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Front up - and shut up

Filed: Tuesday, 3rd May 2011
By: Paul Walker

David Sullivan really should start doing his job. He should lead from the front at away games, front up when the going gets tough and learn to shut up.

Hard, I know, based on experience. Exactly what damage Sullivanís pre-match attack on the players' integrity did can only be guessed at. But he stole the headlines again.

And the same thing happened with his reasoning for not attending the Manchester City match. More of the wrong sort of headlines again.

He has insulted his players and then the fans who did make it to Eastlands. How nice to see just how little our attendance was valued. To be told that 'only 1,100 fans travelled' and that the bulk of West Ham fans preferred to watch on TV was a very disappointing impression to give. Frankly it was insulting.

Sullivan and the board should be grateful the travelling support are sticking by the club, we made plenty of noise and the players did show their appreciation.

It seems that the nearer we get to relegation the more abuse we are suffering. Some members of the media are suggesting there will be no sympathy for us if we go down after the Tevez affair and few clubs will shed a tear if we are relegated.

Our co-chairman must know this. So he should not be sitting at home in his Epping palace, or wherever he was when the rest of us were at Eastlands, watching TV. He is 'head of delegation' and should have been showing leadership in Manchester.

The argument that he is fed up with our away form is pathetic. We all are, but 1,100 didnít go missing when the going got tough.

He seems to think that because we returned 500 tickets for Sundayís 2-1 defeat, that the fans canít be bothered either.

What he would not have known, because he clearly doesnít travel with the rest of the fans, is that it was virtually impossible to get to and from Manchester on Sunday by train.

Yes, he travels by private jet, helicopter or in a ridiculously ostentatious car (probably wearing that equally ridiculous KGB coat).

So he wouldnít know about how the rank and file got to Manchester. Five hours each way was the norm with no trains out of Euston all day to Manchester that didnít involve a coach trip first to Milton Keynes, I understand.

The return was no better. The train me and my son jumped at Piccadilly for a short trip back into Cheshire where we live, was terminating at Rugby with more coach travel due to engineering works.

So Iím not surprised that many fans felt this was a trip too far. But Sullivanís remarks that 'only 1,100' fans travelled was belittling and disrespectful.

My son was using the match and the day as part of his stag do, but friends from London just couldnĎt get to the game.

If you have a private jet, it makes it all so much easier! Me and the lad spend a small fortune travelling to every home game from the north, relatively itís a much bigger financial commitment than the costs that Sullivan and the rest of his board face. They are multi-millionaires for heavenís sake.

So having slammed the players before the game for not putting enough effort in, Sullivan and his crew then showed they were not bothered either by failing to travel to Manchester. I will excuse David Gold, who must still be recovering from his illness, but Karren Brady should have been there with Sullivan.

It doesnít take much these days for rival clubs to find ways to ridicule us, so it was no surprise that someone at Manchester City saw fit to tell the media that there was a table reserved for the West Ham board that was left empty.

Sullivanís reasoning was that away results are getting to him, and he cannot influence results. Yes he can. He owns the place, he could have sacked Avram Grant after we lost our first four games. He could have sacked the manager before Christmas, and he could have axed him in January.

It was the board, not the fans, who fouled up the Martin OíNeill approach. Someone at a very high level leaked that story and scuppered the deal. So whose fault is the current plight?

Sullivan is blaming players, seemingly, who are out of contract soon and claiming they are not bothered. No names, of course, but that allows the media to guess and put Upson, Gabbidon, Spector, Dyer and Jacobsen in the frame.

But against Chelsea and Manchester City, it was clear that the players were trying their best. That they are not good enough is not their fault, The board could have influenced that too by putting more money in to buy better players to avoid relegation.

They could have spent then to avoid this pending disaster, which will cost them a fortune. So stop telling us you canít influence results.

Sullivan has kept pretty quiet this season after so many embarrassing comments last term. Now heís at it again. Fans talking in pubs and on websites can question the players, thatís part of the rough and tumble of football.

But chairmen should know better, that their every word will be picked over by the media and turned against the club.

I was warned by Birmingham supporting fans and members of the Midlands media that this is what it would be like. Sadly they are being proved right.

We can still get out of this mess, but the cause is not being helped by so much gibberish coming from the board room. Front up, shut up and show that your actions are more important than words.

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 Tongster
04:25PM 7th May 2011
''I really appreciate a fan's personal story in light of the circus represented by the owners. We'll see where the fans are after relegation.''

by Keithv
06:24PM 5th May 2011
''Smashing article. It will never matter how much money they put in, they are an obnoxious bunch of people to be in charge of our club. I very much doubt that any decent manager who isn't 'desperate' for a job will ever come anywhere near us while they are in charge. They treat the whole thing like they are in an episode of the Apprentice.''

by hammerswest
07:19PM 4th May 2011
''Great article. I posted on another site in the same vein, but nowhere as articulately as you. Nicely written and exactly how I feel. Thank you.''

by g portugal
06:04PM 4th May 2011
''The article IS a rant. Without the current owners' investment in West Ham the club would have gone down LAST season. Supporters, especially in print, should lay off the owners and when they show up at Upton Park, for ONCE make some noise and create a positive atmosphere as opposed to a morgue or a funeral. We are not where we are because of the owners. We are there because of inept management, laziness, poor execution and a lack of desire amongst the players.

Stupid mistake after stupid mistake after stupid mistake is why we are in this situation, by both the manager and the players. Blaming the owners is the ultmate hypocrisy. The sole thing that they CAN be blamed for is that, yes, they should have replaced Grant in January.''

by iron sam
11:02AM 4th May 2011
''Good post, exactly what I was thinking. Grant was their choice and now they are moaning about how poor the team are doing, pure farce. The team are not good enough; whether it is players or managers at fault the owners need to take their portion of blame and sort it out.''

by geoffre risley
08:59AM 4th May 2011
''Here we go again, let's bash the owners. It's going to take us at least five years to get back to where we used to be. Stay up or go down, the club is £80m in debt - you don't just go to sleep one night wake up and it all goes away, no it is still there and being added to by interest.

Can you remember the masses of people wanting to buy the club? Would you have bought West Ham? Offset the losses? Keep people in work? Yes its hard being a fan, is it your £80m? We are fortunate to still be in business. My fear is if we dont get the next manager right then we could do a Sheff Wed - keep on dropping.

We are in this mess due to very poor managerial appointments and even worse player purchases. Money has been wasted, blown into the wind like confetti. Things cost and have to be repaid. Wishing it wasn't so won't make it go away.

I dont agree with everything the owners do but they stepped in when it mattered and boy does it matter now. Strap youself in, it's going to be a bumpy ride.''

by two bob
08:26AM 4th May 2011
''Well said Paul - my son and his girlfriend made the round trip from Orpington to Manchester on Sunday by car (Ford Focus, not Rolls Royce) to support the team. He will see no change out of £200 with the price of tickets and fuel. This at a time when, just a week ago, he was made redundant.

Able members of the Board should hang their heads in shame. I seem to recall Sullivan also bottled it at the Birmingham semi final. Disgraceful!
I wouldn't be surprised if the chant of 'you're just a part time supporter' will be heard at the Boleyn on Saturday - and not from the Blackburn fans!''

by Trekking Iron
07:57AM 4th May 2011
''Great article. We should not forget that Gold & Sullivan have put a great deal of cash into the club, that they are Hammers at heart but they, or at least Sullivan needs to learn to keep his mouth tightly shut. DS has done more to harm the reputation of West Ham than any of the gaffs the board have managed in the past 10 years - probably ever.''

02:53AM 4th May 2011
''Couldn't agree more. Sullivan can point the finger all he wants but it should be obvious to everyone involved that it is he and the board that are mainly at fault for our plight.

Last year he blamed our struggles on the previous owners. This year, now that he has lost that excuse, he is blaming the players. We will go down because of his managerial appointment (that buffoon - Avram Grant) and his refusal to fire him in November, December, and then January (just look at West Brom). We will go down because he refused to bring in the necessary players this summer, especially a forward, a central defender, and a LB and RB.

Tony Fernandes - oh what could have been.''

by Alan Richards
11:19PM 3rd May 2011
''I empathise with this obviously heart-felt piece. At St Andrew's David Gold spent a lot of time trying to sweep up the many gaffes, not only of Sullivan but equally of Brady. They seem to want to belittle their own team as well as their own manager. I cannot think what they believe their caustic comments will achieve. Brady even used her column in a national paper to attack McLeish and his team. It must be dreadful to work for such people. Incidentally, all is not lost.''

by Scott
10:34PM 3rd May 2011
''Whilst I understand you being upset, if someone saves a club from financial peril and the amount of funds they have put in, I think they've every right to their say.

They've spent silly amounts on players since coming in and backed Grant in the window, Bridge is earning £70k per week, that's astronomical. Keeping hold of Parker and Green who are vital to us.

In regards to the comment about 'only 1,100' - this is a relatively poor WHU turnout, we usually sell 3-4,000 at at away game like this, we're taking something silly like 6,000 to Wigan, he is merely saying the form of the team is rubbish and if fans are staying away and saving their hard earned - why shouldn't he?

Perhaps we are reading the comments in a different context, but this article reads more like a rant to me.''

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