“Give Me Just A Little More Time” was a 1970 top ten hit for Michigan based US soul band Chairman of the Board (the song was later recorded by Aussie songstress, Kylie Minogue). This week our own Chairman of the Board, David Sullivan took to the airwaves to celebrate what has largely been acknowledged as a triumphant week of West Ham transfer dealings. During his interview Sullivan accepted that by focusing on proven and experienced ability (i.e. older players) the club had adopted a short term view for its player recruitment. In effect, we need to give him (and the rest of the Board) a little more time before that promised assault on the next level becomes a reality.
The problem is that breaking out of a short term strategy carries the same degree of difficult with each successive season. It is a dilemma. Buy experience players to ensure survival and you have no resale value to re-invest plus an ageing squad. Buy youngsters from lesser leagues and it is a gamble where anyone who excels is looking for better things after two years in any case; albeit with a tidy profit.
Overall it was a reasonable interview by Sullivan although there was some licence with the way it was subsequently reported turning a reasonable commitment to be competitive in all of the competitions that West Ham entered into a claim that the club were looking to win the Premier League. I think many of us would be more than happy with a top half finish and some exciting cup runs.
The other comment catching the attention of the headline writers were those suggesting Javier Hernandez might be the best player West Ham have ever signed (although I wasn’t sure whether ever in this context only related to the Gold and Sullivan era or to all-time). Although I am more than happy to see Hernandez in a West Ham shirt I think I will wait a while before hailing him as the new messiah. Until we see how Slaven Bilic integrates a player who is used to playing as part of a front two into his own system it will be impossible to assess his eventual effectiveness.
There were also some hints that there could yet be more London Stadium arrivals during the transfer window although this was offset against a ‘One In One Out’ policy and the need to ‘balance the books’ with that old chestnut the £100m debt once again rearing its head.
I guess ‘One In One Out’ makes some sense in that there is only a finite squad size but I hope that we would not pass up on a great deal simply because we hadn’t been able to shift some left over deadwood. There is continued speculation that Feghouli will be off to Turkey quite soon plus other assorted rumours concerning bids for Ayew, Snodgrass, Fletcher and Adrian. How an Adrian departure might work leaving the club with just one on-loan keeper is a mystery but I wouldn’t lose any sleep over any of the others taking their boots elsewhere. I would really liked for Ashley Fletcher to have worked out but, to me, he doesn’t have the balance or gait of a natural athlete. So if that results in five out then we should reasonably expect another five in; and please let one of them be Moussa Dembele!
Bringing up the subject of the debt was rather disingenuous given that much of this (although not all) are loans owed to the Board themselves. As I understand it, the club is clear of bank debt although it does have an external credit facility borrowed against future TV revenues. There is no incentive for the Board to repay their own loans and so the figure is unlikely to change over time; so please stop mentioning it! Although the concept of a transfer budget or war chest doesn’t really exist in isolation from other costs such as player wages (apart from in the media) our net spend on player trading remains modest in what is otherwise a red hot market. Revenues must surely be up considerably with the new TV deal and stadium and so ambition should be reflected by directing much of this to recruitment.
Another Chairman in the news this week was everyone’s favourite Bond villain, Daniel Levy, expressing his views that the escalation of transfer fees and wages in the Premier League are not sustainable. It is difficult to argue with him on that one as the agenda is largely set by clubs who are immune from normal business practices. In terms of revenues Spurs have massively over-achieved in the last two seasons; they are way behind the big five clubs and find themselves in a difficult position trying to compete. They have also performed well in recent years in player trading but are unable to match the salaries offered by the elite teams. It is only a matter of time before their major assets (players and manager) jump ship for larger rewards. The construction of their new stadium will also take its toll and it was amusing that Levy could not stop himself from having a sly dig by mentioning that it was being built without state aid.
“Give Me Just A Little More Time” was written by prolific Motown songwriters Holland, Dozier and Holland but someone who may not need much more time is Nathan Holland, if reports coming out of the West Ham training camp are to be believed. I had previously mentioned him as looking lively during the Austria warm up games and as Slav loves a winger I am hoping we get to see more of him during the season. Please no loan deal with a club likely to be fighting a League 1 relegation battle.