The demise of West Ham, from FA Cup finalists’ in 2006 to an Npower championship side just five years later has been evident through the goings on in the transfer window. The clear failure to bring in the correct player at the correct price has cost our club dearly. The failure by previous owners and managers in the summer months has taken the East London club from the Uefa Cup to the Championship.
In 2005 West Ham won promotion from the Coco Cola Championship back into the Premier League. There is a common misconception in football that spending big guarantees success and in the 05/06 season neither Terrence Brown nor Alan Pardew were going to be lured into that falseness. The biggest signing that summer was £2.5m for Yossi Benayoun. Pardew brought in experience, such as Konchesky, to go along with the youth the team already had. Every player was hungry and wanted to play for the club. With West Ham playing so well, Pardew was given sufficient funds in January and spent £7.25m on Dean Ashton. Ashton was a talent so at the price the hammers paid it seemed a coup. Ashton scored some goals and West Ham had the best season they had for some time, claiming a 9th place finish and reaching the FA Cup final.
The downward spiral of West Ham started in 2006 when the transfer window opened. The transfer policy seemed the same as the previous season. Pardew was given £5m to spend and he made that money stretch. He brought in Green, Cole, McCartney, Bowyer and Spector. None of the mentioned players would have been on high wages. We seemed to be heading the right direction in terms of money, without selling the prized assets. With the club in Europe and a young hungry British team plus an excellent young manager in Alan Pardew this should have been the start of West Ham’s most successful period as a club since the 1980’s. However, on the 31st August, West Ham signed Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano from Corinthians. The deal was reported as £25m for the pair, although officially classed as ‘undisclosed’. The two players’ wages were suggested to be phenomenal to a club of our economic stature, plus it was reported the Hammers had to pay money to MSI, the owners of the Tevez and Mascherano. In what should have been West Ham’s best season in years, ended up being one of the worst. The economic effects of that deal are still being felt. We had to pay £5.5m, in a record fine due to breaching premier rules, and then the club had to pay £20m to Sheffield United in Compensation.
After that the transfer policy at Upton Park just got poorer. Eggert Magnusson took over at the Boleyn and his transfer policy was quite astonishing. After sacking Pardew in December, he appointed Curbishley and then gave the new manager huge funds in the January window, spending £17m on Upson, Neil, Quashie, Boa Morte and Davenport. After staying up the West Ham fans was promised champions league football within 7 years and in the summer the Icelandic’s spent huge. Roughly £24m was splashed out on Bellamy, Parker, Dyer, Ljungberg, Solano and Faubert, and off course they would be on huge wages. It was later suggested that Dyer, who would go on to play only 30 times in four years for West Ham and on wages of around £70k a week, was signed just to bring a new face to the fans. This was hardly the transfer policy that makes a football club successful and sustainable.
During the 2007/2008 season the Icelandic economy went bust and that off course had an effect on West Ham. There were no summer signings in January and in the summer window only one signing, Behrami. The rest were loan signings from Italy. The thoughtless spending of Magnusson had caught up with them and we was in huge debt. The selling of players led to Curbishley leaving and ultimately sealed West Ham United’s long term fate. West Ham couldn’t afford an experienced high quality manager, so turned to Zola. The club were forced to sell £20m of talent in January 2009. But on the pitch Zola was doing a decent job and West Ham were pushing for a 7th place spot which would have given them European Football. West Ham failed to clinch a European spot and the financial woes would continue.
The following season West Ham was in a disastrous state, in around £100m of debt. Scott Duxbury had to bring payments from sponsorships and TV forward so that West Ham could survive in the present. This meant that in the future, the only money would come from ticket sales, player sales and reward money for where West Ham finished. This was a recipe for disaster and with the January window coming up fast and West Ham struggling in the league it was thought by many that the best players would leave in which would be one of the biggest fire sales witnessed in the English game.
In January 2010 Gold and Sullivan brought West Ham. They had ‘come home’ and you could hear the sigh of relief from East London. There was no fire sale, and West Ham stayed up. Yes, there was the signing of Benni McCarthy, who cost West Ham lots of money. Many fans give the David’s stick about ‘Benni big mac’ but the price they paid for him is nothing compared to the price of relegation that season. At the end of the season, the new chairman done what I know they think was a mistake. They sacked Zola, a young manager who had a great connection with the players and after keeping West Ham up, maybe deserved another chance. But with him sacked they brought in Grant. The less said the better.
The financial grief was still evident at Upton Park. The biggest signings were Winston Reid and Pablo Barrera. The rest were loan signings. The owners didn’t take a wage and they were both ploughing cash into Upton Park. The cutbacks were huge. Even George Osborne would have admired the cut backs. The work the David’s put into the club was excellent but it could not prevent West Ham going down. They brought some big names on big wages in January to try and keep West Ham up, but sadly couldn’t and after reducing of a fair bit of debt, it was back to square one as West Ham went into the Championship.
The summer of 2011 was supposed to be Armageddon for the Hammers. But in actual fact it has been the best summer I can remember for the club. Only one household name (Scott Parker) left and lots of deadwood released and replaced with exciting players who want to play for the club. Look at Kevin Nolan, the new skipper stepped down a division to play for the club. The amount of exciting young English talent at the Boleyn as well as experienced players is brilliant. Add this to a fantastic manager and there could be a recipe for success.
It is common knowledge that the wages are still high at West Ham but the transfer policy has gone from spending big money and big wages on people that don’t want to be at the club, to fairly big wages on players that want to be at Upton Park. Fans have to accept that big wages are part of football now, but you can still go about it in the right way and David Gold is certain the club is.
There are still things many people aren’t happy about such as ticket prices, just ask Durham at talksport on his view! But overall the David’s have done a remarkable job, not only have they saved West Ham United they have injected life into it. With the best squad for years and the best manager West Ham have had for about 13 years, as well as going into the Olympic Stadium the future will bright. Yes the club took a step back in order to take one mighty step forward but thanks to Gold and Sullivan and their good work this summer, West Ham fans once again have faith. And for that you must say well done and thank Gold and Sullivan.
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