It’s been a few days now since the bombshell, and I thought I’d express my personal thoughts, with the help of some gifs from the TV show Castle.
Thursday, January 12, 2017 began like most weekdays for me. I booted up my computer for work, and while I’m waiting for everything to load and/or open, I browsed West Ham news on my phone (there’s usually bit of that accumulated as I’m in the Central time zone, 6 hours behind England).
The first few headlines were transfer rumors and speculations, and then I see the link to Bilić’s pre-match conference. I don’t always watch these, but on this day I did. I started the video and then shifted my focus to my computer, so was only half paying attention, and then I swear my brain did a sudden record scratch and I started it over, giving it my full attention. My initial reaction was stunned silence.
I wanted so badly to not believe it, but there Bilić was, spelling it out plainly for us. Here, I also have to add how much I appreciate Bilić giving it to us straight up, no flowery or vague PR bullshit. Respect to Slav, big time. I watched that video three times in a row. I absorbed the details, noting Bilic’s demeanor. I dare anyone to try and say Bilic is not devoted to this team; the raw emotion was tangible. This player, to whom Bilic, the team, the board have given every advantage, preferential treatment, the highest wages in the club’s history, has chosen to shit all over all of them, not only demanding they let him leave after less than a year into his 5 year contract, but also refusing to play for us. Refusing to play!
My first tweet about the matter calmly stated my disappointment. How could he do this to the fans who revere and worship him so devotedly? My next tweet was a Re-Tweet a of Payet’s from last January, about how he was proud to wear the shirt of West Ham and that his future is here for many years. I appealed that I didn’t want to hate him, but I was worried it might be to late to avoid. Logically I knew what he was doing was a disgrace and a complete dick-move, even if I wasn’t emotionally ready for a sudden 180 in opinion for someone I held in very high regard. Even though this season has had more cringe-worthy moments than not, we had Payet. The man was a free kick merchant. We had Payet! He was a genius who created more chances than anyone else in the Premier League. We had Payet!! And we just didn’t think anyone understood. Turns out it was us that didn’t understand.
I had to switch my focus to work for a while, and later spent some time reading other news stories and discussing things with others on Twitter. I posted a tweet surmising that Noble must be feeling heartbroken, given the Bromance that had existed between the two. Betrayal on professional and multiple personal levels. It was just too much. I’ll admit I addressed these tweets to Payet’s twitter handle…I knew perfectly well there would be no response, it just made me feel a little better somehow. I posted another tweet, one last solemn rendition of the first line of the song his fans lovingly created for him (accompanied by a gif of Dean Winchester stoically crying) and with that I mourned and let go that which I thought I had, and accepted the new reality.
And then I just got mad.
In hindsight, maybe I should’ve regarded his douchey cars and how he dressed in outfits that cost more than my mortgage payment and which made him look like a tool, but I felt I was just being judgemental (what do I know about European fashion, anyway?) and told myself these superficial things didn’t define him as a person. For this, I was irritated at myself.
More info came out throught the day, some elaborations of details we already knew, some new tidbits. Pay raise demands, unprofessional attitude towards his training and teammates, a £1 million loyalty bonus to keep him here through the end of the season, refusing to sign autographs for children, and a hint of a rumor of why he might be separated from his wife…
We learned his wife and family have already moved to France and that appears to be why he seems hell bent to go specifically to Marseilles. I understand one has to do what they have to do for their family. It would even be admirable, IF he hadn’t gone about it in the most unprofessional and disrespectful way. I think anyone would be hard pressed to betray their club and the fans who worship him so thoroughly and instantly. It’s almost like he made himself a challenge to see how fast he could fall from hero to zero.
Some claim he’s at least partially justified because of the promises made to him by the board that didn’t ever come to fruition. Myself, I think that’s in no way an acceptable justification for this course of action.
The backlash from the fans came, and it came HARD. There’d been speculation from some that he was unhappy and wanted to leave, but had you told me on Jan 11th that I would feel such revulsion, there’s no way I would’ve believed it. In the following days, I’ve heard the sentiment that West Ham fans are the worst in the country when they turn against you, and it is true. It wasn’t long until his Wiki page had been ‘corrected’ by angry fans (mostly changing facts to snake references). Videos of fans denouncing him, throwing his jerseys out the window, the most ardent supporters admitting they had loved him but have lost all respect and sadly changing their Payet-centric social media profiles, all within hours of Bilić’s interview. Those with Payet jerseys post the ‘corrections’ made, many to turn them into Reid jerseys. There was even a musical cartoon video that made me laugh SO hard. I myself included in every post, reply and retweet, the hashtag #SuckItPayet. I was hoping it might catch on, but…well, I just don’t have that much influence on Twitter. Countless new renditions of his song (ranging in cleverness and intensity) flooded my feed.
Bilić’s position in the interview was that they are not going to sell him in this transfer window. Many people’s opinion seems to be we should just sell him, make as much money as we can get and just be done with the ungrateful bag-o-dicks. Logically, I know this does make sense…
…but when I feel wronged, I get vindictive and spiteful. I say NO WAY should he get his way after his deplorable behavior. That sets a terrible precident. Fine him for not appearing and let him rot in the reserves until such time as he acts with some goddamned integrity and works his way back to the first team and grovels and begs for the fans’ forgiveness. Which, honestly, has only a slim chance of redeeming him if it’s at all possible at this point.
From all the upheaval, a curious side effect has taken place…the fans on social media are more united than I’ve ever seen them. And in consideration about the match about to take place, the exclusion of Payet from the game has the potential of also bonding the team and inspiring a strong unified front. Support is rallied for other players to take this opportunity to shine. I was still wary about the upcoming game, but cautiously optimistic about this newfound solidarity.
Match Day. My match day experience varies quite a bit from those in England. I roll out of bed with just enough time to throw on my jersey and check the starting lineup before kickoff. It’s 9am here, I’m not drinking nor am I with a group of other supporters (there are a few Hammers in my area but we can only meet up when a match starts late enough for bars to be open). My husband watches with me, but I am far more engaged than he is.
The first half passes with mediocrity, 0-0 at halftime. Yes, I’m nervous. But Super Slav makes a substitution and formation change which proves to be the exact thing we need. Things are much more competitive and finally, Feghouli scores his goal.
The intensity continues and soon Andy Carroll blows everyone’s minds with that screamer of a bicycle kick. I believe my exact expression was, “Holy Shit!”
I am downright giddy at this point, as we have a comfortable lead and the end of the game is quickly approaching. Then, Lanzini, that adorable jewel, makes his run and amazing chip over the goalkeeper to float neatly into the net. His celebration jump into the stands was worth the yellow, no question.
The match ends, and the celebration is rampant on Twitter. Every other tweet is “Payet Who?” Players, staff and board members express barely veiled jabs at Payet in their praises of the virtues of working as a team and that no player is greater than the club. And of course, I’m repeatedly including my new favorite catchphrase, “Suck it Payet”, in anything I post.
As I write this, it is Sunday night. The question on my mind is, what is going to happen on Monday? Will Payet show up for training or continue acting like a petulant, spoiled child? I have no sympathy for whatever befalls him now. Payet can suck a corner flag for all I care.