Now where do we begin? Not with Safs – that can wait for another day.
West Wam. Stan doesn't want to be overly negative based on one match, and a friendly at that, but whilst the Hammers were busy blowing bubbles, Stan was in the midst of bursting his. And boy-oh-boy did it go pop…
Stan has sexed up the positives of the last month or so and has even tried to spin positively the negatives. But it is when those 11 yellow shirted players cross that yellow line, in something resembling serious action, that reality bites.
OK the score-line was ultimately respectable, but this shouldn't disguise the fact that but for some poor finishing and a touch of inspired keeping we would have been 5-0 down at half time?And that isn't an exaggeration. New season, same old problems!
Admittedly Brellier and Smith, to mention nothing of Hucks, were missing thus depriving us of an air of quality, but this still doesn't disguise the fact that fundamental problems continues to lay at the back. At centre-back, to be more precise.
Since the Malky-Flem pairing was wrenched apart in the summer before our Premiership 'adventure', we have never looked even close to putting a solid 'unit' together at the back. So many times subsequently the team has failed due to the lack of solidity and understanding across the back line.
Oddly enough, the months of summer had blurred the truth. 'Doc and Shacks are plenty good enough for the Championship' mused Stan, and herein is the contradiction; they probably are as individual players. However, what they certainly don't make is a solid unit when thrown together.
Both players are instinctive, neither one is particularly clever in a footballing sense; they don't read a game like a Dion, a Watson, a Bruce or indeed a Fleming in his day. And the problem is, to Stan's eyes, that any centre-half pairing needs this sort of player.
It's why we looked infinitely better at the back last year when Dublin played there. It's also why giving Shacks the captain's armband seems a bit of a?. how should Stan put it? Odd. I do sense that Grant is aware of this problem, but has had his hands tied financially in capturing the sort of player we need.
As he well knows, whoever is going to fill that No 5 shirt won't come cheap, but surely sorting out this problem isn't a luxury, it's absolutely pivotal in dictating where this season will lead.
So what of the money Grant has spent? In light of the inherent weaknesses just mentioned, it's a bit unfair to judge too harshly. Otsemobor got forward well, but was left cruelly exposed at times; Jamie looked a bit lost sandwiched between Upson and AN Other Giant until Brown arrived and did a bit of the dirty work for him.
Strihavka-ka will obviously need a lot more time acclimatising to the English game before he can be judged; Fozzy continues to look like a Scottish Shaun Carey without the hair; Marshall, slightly suspect throwing apart, looks for all the world like the sort of keeper we've been crying out for.
So there it is; a sobering experience even if it was a friendly. Our problems laid bare and three quality old boys pitching up to remind us of 'What might have been…' to boot. Stan could apply that same strap line to fan's favourite Youssef, but that particular bun-fight can wait for another day.
Friendlies hey? What a load of old Tosh indeed!