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Shooting ourselves in the foot

Filed: Monday, 18th February 2013
By: Paul Walker

So we have a pending relegation crisis, a managerial crisis and the return of the dark cloud that is the Sheffield United crisis. Forgive me, but havenít we been this way before?

It all seems to come around about this time every year, or is that just me being paranoid, or the pessimist that my match-going mates continue to call me. Iím sorry, but when youíve been around West Ham for as long as me, you do tend to see a glass as half empty rather than half full.

And it is all so avoidable. The relegation situation would have been avoidable if our beloved team had managed a half-decent, organised performance at Aston Villa last Sunday.

It has taken me a few days to get over what was a bitterly disappointing outcome and it was even laughable to see a quote from Sam Allardyce that Ďwe couldnít play any better.í Good grief, if he believes that maybe he should go now.

It makes you wonder why managers of all persuasions think they can trot out rubbish remarks for the great unwashed and expect them not to be challenged. Club websites and players do the same. Do give us some credit for knowing what we are watching.

Then there was the official statement from the club to re-iterate what we all have known all along - thatís if we have been keeping up, and we all have. It explained again that there will be no talk of new contracts until we are safe from relegation.

That was in response to a no-quotes piece in one of the Sundays about big Samís future. Nobody picked up on it until the club went all official on the website, then itís all over Sky on the half hour, every half hour, and has been the subject of follow-ups all week.

That could all have been avoided if the club had ignored the Sunday paper piece and allowed Sam to handle any questions at his next press conference. Heís big enough and ugly enough to look after himself, and he would have said that there was nothing new in the story, itís been that way since the Play-Off final when his long-term future was put on the back burner until he had achieved the second part of his two year contractÖto maintain West Hamís place in the top flight.

So often our club, who seem to lack basic understanding of how journalists work, come out with poorly conceived statements that just add fuel to a fire that would fizzle out on itís own accord.

So now we have had a week of ínames in the frameí and soul-searching about Samís future, style, his staff and what the players think. Well done everybody, a crisis out of nothing.

Sam is a very rich man with a home in the Lancashire hills. He does not need to work, he does it because he wants to prove he is right and everyone else is wrong about him. He may even want to go in the summer, he hopes with his reputation restored and our club safe in the top flight and able to get their hands on the vastly bigger sponsorship pot from Sky and the worldwide TV contracts.

That would make paying Sheffield United their last £6m hand-out this summer an awful lot easier. Maybe we will even be able to spend money on transfer fees in the next window, unlike the last one where we paid out only wages and loan fees and were unable to buy a good left back and a new striker. But then again, pigs might fly.

Sheffield United, of course, is a problem we can do without raising itsí ugly head every few months. It leaves a bad taste.

And I am fed up with seeing everybody still writing that we contravened third-party regulations over Carlos Tevez. Now if I am wrong about this, please someone correct me. But when the Tevez crisis arose, the Premier League did not have any regulations about third-party ownership, I believe the Football League still donít have any either.

The new rules came about afterwards. We were found guilty of lying to the Premier League, and having a clause in Tevezís contract that allowed his owners to sell him whenever they wanted, against our wishes, in any window.
That clause was discovered by Liverpoolís former chief executive Rick Parry when he was going through Javier Mascheranoís contract with a fine tooth comb ahead of the now Barcelona starís loan move to Anfield.

The clause contravened regulations that say no outsider can influence team selection, and if that said third party had other players at other clubs with the same clause, it could be seen as a way of influencing team selections.

In the summer of the Tevez scandal, the Premier League adopted new regulations and voted not to punish West Ham any further. Clearly, at the time more than a few clubs did not want to see any close investigation of certain contracts and wanted the situation concluded.

It was also suggested at the time that a few contracts of Portuguese or Brazilian players would not have passed closer inspection. Maybe Chelsea and Jose were all too aware of a pending problem?

This wasnít good enough for the Blades as we know, who finally found an FA-established independent hearing that allowed them to railroad us into the current £20m we are still paying back.

And that only came about on the back of the wonderful Scott Duxbury being accused of trying to re-negotiate Tevezís original contract that we said had been torn up at the time of the original offences.

The Premier League accepted that had happened, and allowed Tevez to play at Wigan on April 28, 2006 and the final two league games against Bolton and Manchester UnitedÖall three games were won and we were saved from the drop.

Only after all that did Duxbury try to offer Tevez a deal to stay, and that was interpreted at the tribunal - without anything in writing it has to be said - as Ďnot having torn up the original contract.Ď

Now thatís how I have always seen it. I was a working journalist at the time and obvious sympathetic to the Irons, but do not believe that my understanding of what happened to be incorrect. As I said, if I am labouring under misapprehensions, will someone put me right.

It just continues to annoy me that we are constantly accused of breaking regulations that didnít even exist!

But now back to the present and our team who could be dragged into a relegation battle very, very easily. All that pressure could have been avoided by a victory at Villa Park, and we certainly had the chances despite a terrible, mechanical performance.

The previous day I, along no doubt with a few thousands Irons fans, had sat at home and watched virtually every result go our way, apart from Southampton beating Manchester City. Had we won at Villa we would have been 12 points clear of the drop zone with 12 games left.

We would have been on 33 points and almost safe. But now the gap is just seven, although we still(!) have a far better goal difference than any of the bottom four, which is worth another point.

Since we went down in 2002-03 with 42 points, still a record, the fourth from bottom survival place has been achieved with 44, 39, 34, 38, 38, 36, 35, 35, 40 and 37 points. An average of 37.

So now I believe we must get 37 minimum. But the run-in is very tough. Home to Spurs and Manchester United, and away trips to Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City. Thatís six of our final 12 games were are unlikely to get anything from on current form.

So we have to find seven points now from the other six. And that includes matches against fellow strugglers Southampton, Reading, Wigan and Newcastle. It does not look like it is going to be easy, which makes the rotten display at Villa even harder to take.

Perhaps the five-day break in Dubai will help us. It certainly did last season at this time when we were going through that bad patch of draws in the Championship.

But unless we want to avoid facing Sheffield United on the field next season - our money looks to be giving them another tilt at promotion - we had better get our act together quickly and rustle up seven points from somewhere.

It is all coming to a head together, with the move to Stratford likely to be confirmed in the next week or so. What our wonderful leaders will not be able to contend with is a team in the Championship while their heads are on the clouds over a rebuilt Olympic stadium, and the Boleyn on the market.

So come on Sam, if this is your last throw of the West Ham dice before you return to the Lancashire hills, get a grip now!

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 Philtheiron
01:23AM 19th Feb 2013
''I broadly agree with everything that has been said, but hate how the Tevez thing has been dragged up again! But have to add that the "Egg" was to blame for a lot of our woes!

As I remember he admitted "wrongdoing" where there was none just to settle the matter little thinking that the very act of pleading guilty opened the door to Sheffield Utd where previously there was none! And ultimately cost us our right of appeal and 20mill! This was after Scudamore had agreed a deal with the irons and ALL of the rest of the Prem teams. Didn't stop Sheffield Utd shafting us or certain chairman bad mouthing us in the press when they knew the facts were different.

Anyway, that's all water under the bridge now but we will never forget. Bastards! See how this rubbish gets in the way of more important things? Like, yes we will stay up! We will keep AC and Big Sam will lead us into the Olympic promised land! There. Sorted. COYI.''

by ATB Trev
07:48PM 18th Feb 2013
''A brief (yeah right!) summary of the Tevez and Sheffield Utd affair. The facts which I belive all came out in the SU tribunal and FA hearing:

1. During the discussions with the Premier League regarding the signing of T & M, West Ham enquired as to the legality of the 3rd party arrangment.
2. West Ham were told this arrangement contrviened the rules.
3. West Ham went ahead with the agreement and kept this from the PL
4. West Ham signed T & M and they were eligible to play.
5. The secret contract came to light during the sale of M to Liverpool.
6. West Ham were charged by the FA.
7. We pleaded guilty to all of the above during the hearing and got fined 5mil and told to tear up the offending contracts or not to play T again.. At this point in the season it looked like we were certanties for relegation.
8. We contrinued to play T in the last three games of the season saying we have the agreements terminated.
9. We stayed up. SU were relegated.
10. We had a disupte with MSI over the sale of T to Man U (around the 3rd party clause - MSI were behaving as if there was an agreement. We were behaving as if there wasn't an agreement anymore.
11. T was sold to Man U for 2 mil.
12. MSI started legal proceedings.
13 This was amically dropped .
14. Kia was later put on the West Ham payroll as a 'consultant' reputably paid 2 mil in salary.
15 At no point during this were the regulations changed.

Opinions from FA hearing

West Ham defence: West Ham claimed ingorance of the 3rd party rule and that they took advice that the 'side' agreement was legitimate in their view.

FA: - said that's hard to believe

FA - The lying about the documents was a more serious offence than the rule breach.

FA - amongst others, one reason why a points deduction was not handed out was because we were probably going to be relegated anyway so that would not be a punishment. Hence the record fine.

SU and court cases.

1. SU first tried to get a review and overturing of the FA hearing decision. They failed on all counts.

2. They then tried a civil action for compenstion for our actions and rule break.

3. Key points decisions by Lord Griffiths:

i. West Ham would not have signed T & M if the 3rd pary agreements was not in place. Reasoning: We wouldn't have hidden the documents otherwise.

ii T was worth at least 3 pts to West Ham over the course of the season. Reasoning: Everyone at the court gave evidence as to how great a player T was. Including our own defense. (aka the muppets)

iii He thought T playing the last 3 games was still contraviening the rules as the rd party agreements were still in place. Reasoning: the oral cuddle conversation between West Ham and Kia and his laywer. Which Kia secretely recorded.

Lord Griffiths (crazy) Conclusion:

West Ham's delibrate rule breaking meant we got at least 3 more points than we would have. Consequently we owed SU compensation for their relegation.

We agreed as there was no appeal route to the tribunal and if we tried to negotiate with SU, the money would have been payable immediately and West Ham would have gone into administration.

This is all from my memory so happy to be corrected if any of this is wrong.''

by g portugal
03:49PM 18th Feb 2013
''I fully agree. Time and time again we have thrown points away this season.''

by Anthony
02:54PM 18th Feb 2013
''Excellent article. Easily the best summary or the last few weeks. Mirrors my thoughts exactly. West Ham throw up surprises and you least expect it.... And that's where I stop lest I bock us. COYI''

by Pepin
11:43AM 18th Feb 2013
''There is a difference between being "glass half emty" and sh*tting yourself, IMO.''

by Tony
11:24AM 18th Feb 2013
''Great piece of writing piece with a lot to think about. Thanks for clearing up the Tevez mess for me as I never really got my head around the whole thing. Pity it was us that got caught out with the anomaly.

However, what I don't get is, if you are right about the Tevez affair, how did Sheffied manage to win a high court ruling scewing us for some much over what you say is just an anomaly not an infringement?

ps. my son (17) wants to be a goalie and failing that, he wants to be a football journalist. Is it a viable career these days? I have heard that journos are not taken on to the books any more and most have a zero hour contract having pieces picked up or not. Is this true, what would your advice to my boy be?''

by simon
10:17AM 18th Feb 2013
''I agree with a lot of what you say but not all.

First the handling of Tevez is best forgotten, pay the money and move on we can't change it now. As far as Allardyce is concerned, after many years watching live we moved to Australia four years ago - although not there we do get (at stupid o'clock in the morning) every game live on Foxtel - so for the last five months I have got up and witnessed the worse West Ham performances I have seen (except under Avram) for 35 years.

I bloody hope he does go and we stop hoofing long balls as our only tactic - I would love to see Maiga more but not being 6'5 that is unlikely, is he the only one that can not see Nolan's dip in form and realise he is not a striker? I could go on but my blood boils.

So that leads to are we in trouble? Absolutely we are, purely because we can't score goals (Carroll or no Carroll). That is the main concern, to be honest Villa are probably the worse team I have seen this year (even worse than QPR) yet we managed to make them look good.

We have not dominated and won with class all year - worrying. That said I think QPR, Villa and WIgan are worse and therefore wins against Reading and Southampton may just see us through, achieving that after the next four straight defeats (Tottenham, Stoke, Chelsea and Man U) may just be enough to ensure making the decision is brought forward after all and we actually have a new manager that plays football.

Although the heart says Di Canio the head says Gus Poyet may be a better option but either way, another year, another excuse why we can't actually spend money and then be surprised we don't get our targets free on loan! I have no issue if we have no money but then lets plan for the future and play some youth. Potts, Morrison, Moncur and others may well be the future anyway.''

by Tell how it is Charlie
09:15AM 18th Feb 2013
''It was always going to be a tough season. They are still 11th so West Ham are not doing too bad. Allardyce, always stated that this year would always be about consolidation. It looks as though they really miss Collins. Tomkins and Read don't quite look up to it. Your friend Joe Cole, do you not think he is a show boater along with Nolan?

I think they will be OK, the home form isn't bad. I would rather be in West Ham's position than Wigan's or Reading's, the pressure is far more on them. What stories are you talking about, Mr. Walker? I don't see read the Mirror, only the stuff free on the internet. I think Allardyce has done a great job in his time at West Ham but it looks the same style of boot it up the field as quick as possible. West Ham look to be becoming a team very predictable to play against.''

by Hammer & Tongs
08:40AM 18th Feb 2013
''I still don't understand how it was ok for Tevez to move to Man Ure, what did they do differently that we didn't? He was still owned by a third party.''

by tony hanna
08:22AM 18th Feb 2013
''The whole Sheffield United affair stinks and why West Ham folded with an out of court settlement still baffles me.

Paul, I think you may be wrong with your prediction on 37 points being the safe level this season. I will be surprised if anyone with 34 or more goes down this year. ''

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