The relationship between West Ham United fans with the club’s board has been conflicting for several year’s now. Ray Coombs delves into the ongoings at the club.
Historically, there has been unrest at West Ham United with clashes between the fans and the board frequent over the years. The longer the board’s tenure goes on, the more they become criticised by fan groups and some outside media sources, but is this justified? In 2018, there were horrific scenes at The London Stadium when there was a fan who invaded the pitch, when West Ham United hosted Burnley, and “Mr West Ham” Mark Noble was seen to tackle the intruder to the ground.
Although that has yet to happen again, partially because football is behind closed doors because of COVID-19, the failure of successfully negotiating the signings of the club’s top targets and sale of star players has led to further protest.
Has this been a successful transfer window for The Hammers?
West Ham historically have had poor transfer business. Co-Owners, David Gold and David Sullivan, have insisted on scouting for and negotiating the transfers for the club, which did not end well. The signing of Pellegrini bought a change in hierarchy and the David’s stepped back from transfers, as Mario Husillos came in as a director of football. This was welcomed by fans as high-profile signings like Sebastian Haller and Issa Diop was completed. However, after the departure of Pellegrini and Husillos, David Moyes came back, and the owners took control again.
The most recent summer transfer window saw West Ham be accused of “cost cutting”. Grady Diangana arrived back at Rush Green and left to back to Slaven’s West Brom within a few weeks for a deal reported to be worth around £12 million rising to £18 million with add-ons. This caused outrage amongst fans as they saw him to be a rising star and much needed flair on the left wing for West Ham. With high waged stars such as Felipe Anderson and Manuel Lanzini out of form, fans argue it would have made more financial sense to sell them and play the younger, more in form Diangana. Anderson has recently joined Porto on a season-long loan.
Mark Noble, usually quiet on social media, came out on Twitter to support the West Ham fans, openly criticising the board’s decision to sell the young prospect. Josh Cullen also was sold, in what I see to be another poor piece of business, to RSC Anderlecht for a deal worth around £1 million.
West Ham United’s midfield depth is now looking thin, as Jack Wilshire was released by mutual consent on transfer deadline day, as the £100,000 a week contract was proving too much for the club to pay for an out of form player. This was not the only deadline day drama, as the young England starlet Fikayo Tomori’s loan deal to the club fell through minutes before the transfer deadline.
With the outgoings freeing up some more much needed money, West Ham fans became eager to see who they were to bring in. Typically, West Ham were once again linked with an array of players ranging from right backs and centre backs to left wingers and midfielders, however proved to not be successful in signing any of their targets. The signing of Tomas Soucek counted as a summer deal as West Ham got the Czech on a permanent deal after a temporary loan spell.
A last minute of Vladimir Coufal from Slavia Prague, brokered by Soucek, was the only other signing. Although a positive performance against Leicester City on his debut, he still has to prove himself and has healthy competition for his position in Ryan Fredericks.
The transfer window as a whole is seen as a massive failure in the eyes of West Ham fans. They believe the club have made the already depleted squad bare, leaving little-to-no depth in most positions. The board argues that Diangana had to be sold as there are too many attacking players and wingers already at the club, and that more signings could not be made as COVID-19 hurt the club financially.
Are West Ham performing on the pitch?
West Ham ended last season in excellent form where they were unbeaten in their last four games and saw them take points against Chelsea and Manchester United and performing against relegation rivals Watford and Aston Villa. They have seemed to have taken that form into this season with convincing performances against Arsenal, Wolves and Leicester, where they got a whole seven points.
However, the first game of the season against Newcastle was poor where West Ham lost 2-0. Antonio has been on exceptional form, along with Soucek, Bowen and Ogbonna, the latter has recently been called up to the Italian squad for the upcoming international break. The performances are no doubt keeping most West Ham fans somewhat happy and quiet for now. Although, if the pleasant form ends, then the fans will surely plan to protest once again.
Will there be peace at the club?
It has divided West Ham United fans whether they want the owners to stay or go for nearly five years. As time goes on, and less of the targets set out by the owners are achieved, more and more of the fans are joining the GSB Out movement as protests become more prominent and Twitter feeds become more negative. They reported recent negative press that the GSB Out movement jumped with the transfer fee of Seb Haller not paid on time to Eintracht Frankfurt as the fee is being paid in instalments. This was seen to be “embarrassing” and “amateurish” from the board’s decision to delay the payments.
Before moving to The London Stadium, they promised West Ham fans European Football, top class players and large investments into squads and facilities. Apart from the Pellegrini era, which saw a spend of around £200 million, there has been little investment into the squad and facilities, with West Ham being a “sell to buy club”. These broken promises are the basis of the GSB Out movement as the fans have now lost their spiritual home in Upton Park permanently, only the best performances and the best teams will help reach the promises made to take West Ham away from their home.
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