West Ham Disunited: Where the Calamity Never Ends

Years of delusion, unprofessionalism and poor decision making at West Ham have shown the next level promises to be a shambolic farce. If ever a club has been ill-prepared for a new season it is West Ham in 2020/21

I can’t remember a time when I have had less enthusiasm for the start of a new football season. Although partly due to the unusual circumstances that we are living through – forcing a foreshortened break and the absence of that slow build pre-season anticipation – the primary reason is undoubtedly the continued chaos and calamity that the club conjures up  for itself out of nowhere.

Having finished the post lockdown phase of the season in a relatively positive manner there should have been grounds for optimism in the face of a new campaign. All that was required was careful grown-up stewardship to address the obvious critical deficiencies in the squad, and then building on the hard work and collective team spirit that had been growing during the closing run of games.  What we got instead was the worst of all possible worlds – a malignant disharmony that has quickly spread throughout the club alienating owners, chief executive, manager, skipper, players and supporters. What could possibly go wrong with that as a preparation for a new season?

In days gone by, we might have laughed off supporting West Ham as a character building roller-coaster ride – but it is now a curious roller-coaster that travels only downwards. Starting a new season in turmoil; selecting from an even smaller squad of players; glaring weaknesses in defence left unaddressed; and a tough opening set of fixtures leads to only one conclusion. We are faced with yet another season of backs-to-the-wall attrition, where the only hope is there being three even more incompetent sides in division – it is difficult to see who these might be!

This will be West Ham’s ninth consecutive season in the top flight of English football. During that period the club have signed close to 75 players at a combined outlay of over £420 million (in transfer fees) and goodness knows how many millions frittered away in wages. That we have a squad that is little better in depth and quality than a promoted club is damning evidence of a club with no strategy and poor leadership. A board obsessed with short-term vanity signings at the expense of building for the future. As one newspaper article described the recruitment policy:

“And when age finally takes its toll, when the world stops waiting for you to become what it seemed you once could be, when you are written off with a dismissive shrug as a could-have-been then, in England at least, there are really only two places you can go: West Ham or Everton.”

In isolation I was ambivalent about the sale of Grady Diangana. I was not convinced that he would become a consistent Premier League performer but, on the other hand, he is an academy product (which we all love) and he could do no worse than several other of our very highly paid squad members. In a well run club he would have been given time to prove his worth but sadly West Ham is now a make do and mend operation, crippled by knee-jerk decision making and arrogance at Board level. Throwing money at Pellegrini and allowing him to appoint his mate as Director of Football was astonishingly foolish and will take years to recover from without a further injection of funds. The owners have created the chaos and we look to them to repair the damage. Either by shelling out or selling up.

Any pretence of building for another level is laughable. We can all see the king has got no clothes, so please stop telling us he has. It is clear that Gold and Sullivan do not have the competence to run a progressive football club and if they intend to stick around then they must bring in someone who understands what it takes to run a modern football – someone who knows the importance of scouting, recruitment, player development and training facilities – and is not just focused on shifting merchandise.

As for the season opener, West Ham entertain a Newcastle side who had hoped to be starting their own campaign under new ownership. Even so they have been busier in the transfer market than the Hammers (who hasn’t) and will be approaching the game in the more positive frame of mind.

The good news for David Moyes is that both Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek are available to start but beyond that he has no fresh options to call on. The famously leaky defence has not been reinforced and it is bare bones right across the backline – West Ham being the only club in the league who regard full-backs as optional extras.

Strangely, for a club that boasts only one recognised striker and little midfield creativity, scoring goals has not been a major problem in the recent past. Much will depend on the tireless endeavours of Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio to keep that record going. Maybe we will be surprised and Moyes will find a way to deploy the likes of Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini, Pablo Fornals and Andriy Yarmolenko that will justify at least part of their phenomenal wages.

Newcastle can now boast two players in Jonjo Shelvey and Callum Wilson who traditionally thrive in games against West Ham. Throw Saint-Maximin and Almiron into the mix and they carry more than enough threat to cause serious headaches to the West Ham rearguard – even at the best of times. In the current toxic atmosphere surrounding the London Stadium any outcome more positive than a draw is difficult to predict.

This weekend’s game is meant to be the easiest (on paper) of the opening sequence of Premier League games. If West Ham extend their opening day of the season losing streak to five games, then it is no leap of the imagination to suggest that we might find ourselves rock bottom after the first seven games on zero points.  Perhaps a late flurry in the transfer window can lighten the gloom but right now there is little cause for optimism. A season of real struggle awaits!

8 thoughts on “West Ham Disunited: Where the Calamity Never Ends”

  1. Your synopses of our much loved club is spot on. We have fallen either further behind the bottom half teams in the premier league, we are now a Championship mid table team at best. Relegation, rebuild, and get rid of all the disfunctionality out of the club. It’s all so sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right. It is sad isn’t it. I’ve always felt that we have a very loyal fan base who expect little other than to be entertained by a team that we can be proud of. We deserve better than this.

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    2. A fine piece of writing about a perennially sad topic (at least until they go). The astronomical amounts spent on Anderson and Haller, together with Wilshire’s huge wages, are foolish mistakes. Soucek looks a marvellous player, and Bowen also has quality, but I fear we are too dependent on Rice staying and Antonio running his heart out in a way that is not sustainable over a full season. Cresswell and Fredericks are too vulnerable at Premiership level and Diop has lost confidence. Lanzini and Fornals are lightweight for the rigours of the Premier League. Fornals has great eye for a pass but his style of play seems to me more suited to the less hectic Spanish League. If Ogbonna gets injured we are indeed in trouble. Fabianski may be key to our survival. Leeds under Bielsa will, I suspect, do a Wolves. The competition may this time be just too stiff, I’m afraid, for our fractured club.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks John. Agree with all your points. Rely far too much on a handful of players. I also think Leeds will have a decent season – more a Sheffield United than a Wolves to me, but the same outcome. Villa have also improved. Three from Fulham, the two Albions and us for the drop, unless something changes

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  2. I think you’re right Geoff, three- unfortunately – out of the four you mentioned. On the other hand Anderson might wake up and provide a stream of assists for a rejuvenated Haller, leaving us comfortably mid-table 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s very hard not to agree with everything said. My only crumb of comfort is that the current team performed well at the end of last season, despite still leaking goals. As a lifelong supporter, born well before our climb into the first division in 1958, I thought I’d seen it all, but I’m afraid the current ownership makes everything before it pale into insignificance. I may not be in the majority, but I believe we have a manager who could build something here, given decent backing. I’m not talking top four, but right now I would bite your hand off for the boredom of comfortable mid table safety.

    I’m trying to remain optimistic, but, regrettably, finding it more and more difficult with our total inactivity in the transfer (buying) market.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Len, Sounds like you are a few years ahead of me. I agree with the points that you make. We did start to look like a team at the end of last season and although a Moyes team is never likely to be spectacular I think he is perfectly capable of steadying the ship and creating a consistent top ten side – with the right support. It’s a bit of a dream to believe that any club can break into the top 4 on a consistent basis without being bankrolled by a benefactor with exceptionally deep pockets

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