In the good old days, East Enders marching on the Palace would bring to mind images of passion, fury and threat. The mind might turn to the Peasant's Revolt and the King meeting the common yobs at Mile End. Angry faces, combative voices, clenched fists...it all sounds right up Doctor Evil's street.
But West Ham were always the aristocratic gentlemen of football on the pitch of course. Yes we had Bonds and Dicks but we also had Moore and Brooking and Hurst and Peters and Devonshire.
And there is the rub, there is the problem. At the moment, we are in a no man's land, trapped between Allardyce's instincts and urges, and the heritage of the club. There are mutterings about the long ball, but the long ball was in evidence under Curbishley, Zola and Grant. You use it when you can't pass the ball forward. And from what I have seen, Sam Pot's team are using it in roughly equal measure with the sides of his predecessors because his team are just as technically incompetent.
What is most worrying is the lack of passion, the lack of fury, the lack of ire. Never mind long ball, what Allardyce is famous for is instilling aggression into his teams. But where is the fire in this team? Where is the passion? Where is the drive? Where is the hunger? Where is the aggression?
I hear from his supporters that Nolan is a great captain because he challenges the officials. Fcuk challenging the officials, let's start challenging the bloody opposition. This team is still meek, it is still timid, it is still fragile.
Ignoring Piquionne's pathetic red card, we have collected just 11 yellows in 9 league games this season. Where is the Doctor Evil imprint on that stat exactly? Bolton collected six or seven in a single game sometimes. But West Ham don't play that way do they, West Ham don't get angry, West Ham is the Academy. Bollocks.
Ask West Ham fans to name the all time club greats and Bonds, Dicks and Martin will feature in most list and those guys were not shrinking violets. Frank Lampard senior got stuck in, Repka hit and hurt, Cross took no prisoners, Stewart wasn't adverse to clattering a nippy winger, Konchesky bruised a few opponents along the way, Pike was combative, so was Parker...and we could go on.
It is as if Allardyce is afraid of his own shadow, as if he is trying to prove that he can play the game another way, the West Ham way. Well recent performances suggest he can't. It is time to get nasty. It is time to let the dogs out. It is time to intimidate and hurt the opposition. It is time to turn the Boleyn into a castle, brutally defended and intimidating to opponents in the same way as the Reebock scared the pants off of Wenger's aristocratic Norman invaders. It is time to hit and run on the road, to smash up the opposition, to use our superior skill sure, but to earn the right to do so by cowering the opposition in the first place.
There is no attritional instinct in this team; no that's wrong, there is no attritional instinct in our club. The fans boo but the fans don't get angry. Within ten minutes of the final whistle, there is a sublime confidence that another disappointing result and performance doesn't matter because it is sure to come right in the end. Well there are no guarantees of that. To win, we have to scrap!
So today I want West Ham to come out fighting. Five yellows and a 2-0 victory would suit me down to the ground. Cole must get angry. Noble must tackle like he did when he took out Pires (?) on the touchline that time and when he intimidated Sunderland into submission at Upton Park with real blood and thunder tackles (under Zola). If Taylor plays, I want him nasty. Nolan needs to get stuck in. Bentley needs to bite not pose. Perhaps Diop should play by way of a statement. Let's see McCartney and O'Brien carry an opponent into the advertising boards when they make a tackle on the touchline.
It's time for Doctor Evil to be true to his instincts. It's time to smash up the Palace!