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Roker Ramble: Owner approaches referee armed with a loaded gun!

From Stratford to Greece, the workers prove they have nothing to lose but their chains. Elsewhere, Mark Hughes’ face has been frozen in place since the 90s and Mourinho rubs shoulders with only the most reputable Russian media outlets. It’s time for the Roker Ramble!

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There are three things in life that I know I’ll never be on the same wavelength as: Country music, Tory politics and West Ham supporters.

I wake up bathed in sweat from nightmares where I’m trapped in a lift with Sir Trevor Brooking, who’s whistling the Kenny Rogers back catalogue. I just don’t get West Ham supporters - I’ve known a few, met a few more, seen them in action and we have nothing in common.

West Ham United v Burnley - Premier League
“You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em.”
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

So the pitchforks were out at the London Boleyn Upton Park Olympic London Stadium at the weekend in what must be said were fairly distasteful scenes as the peasants rose up against their alleged oppressors. Now, I don’t know the ins and outs - but on the face of it - what’ve they really got to complain about?

They got an (almost) brand new 60,000 capacity stadium, four miles from their old 35,000 capacity stadium – for nothing! Off the bloody shelf, whilst Spurs and Chelsea have to go to the time and considerable expense of actually building theirs from scratch.

And so what if the seats are a ‘long way from the pitch’ - just buy a pair of glasses! You’re not exactly sitting on the touchline at Wembley and it doesn’t seem to have done Spurs much harm.

If this distance is the extent of your problems, then you haven’t got many problems.

I agree that the directors aren’t the most savoury, and I read somewhere that they’re each pulling £16 million a year out of the club which, if true, is outrageous, but it doesn’t justify frightening kids at the game, hurling missiles at your own supporters and making throat-slashing gestures to the directors box.

If the team were pushing for a European place there would be none of this, but the problem is that which has dogged a lot of clubs - poor business in recent transfer windows and a manager whose questionable facial expressions are a direct result of having his head up his own backside for much of the time.

West Ham United v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

The probable end result of this is that the response of the supporters is going to have a negative impact on the team, and if they get relegated – who will they blame?

And whilst the West Ham faithful were building bridges and making friends, fans in Lille -themselves facing relegation - streamed onto the pitch in an attempt to attack their own players. Held back by stewards and police they chanted at the owner;

If we go down, we’ll take you down.

Not a lot of love there then either, but positively oozing with the milk of human kindness compared to Greece, where the Russian oligarch owner of PAOK Salonika marched onto the pitch twice carrying a gun, where he tried to confront the referee and officials after a last minute goal for his side was disallowed.

My only aim was to protect tens of thousands of PAOK fans from provocation, riots and casualties.

Thanks to his altruistic quick thinking the Greek Super League has been suspended indefinitely, and he’s been offered political asylum in Salisbury.

It’s only bloody football at the end of the day, and I don’t agree with Bill Shankly, it’s really not more serious than life and death. Sure that’s a catchy quote, but when you have players afraid to play, supporters afraid to attend matches or turning on each other, then it’s all got out of hand.

Liverpool v Oldham Athletic - FA Cup Third Round
I doubt Shankly would’ve anticipated that his romanticism of football would be refuted by a Russian bloke and his firearm.
Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

I don’t know what the answer is, but automatically relegating West Ham would send me down to Tory HQ with a donation whilst singing ‘Islands in the Stream’ with a smile on my face.

Not smiling this week, nor any other week prior to that, is Mauricio Pellegrino - he’s been let go by Southampton in a blatant attempt to corner the available managers market before West Brom finally wake up to find that Alan Pardew is still in charge. Fortunately for Pellegrino, he still has the family’s sparkling water business to fall back on before a job comes up in the Spanish second division.

As an aside, if you poured sparkling fizzy water into a Dyson hand drier could you recreate the start-of game bubble scenes from West Ham matches? May well try it at work tomorrow and let you know.

Meanwhile Southampton, in contrast to the rather cold, unfeeling, uninspiring Pellegrino, are rumoured to be looking to the flamboyant Mr Motivator himself Mark Hughes to reclaim their Premier League status for the last nine games of the season.

Hughes, who last smiled in 1994 when under anaesthetic, is seen as just the man to restore their fortunes. Personally I’d put all my efforts into getting Charlie Austin back on the field from wherever he’s been hiding, he’ll keep them up by himself.

Coventry City v Stoke City - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round
Beaming from temple to temple.
Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

And with Russian oligarchs all over the news, and the World Cup head of steam starting to build, it’s definitely the year of the Russian. Not to be outdone, Jose Mourinho has signed up with the Russian TV Channel ‘RT’ as a pundit for the World Cup. However you have to wonder why when it turns out that not only has the channel had to register as a ‘foreign agent’ (i.e. a ‘spy’) in the US but has been labelled as a;

Spreader of deceitful propaganda.

By none other than the French President. Oh, and they have no rights to show any of the games whatsoever.

Surely Jose could’ve walked into any of the major TV networks and displayed whatever brand of fashionable knitwear he liked on any sofa of his choice? Yes, but you have to understand, he’s only working for the first four days of the World Cup, and has promised to phone in (literally) with his thoughts for the final. For which he’ll get paid a reported £1.7 million. Nice. I hope for that he breaks into a smile every now and again.

Quote of the Day;

Ref booked Sanchez Watt for kicking the ball away. Asked him three times what his name was, replied three times: ‘What.’ Booked him for dissent, then sent him off. Called the captain over who explained his name was actually Watt, then reversed the decision. Unbelievable scenes.

Could only happen at Hemel Hempstead as they beat East Thurrock 2-0. Surprised it didn’t invoke a pitch invasion. Although perhaps it did and no-one noticed.

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