By Mac Byrne
Mother Brown must be dropping to her knees and turning in her grave witnessing what is going down at Upton Park.
Everyone’s perennial second favourite club, one club historically famed for playing football the right way, nurturing talent and for providing the nucleus for England’s sole World Cup success is fast becoming a laughing stock.
With two porn entrepreneurs at the helm and a Managing Director originally installed (by the same owners at previous club Birmingham City) for the publicity she could bring to the club rather than any potential talent she may have, the writing was very much on the back of the toilet door. Karren Brady’s career catalyst was spending a £2m budget for her porn ‘star’ clients (thus the connection!) as a fledgling advertising exec’ (arguably not the hardest job in the world); her piece of resistance? Looking to rename the club West Ham Olympic – a move sure to take the very shine off the pearly king and queen!
When David and David-er paid £50m for the club 18 months ago Sullivan heralded a new era of stability and ambition; “Zola is absolutely staying. I can say that categorically. West Ham United need stability after all the recent upheavals. We appointed four managers and parted company with two at Birmingham in 16 years. We believe in our managers and give them the time and support they need,” he added. And he did stay… for four months!
Cue Avram Grant, a man fresh from an ‘invigorating’ season of rue and relegation with crisis club Portsmouth; one whose dour demeanour belies a genuinely decent chap but a man who has made the foot of the Premier League his own. Six months later we all lived the will-he/won’t he saga as cousin Avi’ endured death by a thousand quotes, finally being put out of his (and our) misery with the old ‘tin tack’ following West Ham’s relegation on the penultimate weekend of the season.
And what of the team? The Irons – famed for their flair, effort and their empathy with the fans, albeit it in a different age – have badly assembled a team of foreign rejects and English tryers who have all too often been blowing chances as well as ‘bubbles’ in those aspects of the beautiful game held so dear by the Hammers faithful.
Farcical defending – ‘backed’ by a ‘keeper fast developing his own brand of calamity known as ‘The Green’; disastrous transfers such as (loanee) Bridge-over-the-river-Why? Keiron Dyer, a man for one, rather than all seasons, and fitful striker Carlton Coal with his 1:7 goals to appearances ratio – roll too easily off the Brigham Young (tongue).
So, how DO you solve a problem like West Ham? Well for a start the original plan for stability is a must. Sam Allardyce, a man renowned for self inflation, famously stating that he is more suited to Inter Milan and Real Madrid than Blackburn and Bolton.
Going on to say that should he secure such a role (?) “It would not be a problem to me to go and manage those clubs because I would win the double or the league every time”, is, in terms of club ambition, a step in the right direction. However, such proclamations suggest Big Sam sees the Hammers as a shop window for a bigger High Street presence, once again threatening the stability of the club and Sullivan’s “seven-year plan to get them into the Champions League”!
And with Allardyce setting his stall out early by suggesting his first signing could well be El-Hadji Diouf, a player who is to team spirit and fan adulation what Bin Laden was to the peace process, a return to the good old days of attractive football and players giving 110% for the loveable east enders seems as far away as ever.
And it would appear to be the same ‘jackanory’ off the pitch. There have been rumours this week of a potential takeover by Tony Fernandes – respected entrepreneur and owner of Air Asia and the Lotus Formula One Team – a man promising to bring “..good money, good ideas, new people and a new belief”, something sadly lacking at present. But with the porn style crassness with which this offer was dismissed out of hand as ‘two-bob’ and ‘bizarre’ it would appear that the siege mentality and the accompanying ups and downs brought in by the three stooges is set to continue.