With players like Robert Green, Matthew Upson, Carlton Cole, Mark Noble and Scott Parker, with a great spine for a mid-table club, so why were they relegated yesterday!

Poor management, Poor signings, Poor leadership of the club are the three main reasons. Normally you would be attributing relegation with poor player performances, but with this season Carlton Cole, Matthew Upson and Scott Parker have all earned England call ups, with Scott Parker winning the writers player of the year. Mark Noble has also had a good season, with many looking at him to take over from Scott Parker as he gets older, and Robert Green has not made the gaffs he has done in the past.

West Ham’s have had bad luck for many years since their first relegation 2002/2003. Some players did not stay and fight for promotion such as David James, Jermaine Defoe. But over the next few seasons with some good signings and good performances they gained promotion and in the 2005/2006 season were back in the Premiership.

Poor Management

In 2006 Eggert Magnússon and Björgólfur Guðmundsson bought the club. West Ham were involved in another relegation battle, which they won. On 13 December 2007, Magnússon 5 per cent was bought by club majority owner Björgólfur Guðmundsson. On 8 June 2009, Icelandic CB Holding which is 70% owned by Straumur-Burdaras bank and 30% owned by Icelandic based banks Byr and MPtook over Hansa Holding, which only had West Ham United as their asset and filed for bankruptcy protection. Straumur was one of Hansa Holding’s largest creditors. Straumur appointed one of their directors, Andrew Bernhardt, as the new chairman.

During those years West Ham had to deal with the signings of Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez. The fans loved the signings, but were also worried as to how it happened. It had everyone wondering just how this was pulled off. But when the details came out and the repercussions were felt, it didn’t seem like the best deal. Luckily West Ham were not deducted points and stayed in the Premiership but were fined £5.5 million.

In January 2010, David Sullivan and David Gold acquired a 50 percent share in West Ham, from CB Holding, given them overall operational and commercial control.

At the end of May 2010 both David Gold and David Sullivan purchased a further 10% stake in the club at a cost of £8million (£4m to CB Holdings LTD, £4m towards club debts). This took their controlling stake to 60%, they also announced that in the near future they may open up shares for fans to purchase. On 9 August 2010, Gold and Sullivan increased their shares up to 30.6% each with “minority investors”, (which included former owner Terry Brown), purchasing a further 3.8% of the club at a cost of around £3-4million leaving Straumur Bank owning 35% of the club

The fans have not been happy with the performance of Gold and Sullivan or Karen Brady. The unrest they brought onto the club, with the then manager Gianfranco Zola saw him fired even though he managed to keep them in the Premiership after a very tough relegation battle. They then hired Avram Grant. Not seen as a good decision in anyone’s eyes, except Gold, Sullivan and Grant.  Then there was the decision to move into the Olympic Stadium. The fans never wanted the move, but it seems clear that owners never cared much for what the fans wanted, but made decisions on what they thought was best for the club. In the end it may work out to be a good move, but only if West Ham can get back into the Premiership as quickly as possible.

Poor signings

The signings of the past year and the performances of them have been a failing of West Ham.  With wage bills and transfer fees for the players over the years has always been in contention. West Ham had 4 players on loan, Victor Obinna from Inter Milan, Tal Ben Haim from Portsmouth, Robbie Keane from Tottenham Hotspur, and Wayne Bridge from Manchester City. Ben Haim was only there for half a season, and Wayne Bridge and Robbie Keane came in during the January transfer window. Apart from Obinna who put in some good performances, the loan signings did not give the impact that was desired, and the wage bills paid probably did not help West Hams finances.  Some players were brought in on free transfers, and although they did not have to pay for the transfer in these deals there is normally a higher fee for the agent and a higher signing on fee for the player. The players brought in on free transfers were Lars Jacobsen from Blackburn Rovers and Thomas Hitzlsperger from Lazio. Hitzlsperger was unfortunate to have injured himself during pre-season and made his debut against Burnley in the F.A Cup on February 21st 2011, He has been impressive for West Ham as he has got fitter, and it’s a shame that he was unable to play for the whole season.

The transfers of Winston Reid from Midtjylland for a fee of around £3m and Pablo Barrera from Pumas for a fee of around £3.5m can be seen as flops as with a combined cost of around £6.5 million they have made 21 combined appearances for west ham.   Frederic Piquionne was bought from Lyon for around £1m. A player that was on loan at relegated Portsmouth with Avram Grant and who only managed 5 gaols never looked like a player that was going to do better than what West Ham already had at the club with Carlton Cole and youngster Zavon Hines. Even though he has managed a better goal scoring record at West Ham, it still seems a poor signing. Demba Ba from Hoffenheim looks to have been the best transfer out of all the free signings and loans signings or transfers having scored 7 goals in 12 games.

West Ham over the years with the different owners have thrown money around at players hoping that it will stick, and it just doesn’t seem as if there has been any real leadership on who would be good to sign for the club for the now or the future.

Poor leadership

West Ham is not new to battling against relegation, and in the 2009/2010 season it was no different. Gianfranco Zola was the manager at the time, and led them to safety, albeit narrowly, but the fans loved him, and loved the way they played football. The fans may not have always loved the results, but it was attacking football and that is what West Ham are used to and demand it from their team. So when he was fired the fans were left disappointed, angry and confused, and worried what direction the club is going to go in with their new owners acting in the ways they did.

The fans did not get any reassurance when Avram Grant was appointed manager, leaving relegated Portsmouth to do so. From the outset, you could see that Avram Grant was not the type of manager the fans wanted, as they want someone that is going to show passion, show anger, show the emotions they are feeling, as well as playing good football. But under Grant’s management that was never really to be the way football was played.

He is an unexciting manager, and doesn’t seem to inspire. He didn’t seem to inspire at Chelsea, he didn’t seem to inspire at Portsmouth, and he doesn’t seem to have inspired at West Ham, so what is it Gold and Sullivan saw in Grant, as it was not his motivational skills.

During his time in charge of West Ham, they have managed to secure some big wins, the 4-0 against Manchester united in the Carling Cup is a great example of that, but in the league they have only managed 7 wins. The biggest problems for West Ham were not just scoring goals, but when they did keeping a lead. Two stand-out examples of this are the results against Manchester united, where they were 2-0 up at half time, but ended up losing 3-2 and most the most poignant result was yesterdays 3-2 loss to Wigan. Having the lead West Ham seemed to lose all confidence when Wigan scored their first goal. An inspirational manager would be able to rally round his players and make sure they stick to the plan and keep their discipline and win the game, giving themselves half a chance on the final day of the Premiership. But that didn’t happen, and West Ham fell, albeit valiantly in attack, but sank like a rock in defence, in a last ditch attack.

The Future

It seems clear that maybe relegation would be good for West Ham, as they will be able to clear away the deadwood that is rotting away the club, but that means getting rid of the poor players that are getting wages that are way to high for the club to pay, as well as having to reluctantly sell their best players for half the price they deserve. They have already got rid of the manager, but really, the owners have to take responsibility and step away from the club, and put it in the hands of people that know what they are doing. And that either means sell up and leave or get in a manger and leave him to run the club, as well as employ people that know how to run a football club, not just as a business but also as what it is and like a community.


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