I decided to write this column on the back of transfer deadline and how I think the window has gone for us on the whole.
If you had asked me this question a week ago I would have told you that I was very pleased. I felt we needed a new goalkeeper to challenge Adrian-We got England’s number one. I wanted a proper right back-we got one of the best Premier League Right backs in recent years on a free, although I felt he was a short term fix given his age. He also brought much needed leadership too. I wasn’t too sure on the signing of Arnaultovic although I trusted Bilic as he was the target he really wanted, he had played some very good games against us in the past and we all know what a signing Hernandez is. Add to this we brought in the highly talented and skilful Montenegro international youngster, Sead Haksabanovic (yes I did look up that spelling) and it was all looking good.
I was under the impression that we would sign Carvalho and that this deal was very close and this was from various sources. I was pleased with this and felt it might sure up the goals that we were leaking as I had heard he was a top draw player. I also felt we could do with a new forward because you cannot rely on Sakho and Carroll for anything and if Hernandez got injured we would be in big trouble. I would also have brought in a new winger too after Snodgrass left. So when this didn’t happen it turned being a good window for me into one that didn’t deliver enough in terms of squad depth or net spend.
Now there are two arguments to each story of blame here with the window and I will attempt to look at both. It is the natural and understandable assumption that my information comes from the Sullivan’s and only them but this really isn’t the case, in fact I have found it very frustrating how little they will tell me when I see other sites being fed information all the time. My sources are luckily quite wide and in various different departments some of which are very close to the manager and players, so I try to be as balanced as I can in my opinions. Anyone who has listened to the radio show will know I have criticised the board and if you look at our events slogan “Fed up with soulless Stratford” you would see that I am not as brown nosing as is always implied.
I have been told many times throughout the window, from various people, that Slaven didn’t want to sign any more players other than Carvalho. This is something that he also stated himself in interviews. I found this absolutely shocking, it was apparently his decision not to pursue Iheanacho and then not sign other targeted forwards. The more I heard about this the more wound up I got, surely experience of previous seasons shows Carroll and Sakho cannot be replied on.
Bilic also stated that he wanted domestically proven players and he wasn’t interested in bringing in unproven players who have not played in the Premier League. This I don’t understand because Carvalho was unproven in the Premier League but because of this he apparently turned down Renato Sanches and Grzegorz Krychowiak. Both players would have been massive additions to our squad and would have been what made this a good window for us if they had both joined us on loan. I am still left baffled by this; did he really turn them down?!
Following the Newcastle defeat, having defended Bilic against the two other presenters and good friends (Dave and Kev-SDCC) on The West Ham Way Radio for a long time now, I found it very hard to excuse the performance. Let’s face it, if we had won the first three games the atmosphere around the club would feel very different and we possibly wouldn’t have been as disappointed by the final outcome of the window. The truth is we have performed dreadfully, team selection has been all wrong, we don’t look fit and the tactics have been dire. The buck lays with Bilic on this and not the board.
After the Newcastle game however there would have been the time to get rid of the manager if the board had lost confidence, which I believe they have, like many fans now. The decision to keep him on and then not sign the player he wanted makes me question why this has happened?! Was it financial reasons we didn’t get rid of Bilic? Are they going to wait until someone else becomes available? Or do they really believe he is the man to take us forward?-if so they should have backed him and not released yesterday’s statement. It is quite simple: Back or sack your manager but somehow we have met in the middle!
I have heard many reasons as to why we didn’t sign Carvalho from the club. These have ranged from “Not representing value for money” “Clearly isn’t that good because no top clubs have tried to sign him” “The player isn’t fit” “Sporting are hard to deal with” to the strange revelation that we would have signed him but Sporting accepted the offer too late for a medical.
I find all of these very hard to believe. Firstly our net spend has been minimal this window so whether we thought he was slightly overpriced or not we should have signed him because the figure that was spoke off wasn’t that high in this market given the calibre of the player. Secondly, if top six clubs were trying to sign him, he wouldn’t have joined West Ham, so that would actually be a good thing. Thirdly, the player isn’t fit and will not be able to play for us for three weeks-he played for the current Euro Champions Portugal yesterday and scored and got an assist so that clearly doesn’t wash. Fourthly, a number of clubs from England have dealt with Sporting this window and none of them found it difficult to complete the deal. The fifth one and the one that has given me the most questions is Sporting accepted our bid but it was too late for a medical? There is a Premier League agreement which says you can sign a player, subject to a medical and complete the medical at another point. It just doesn’t add up for me.
My question marks about the deal were written before the statement came out from Sporting officials claiming that David Sullivan did in fact not make an official bid for the Portugal midfielder and accused him of “lying”. This is very concerning. Whilst at this point we cannot say whether it is true or not because Sporting maybe trying to avoid the £5m that they had to pay the player if he remained at the club, Sullivan is going to have to prove that he did otherwise there will severe question marks on his integrity. If it then transpires to be true and he didn’t bid; lying to your close contacts, manager and more importantly fans is not acceptable.
The other question I have as well when it comes to Slav not wanting players is that in the past the board have still gone ahead with them despite the wishes of the manager sometimes. The fact that David Sullivan released a statement saying that Slav was offered both Renato Sanches and Grzegorz Krychowiak and didn’t want them, why didn’t we just sign them anyway, particularly if we are thinking of replacing the manager at some point soon too?
The problem I think many fans have is that we are often linked with and in the past promised big name signings: Bathsuayi, Lacazette, Bacca and now Carvalho and it seems our regular inability to land these players builds up expectations but also makes you question how genuine our intentions are to sign these players now? Yes it would always be difficult to land top class players but if it is a question of us not reaching the asking price then this is not what we were promised when we moved.
Moving to the new stadium was meant to project us onto the next level and make us compete with the best and be challenging for Champions League football. A number of things that we were told about the stadium have proven to not be entirely accurate and this is becoming a worrying trend because you can now throw in the non-spent “increased budget” too.
We were told that the club was operating a one out and one in transfer policy towards the end of the window yet players left and no one came in. I was told that the club did offer players to Slaven and he turned many of them down. The problem here is that Slaven Bilic hasn’t given his take on the story. He has said in interviews that he is happy with his squad but how does he feel about Carvalho not coming in and did he turn down all these top players? It is his time to speak. Yes I understand it makes his position difficult and he may not wish to be unprofessional but his reputation will be in tatters if this proves to be true and he doesn’t turn it around with results. He needs to come out and let us know. There are ways to do it for example “Yes, I did turn down these players as I didn’t think they would benefit us” or “The players that have been mentioned were not names given to me or at the time were not transfers that we would have been able to conclude”
I offered David Sullivan the chance to come on our radio show but it wasn’t accepted (not directly by him) but I think it would be a good move to answer some of the many questions our fans have and hopefully go some way to appeasing the fans. David Sullivan was also advised not to put out the statement on Bilic that he did but he wanted to do so. I think he should either meet the accounts that Brady has or open a forum to fans to apply to attend. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do this with Brady and previous chairmen and it is a good way for them to answer their critics.
A very frustrating event occurred on the West Ham Way twitter account on deadline day. There are about 10 people who have access to the account and they were spread across the world at that time (Malta, Northern Ireland, Marbella, Essex, USA ) although only one person was tweeting; BKHammer from Northern Ireland who is very Anti Bilic and Anti Board. His tweets were showing from Malta, Northern Ireland and most significantly Marbella. Understandably this made suspicions that Jack or Dave Jnr had tweeted the Bilic comments. This is what I had thought when I first saw them having got back from the pub with a couple of West Ham friends. My first action was to question both Sullivan’s and they said it wasn’t them and then to check with our admins of which BKHammer laid claim to the tweets. Now I understand why some people are continuing to not believe me when I say this but I actually would rather they had tweeted it. The tweets got a lot of exposure for the account and had I confirmed it was them, the profile of the account would have grown. Unfortunately this was not the case and this can be proven to anyone who would like to come to our events at the East Ham Working Man’s club. Here is the link for the tickets where Mark Ward is our guest before the Spurs game and will be speaking his mind: bit.ly/TWHWTICKET11 The abuse Jack and Dave Jnr get on social media is quite simply is not on, admittedly both would admit they haven’t helped themselves at times however. Neither of them control what is going on at the club and actually Jack has made a very positive start leading the ladies team. Had they tweeted those comments about the manager they would have deserved a backlash but in all honesty they didn’t.
I don’t doubt for one second that the Sullivan’s probably feel the same way as our admins though. Jack had access to the account when it first started because he did a number of Q and As for us and he must still have the login on his phone hence Marbella coming up. He hasn’t done anything for the website and twitter in a long while now. I know how it looks and if I was lying I wouldn’t go to all this trouble to say I am not. At the end of the day none of the tweets had anything to do with me but I feel it is important to put this message out.
The manager and the chairmen are now under a lot of scrutiny and really need something positive to turn us around. The only positives I can think of at the moment is that we did sign five good players, we kept Lanzini and we have a nearly fully fit squad to choose from. Another good thing would be some of the youth players such as Nathan Holland and Dan Kemp getting a chance to play if injuries do occur. Results have played a big part in the negativity that cannot be forgotten.
The bottom line is the fans need questions answered. Ms Brady said to us at the Bloggers meeting that this would be our best window and that a substantial budget was being prepared for players. Again, we haven’t seen this and whilst this is not really anything to do with her it is yet another failed promise. I think the club need to think very carefully about statements and promises that are made because it seems more often than not they are not fulfilled. The board may have the initial intentions of meeting these pledges but too frequently they haven’t and it just creates resentment. West Ham fans are a passionate bunch and one thing that won’t be tolerated is false promises and lies. The club really needs to think about this going forward and start delivering the big statements to go some way to appeasing the negativity that has been created now. I am stating the obvious here but the Huddersfield game is huge for everyone involved. A good performance will shift things in the right way, a bad performance and things will continue to turn very toxic.
We will be talking about this in a lot more detail on the radio show on Wednesday at 7pm.