Friday, May 24, 2024

Fools Gold and Sullivan

My previous article focused on the potential for what could have been a claret and blue summer after a promising start from West Ham United since the opening of the 2019 summer transfer window.

In typical Irons style, however, it seems as though that particular bubble has burst. From the sale of Marko Arnautovic to the failed signing of promising forward Maxi Gomez, once again I feel like the failings of West Ham United come down to the fools that sadly own and run my club, David Sullivan and David Gold.

For years, the point and purpose behind the move from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium was that it would allow the club to become a bigger franchise, generate more income from ticket sales and global appeal, thus creating a world class team for a world class stadium.

As the official West Ham Twitter page delightfully announces with every new campaign; the club definitely seems to be making more money. Season after season, the Hammers faithful break new records in terms of season ticket holders every single year. That’s without taking into consideration the ever increasing TV income the club earn for merely maintaining their top flight footballing status.

According to the club’s official Twitter page, a record number of fans have renewed their season ticket for the upcoming 2019/20 campaign.
West Ham United were paid £122 million during the 2018/19 season.

Built on fools gold

From a business perspective, the stadium move has undoubtedly been a success. For every box of popcorn and bag of Pick ‘n’ Mix bag sold, Mr Sullivan and Gold must come over more rowdy than Anne Summer’s on a sale. From a footballing perspective, sadly West Ham United is still a far cry away from being a world class team in a world class stadium.

In all fairness, adjusting to a new stadium can be a tough time for any club. There were always going to be teething issues following the move from the Boleyn Ground down the road to Stratford. However, these problems were inflamed by the boards refusal to properly invest in the players that they promised to bring in.

Following their Highbury exit and relocation to the Emirates, Arsenal had to sell a huge number of their biggest stars such as Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Robin Van Persie to help cover the cost of building their new stadium. Likewise, Spurs could not afford to buy any players during the last two transfer windows due to the construction of the new White Hart Lane.

Fools Gold

West Ham United on the other hand only have to pay £2 million per year to rent the Olympic Stadium – the building of which was of course paid for by the tax payer in order for the nation to host the Olympic Games back in 2012. To put the figure of £2 million into a West Ham United perspective, that amount of money is less than half of what the club were paying Andy Carroll per year until his release from the football club this summer.

Therefore, the owners had no valid financial or footballing reason to refrain from spending big money on much needed quality players, which is what they had promised before the move. For six months prior to The Hammers relocation, Sullivan had promised to spend £30 million on a striker. However, West Ham ended up with Italian striker Simone Zaza on loan, who scored a grand total of zero goals in 11 appearances for the club.

The below video was posted by West Ham United three years before the move to the Olympic Stadium. It’s over six years now since the below eight minute video was posted and with the exception of the Sir Trevor Brooking and Bobby Moore stands, I cannot find a statement from Vice Chairman Karren Brady that rings true to this day. They couldn’t even move the statue from Upton Park to the London Stadium, that’s how far removed this video is from reality.

The starvation of proper recruitment for two years left the club on the brink of relegation in both 2017 and 2018. This, along with a pitch invasion at a Burnley home fixture, finally appeared to open the eyes of Sullivan and Gold to the reality that if they didn’t put their hands in their pockets, West Ham United would eventually be relegated. As a result, Manuel Pellegrini became the third highest paid manager in the Premier League and The Hammers spent around £100 million on new players in the summer of 2018.

From that much needed investment, the Irons ended up comfortably in 10th place last season. Though inconsistent at times, the platform for West Ham to kick on was and still is undoubtedly there. With an influx of new players and a good manager at the helm, The Hammers had spent most of last season challenging for a Europa League spot.

Going into this season, it was plainly clear that deadwood players such as Carroll, Lucas Perez etc had to be let go in order for the club to move forward once again. This was as important as bringing in players of quality to replace them. However, with only a month before the upcoming Premier League season begins, we’re no closer to bringing anyone in to replace the strikers we’ve let go.

As much as Marko Arnautovic was a rotten apple at the club, how can West Ham let the Austrian international and his parasitical brother leave Stratford for Shanghai in a £22 million move before the signing of Maxi Gomez is complete when the only natural remaining strikers at the club are Javier Hernandez and Jordan Hugill?

Besides that, the East London outfit desperately clung on to Arnautovic in January, turning down a £35 million pound move to China before providing the enigmatic Austrian with a bumper new deal. Once the Hammers have gone to those lengths to keep him, why accept a meeker £22 million pounds this time around?

It’s common practice in this era of football for clubs to provide new bumper contracts to want-away stars in order to increase the transfer fee, but in this case the club have lost out on £13 million and had to pay Arnautovic’s inflated wage. If the Chinese club were unable to pay the £35 million on this occasion, either let Austrian international rot in the U21 squad or tell him to get his head down and win his way back into the team again.

According to reports, the Gomez deal broke down due the clubs being unable to agree to a payment structure. In fairness, it is common practice in this day and age for big fees to be paid in instalments – with the Gomez fee touted around the £40 million mark – with add-ons’ that would probably amount to a club record fee. However, given the nature of Sullivan’s previous bartering for players, especially in the William Carvalho case, it would not surprise me if the negotiations in this deal are as laughable as all too many of the past.

The embarrassing negotiation skills of David Sullivan when the club tried to purchse William Carvalho were leaked in 2017.

The biggest issue here is not that the club have missed out on their main target, it is more that the club seem to have settled with the idea of making Javier Hernandez the main striker of Manuel Pellegrini’s team as it was announced yesterday that the former Manchester United striker will now be wearing the coveted number nine shirt – the number that is normally reserved for the first choice striker.

Chicharito is a decent striker and a very good goal poacher, yet I’m sure all West Ham fans would have hoped he’d have seen more game time and notched more than the 16 goals in 61 appearances since he signed for the club in the summer of 2017. If the club is to make the all time Mexican goal scorer their main man, then the team has to play to his strengths, which it has never done before – hence the Little Pea’s struggles at times.

Regardless of that, the East London side still need to invest in at least one, if not, two more strikers. If Hernandez should fall victim to injury, currently the only players to replace him are Michail Antonio, a natural winger, and Jordan Hugill, a Championship level striker.

That is a disastrous outcome and The Hammers faithful have seen it happen before. In 2013, cult hero and fan favourite, Carlton Cole was famously released by the club only to be resigned in January 2014 as the Irons only other striking option was the injured Carroll.

To top the current situation off, rather than trying to recruit players for West Ham United, David Gold has once again proved why he desperately needs to hire a head of public relations. One look at his embarrassing Twitter page this summer should tell anyone all they need to know about the way he has been spending his time.

Ultimately, my huge problem with the board does not exist due to the most recent failure of signing a much needed striker. My distaste and hunger for Sullivan and Gold to sell the club stems from their methods of running my club and the absolute circus that they have created over the last decade, particularly since the move from Upton Park.

The fans did not give up their money, their church, their home, and their lives for the board to funnel lies, cheap transfers and dodge big money signings. If you still believe that Sullivan and Gold truly have the benefit of West Ham United at heart, you need only look at the absolute drivel that the two of them have signed to play up front since their take over – most of which have either been on loan or free transfers.

I believe that David Sullivan and Gold have taken the club as far as they can, and in all honesty, a new owner could be exactly what West Ham United need. If the current regime continues on, I fear fortune will forever be hiding.

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