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Always a circusÖ


Filed: Saturday, 15th January 2011
By: Paul Walker


Is it just me who hates transfer windows? The uncertainty, the constant flicking onto Sky Sports News, the expectation and the constant disappointment.

And at West Ham all these emotions are amplified. But I was told it would be like this with the current owners. Iíve a few Birmingham pals who were quick to tell me that transfer times are a circus when Gold, Sullivan and Brady are involved. And thatís how they turn out.

At Birmingham, Iím told, there was always plenty of big names suggested and the resulting publicity. Itís the same here. We are told that Beckham and Henry are being chased, and we end up with Lars Jacobsen. No offence, Lars, youíve done a decent job here--when you are fit--but you donít sell too many replica shirts.

The reasons are obvious. We donít have any money, we can be out-bid by almost anyone and we are always left scrambling around for unknown, untried, mickey mouse foreigners. When you are as broke as we are, it will always be like this, sadly. Weíve even got Stoke City outbidding us, and I hope Ray Winstone is happy with himself!

Now I love the man and his cartoon cockney image. Heís a great actor, a loyal supporter and he has to make a bob or two. But does he realise that by fronting the Bet 365 advert, he is helping Stoke City? Bet 365 is owned by Stoke chairman Peter Coates and his family and has been funding the Potteries club for years, in effect Bet 365 owns the club.

Coates and his daughter Denise own Bet365 and are worth over £400m between them. Iím not seriously blaming Winstone for doing the advert, everyone has to make a living, but it has done plenty to boost Bet365ís coffers - I bet Ray would wish that collapsing pitch in the ad could swallow him up every time Stoke sign a player we have been chasing.

Itís not his fault we canít compete in the market. But itís such a circus, and embarrassing too. Take the Steve Sidwell debacle. That deal was up and running before Christmas, 99 per cent done we were told, and it must have been run past Gold and Sullivan by Avram Grant.

Then it all goes quiet. First we are told it was because of the 25-player limit, then that Roma couldnít come up with the money to buy Behrami, money that would be used to sort out Sidwell. In the end it was all down to Karen Brady putting the stiletto in.

Now I believe she actually got it right. Why did we need another midfield player with Mark Noble fit, and Parker, Kovac, Spector,Dyer, Boa Morte, Stanislas, Sears, Hines etc all able to play across the middle? But for someone who is only working part-time, and is paid by the owners and not the club, to have that much power over the managerís decisions was a surprise. Even if her decision was right, in my view.

And while we are on Ms Brady. Is it only me who is fed-up with seeing our business constantly used in her newspaper column to entertain the masses?

Carlton Cole and his agent had a meal with Ms Brady to discuss some non-football related problem. That was in the Sun - I bet he was chuffed with that. She also slaughtered the previous regime for a massive club mobile phone bill, and then told the world that she could sense fear from the players when she visited the training ground - that must have made interesting reading for our opponents.

All big companies give mobiles to their staff, and private calls are usually paid by the employee. Her point would have been better substantiated if she could have explained maybe what Birminghamís mobile phone bill was, or another club so we could see just how bad ours was. That little snippet smacked of the way new owners - or new governments for that matter - rubbish the previous regime to make their own efforts look better.

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish was coaxed into a comment on Ms Brady by the Midlands journalists she would know well, ahead of the Carling Cup semi-final first leg. He said he had asked her not to keep talking about his team when she was in charge at St. Andrews. The same attitude should be encouraged at the Boleyn. We are becoming a laughing stock every Saturday morning.

The same could apply to the Grant saga. I felt he should have been sacked well before Christmas to give time for a new man to be in place long before the transfer window. But we are in the window now and Grantís position has not been sorted out and must be having an effect on transfers, such is the on-going uncertainty.

His position has just added to the circus. It seems clear that candidates for his job are being sounded out. And thatís just the way itís done, not just at our place.

Managers can say they have not been approached and will not do anything while the present boss is still in place. But that does not stop advisors and agents doing all the chat-up stuff.

My view now is that Grant should stay, mainly because at last some of the players have been moved to support him, Scott Parker and Noble the most recent. But you sense this will just trundle on until he has to be axed or someone says privately they will take the job.

God hope itís not Sam Allardyce. His style is so opposite to everything this club stands for, the fans just wonít accept it. Many Irons fans I know are openly saying they will stop going to games if Sam gets the nod. And if Martin OíNeill is letting it be known that he does not think we can stay up, and that he wants a job further up the table, then he clearly lacks confidence in his own ability to take us on.

Frankly we should go for Roy Hodgson or Chris Hughton. Hodgson has not become a bad manager overnight just because the Scousers donít like him, and Hughton did a decent job with little money at Newcastle. Hodgson has made a career from taking over smaller clubs and even small national sides and making them better than they are. He did it with Fulham, he would be a safe pair of hands now.

And finallyÖ Itís no surprise that Spursí bid for the Olympic stadium has taken on a more aggressive stance since Mike Lee went there as publicity expert. What a turncoat. He was a director at the Boleyn not so long ago. Now his sleeping with the enemy.

Weíll know soon whether the Hammers will get the nod. But itís clearly a bid that Spurs fans donít want and the majority of Hammers fans feel the same.

Having worked around the football industry for 40-odd years, I understand the financial needs of a move to a bigger stadium and would accept a move although Iíd hate to leave the Boleyn.

But the thought of having Spurs just down the road would really impact on our club, a takeover by stealth. Deep down I donít want to go there, but I do not want to see them there instead, particularly with their new sneering attitude about us being a 'failing club'. Cheek.


Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.







Your Comments


by ken pearce
02:16PM 15th Jan 2011
''I agree with the sentiments, owners should be seen and not heard. Board members who have newspaper columns should not disclose private information about the club. They should have dignity, unfortunately this [lot] do not know the meaning of the word. Last year it was "Everyone is for sale", a real motivational action that one. Then lets start the season with those same players that have just been told that the last Zola had a Championship team. Little wonder then the season started badly.

Newspapers, TV pundits, blogs, comments on the web all say that players should be sold, the sentiment is OK providing someone wants to buy them. Look at a possible list, Benni Mac, Dyer, Ilunga, Faubert, Spence, Reid, Gabbidon, Kovac, then consider who would buy them? However, if we could off load for whatever money it would make way for some other loan signings that might just save the season. Unlikely though is it not, that this will happen.

As for the manager I would go for either Roy Hodgson, or Chris Houghton if they would take the job. Then give them the task of re-building the squad, with the instruction that they can get rid of players for whatever price they can get, and they can only bring in loan players. Obinna could go back, Carlton Cole could get sold as well as Piq, and get in Keane and Santa Cruz. Also look at Wheater and Huth for the defence since Upson is nearly out of contract.

Whoever is manager will have to face this juggling act and sort out the playing staff sooner rather than later, as carrying too much dead wood will mean we will be in the Championship next year.

The situation regarding playing staff, and owners that make public statements could well be the reason why no one wants to take the job, so for all those that want to replace Avram Grant, there may not be another game in town. At least he has handled himself with dignity, and it must be difficult to carry a dressing room when there is as much speculation about his job, from not only the media but also from his own board.

Perhaps he should just say goodbye and let the board find another manager who would take the job, then we would see how they handle the situation.

All in all not a good situation to be in, and as with the last transfer window much hoit air, rumour but only Wayne Bridge on loan, hence my comments above a few out and some reasonable ones in even on loan could well see the season turned around.

Ever the optimist that's why I'm forever blowing bubbles, well you would wouldn't you?''

by Fitzhammer
01:38PM 15th Jan 2011
''Agree with everything you say about Brady: she is an embarrasment and I can't see MON, assuming he comes putting up with her for five minutes.''

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