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West Ham’s Most Important Summer Beckons


Four years ago, West Ham’s fans and players were licking their wounds after coming so close to winning the clubs first piece of major silverware since 1980’s F.A. Cup win. Cruelly denied by Liverpool, firstly with Steven Gerrard’s incredible last minute equaliser which took the game to extra time and then penalties, it was tough to take. Overall though, the 2005-2006 season had been an impressive return to the top flight for the Hammers with 9th place achieved. Under Alan Pardew, the club had cemented a mid table position and things looked positive.

Today, the club is saddled with debts of over £100 million, a playing squad that needs a major overhaul and is searching for its 4th permanent manager since returning to the Premiership in 2005. The club flirted with relegation all season as injuries to key players, a lack of goals from a hastily assembled strike force and a trawling of the loan market to bolster a thread bare squad. Gianfranco Zola paid the price for a season of nervous worry as the good work of last season unraveled before the Upton Park faithful.

It strikes me as odd that a club that had a reputation as being so patient with managers has suddenly started going through them with gusto. When Harry Redknapp took over in 1994, he was actually West Ham’s 8th full time manager. In fact up to 1989, when Hammers legend John Lyall was sacked, the shortest period a manager had been in charge of the Hammers was an incredible 11 years, when Ted Fenton held the role from 1950 to 1961. The managers job was a byword for stability at Upton Park but it certainly isn’t the case now.

With those two wall flowers, David Gold and David Sullivan riding to the rescue in February, the club at least has two people in charge who know about football. No more biscuit millionaires from Iceland almost destroying the club, now regardless of how you feel towards them, the two Davids do know about running a football club.  They may not make popular decisions, but they saved Birmingham City. They’ve also announced a ten point vision to drag the club back on an even footing which makes interesting reading.

Most of it would seem to be common sense but any West Ham fan would do well to discuss Sullivan and Gold with Birmingham City fans. Many of the points mentioned in the new vision for West Ham were rolled out in various guises during their 17 year tenure at the Blues and regardless of the fact they left the club in a far healthier situation than the one they found it in, they are not loved at St. Andrews. I did notice that two weeks ago, David Gold said no player was unsellable, but in the new vision, they don’t want to be a selling club? Well which is it gents?

The signing hungry players also echoes the same statement made by David Sullivan in 2004  who stated word for word what is now masquerading as point 2. Are we beginning to see a pattern yet? As is the point about reconnecting with the local fan base, which is fine, until you begin to raise the prices to the points were the local fan base can’t afford to go anymore and I’m sure they often went on about leaving St Andrews numerous times throughout the nineties too.

Suffice to say West Ham are in a financial situation that means they have no option to listen to offers for players. If any offer comes in, it’s highly likely that the club will sell most of their assets. It’s a sad state of affairs, but with the playing squad they have, regardless of who comes in as manager, it’s going to be another long season.

The team needs fresh blood and a removal of the high earning injury prone failures that came in during the Icelandic years. It could take two or three years before real progress is being seen on the pitch. The nucleus of the young players breaking through need protecting rather than thrown to the lions of a relegation battle.

Despite Gold and Sullivan’s obsession with publicity, they do have a good record when it comes to supporting managers. Despite the very public and rather distasteful undermining of Gianfranco Zola, their record at Birmingham showed should the right man be available, they will support him until it becomes an untenable situation. The right man just needs to get used to seeing the owners in the press every other day.

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  1. Logan

    May 27, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    It is really going to be a crazy Summer, especially after the World Cup. I’m excited to see what happens, but as the others above me have mentioned, quite nervous about the coming year. It has to get better, it just has to.

  2. patrick

    May 19, 2010 at 7:33 am

    It became clear this season that only one play didn’t give up… Scott Parker. The rest seemed lost and lazy. Set pieces killed the Irons all season. It was just lack of concentration. Upson was just horrid the second half of the season… And Spector was constantly out matched. The midfield gave the ball away too easy and Carlton Cole had to deal with the opposing back line alone all season. Cole was paired with strikers with no pace and who just sat back and waited for him to do all the work and poach a goal.

    Zola went from attacking to a squad the looked a lot like a u9 team chasing the ball around the pitch.

    The main worry is now the Davids… They talk of financial responsibility and signing the best players, but who did they sign first. Benni McCarthy who was coming from a club that couldn’t score goals. was old slow and then over paid. sounds and feels like more of the same.

    The names WHU have been licked with this early offseason, are all top fizzy pop players, a lot like like the Pardew method… BUT that was pardew, he was a fizzy pop manager.

    Avram will hopefully sort this out. But there is always drama with the eastenders…

    • Paul Bestall

      May 19, 2010 at 8:40 am

      Absolutely agree with Scott Parker, he has been superb this season and has really got back to the form that saw him so highly rated at Charlton Athletic.
      It amazed me that people were criticising the decision to include him in the provisional squad for the World Cup when he has had an amazing season all in all.
      For me, it was a no-brainer and he certainly deserves a chance to go to the World Cup.

  3. Eious

    May 18, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    They need consistency on the team overall

    Their D goes in and out and their offense doesn’t exist in many games

    With great coaching and a few offensive signings, this team can do what Tottenham did in 2 years

  4. David the Yank

    May 18, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    I watched all 38 West Ham matches this year. (Thank you, Fox, and the departed Setanta.) It was very very painful. Zola is a class act, a gentleman among not-so-gentle-men, and yet not ready, either from team selection, player purchasing (Savio & Jiminez as purported saviors) and getting best out of his players for a top league job. Hopefully Avram will come in and finally get a chance, over 3 or 4 years, to show what he can do. West Ham were truly absymal this year, the worst West Ham team I have ever seen, much worse than the team that went down in the early part of last decade with 42 points, but they got the fortune of Pompey, Hull & Burnley being far worse. While I think Blackpool or Cardiff will go straight back down, WBA & Newcastle will provide better competition, and Gold/Sullivan/[Avram] must simply improve the squad. The 3 players Avram wants to bring into midfield & attack would be a great start. The Davids signing of McCarthy was atrocious; Mido was useless; fortunately Ilan came good. If Avram brings in the 3 players he wants, and West Ham get a left back or Ilunga back, and if Collison can somehow regain fitness/form, they have a strong nucleus to be mid-table. Cole should be considered for sale; will anyone actually pay good money for him? The 10 point plan makes perfect sense. The prior vision sounded good too. IT’S ALL ABOUT EXECUTION!

    • Paul Bestall

      May 18, 2010 at 5:44 pm

      Exactly David, West Ham have had such a torrid 3 or 4 seasons, both on and off the field that to still be a Premiership club is something to be proud of.
      My concern is that with the situation, they’ll not be able to count on 3 such bad sides next season. They need to get someone in quick and everything seems to point to Avram Grant, who I feel will do a great job at West Ham, given the right support.

    • UpIrons

      May 18, 2010 at 6:15 pm

      Yup. All good points.

      Avram would be a perfect replacement.

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