks back, fights hard for the team. The fans have really taken to him. He is the symbol of the new era, the optimism, as we look forward to playing at the Olympic Stadium next season.
I can say that I haven’t been more excited by a West Ham player since the emergence of the young Joe Cole. Sadly he went to Chelsea, had some of the inventiveness knocked out of him to fit in with the Mourinho system, and never really fulfilled his immense potential, although he was still an outstanding player. Payet is a different case. He is 28 already. We bought him from Marseille. He had a bit of a reputation as a bad boy, a bit inconsistent. Neither has been evident at the Irons. He has quickly become the man around which most of the team’s play revolves. When he was injured, early this year, the team dipped, although they did well to hold on to draws, if not wins. Being West Ham, we still have bad games, but more than for a long time, we are bossing other teams – and entertaining. West Ham fans are happy again!
Our big fear, of course, is now that the biggest clubs will come calling, offering to increase his wages hugely. My hope is that, because he is 28 already, they may not be so keen. Also that he will realise that, as the top man at West Ham, and now our best-ever-paid player, he will be central to the team in the way that he could never be at Man Utd, City, Arsenal, Chelsea.
Fingers crossed, because, after two-thirds of the season Dimitri Payet is already a legend!
Golly. Good tribute, John, and very well expressed. Almost poetic!
It’s difficult to argue with what you say, though whether he is up there with the Brookings is perhaps debatable. He’s certainly having a cracking season.
As you say, disaster or disappointment always lurks – and in fact in several areas: a transfer, long-term injury, or even simple loss of form. Factors two and three can never be managed, but, yes, the mag magnates must do all they can to keep him there, and Bilic to continue to place him at the heart of the team.
Form is the most mysterious thing, and probably affects creative midfielders more than most. Take your pick from the current crop – Ramsey, Oscar, Cazorla, Carrick, Coutinho, Barkley – and in every case you have a player who can easily blow cold as well as hot. Payet might simply go off the boil – but at the moment, like Mahrez, he seems pretty unstoppable.
Make the most of it! But in case you think I’m being too compliant, I still think you’ll end up 11th.
Celebrating the moment of course. But as a West Ham fan it’s good to have something to celebrate. 6th and FA Cup Winners this season… not betting on that by the way!
Hyperbole…. genius and legend! He’s had a few good games for a moderate team. I watched the whole game when you failed to score against 10 man Southampton and he was pretty ordinary.
Messi is a genius and legend… Payet is not on the same planet.
I think Bilic should also work on his iambic pentameters to convey the significance of Winston Reid.
Lots of love
Ever the pragmatist! You would never have supported the 70s Chelsea. The Mourinho version was perfect. Of course I wouldn’t compare Payet with Messi, except perhaps for his dead ball technique. But he is a West Ham legend already. To describe the importance of Winston Reid it would be brick-laying lessons for Slav?
70s Chelsea a bit overrated, especially late in the decade. Forest beat them 6-0 in 1979. Must be a video somewhere……
ANY comparison with Messi is dangerous. You’ve cursed him. Expect to see Payet crocked, out for the season, then joining the Blues in the summer.
Overrated yes, but in those early seventies the epitome of flamboyant, entertaining football, though also with its fair share of hard nuts (Webb, Harris et al). Just no way DC could like them, especially as he probably supported Leeds by default in the classic 1970 FA Cup final, being a West Yorkie.
I did quite like the late 60s /early 70s Chelsea- saw them beat Hudders at Leeds Road in 67 in t’Cup (we got 36,000 crowd that day). Was chatting to Tommy Baldwin at the Bridge the other day- he recalled playing in that game!
But you are right John I was rooting for Dirty Leeds in the epic 70 final and was gutted when they got done.
The man sure has made a difference. But ‘legend’, “genius”?
In a West Ham context, yes!
just watched wham v sunderland. awful. even payet was dull.
Dipped in and out myself. couldn’t bear to watch last 15 minutes – was convinced we’d concede. Still, up to 5th, at least until 4.55pm.
Alright then! Go Dimitri!!! Go West Ham!!!
Now you have got the right idea!