Owners and manager at odds
16 August ~ If the health and wellbeing of a club at the start of the season can be judged by their work in the transfer market over the summer then West Ham should be approaching today’s game against Tottenham Hotspur and the season as a whole with confidence. The signing of Ecuador World Cup star Enner Valencia has been accompanied by the arrival of two promising youngsters from the Championship – Aaron Cresswell and Diego Poyet – plus striker Mauro Zarate, midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate and Carl Jenkinson on a season-long loan from Arsenal.
With no first-team regulars leaving the squad looks stronger than it has done for a number of years. However, as is so often the case with West Ham, a crisis of their own making never seems far from the surface.
The relationship between manager Sam Allardyce and club chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan appears to have deteriorated to such a point that both parties took to the media over the later part of the summer to snipe at the other. The marriage of convenience between the two has shown signs of strain since the end of last season after a meeting in which the club owners demanded Allardyce improve the entertainment value of the football he is producing. He was also ordered to bring in an attacking coach and shortly after Teddy Sheringham returned to the club.
For some who had to sit through a host of miserable performances last season, the demands from the club hierarchy were not unreasonable. There is also a section of the club’s supporters, possibly now in the majority, who have had enough of Allardyce’s tactics and have made their feelings clear through social media and votes on fan websites. But by demanding their manager play a certain way, the owners have undermined him and given him a ready-made excuse should things not go to plan starting against Tottenham.
The absence of £15 milion striker Andy Carroll from the line-up against Spurs has opened up another front between manager and owners. The former Newcastle forward has been ruled out for four months with an ankle injury, a diagnosis which saw Sullivan state in an interview that the club had been wrong to sign the player in the first place; this comment would not have gone down well with a manager who will eventually have to motivate the fit-again striker.
Add in David Gold retweeting a call for Allardyce to leave, Sullivan’s teenage son breaking club news before the official press announcement through his Twitter account and a set of pre-season results which included just a single win and you wonder if, despite the positive signings, the club could be drawn into a relegation battle. And just two years before the move to the Olympic Stadium, that would be unthinkable. Mark Segal