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The long and the short of the transfer circus


Filed: Friday, 28th July 2017
By: Paul Walker


Short-termism is the new buzz word, and even our gloriously stocky leader David Sullivan admits it’s not the way he would want to do business.

My equally gloriously named colleague here on KUMB, Head Hammer Shark produced a near suicidal and very personal view this week on the state of the club he--and me too--have devoted our lives too.

And then Sullivan admits on his TalkSport interview that short-termism is not the way he would wish to work in the transfer market, but it’s what Slaven Bilic, quiet rightly in my view, wants to give us--a mid-table Premier League side with airy fairy delusions of grandeur --the best chance of survival in an industry that if you get it wrong means you end up like Blackburn, Portsmouth, Coventry, Nottingham Forest, Charlton or QPR--financially shafted with no way back to the big time.




Our old friend Jacob Steinberg on the Guardian picked up on Sullivan’s comments, and his genuine doubts about the long term aspects of our summer of rebuilding. And no doubt he had seen, as the true West Ham fan he is, HHS’s piece and the statistics he based his hugely depressing blog on.

Sullivan’s radio interviewing was an interesting assessment of how we are, and who we are. He is not my favourite club owner, as one or two of you might have noticed. Personally I dislike the way he made his money, but that’s probably my ageing prudishness. And I don’t like too much the ferocious way the move from the Boleyn was driven from Sully and our board.

But equally, I see no point now in dwelling on something we cannot do anything about. The old ground has gone, we are lumbered with the new one and folk have had to decide whether they are West Ham fans whatever, or they are not any longer.

The chance of a short term answer, with a newly built, sparkling supposed state of the art stadium was the blindingly obvious way forward for the chuckle brothers and ‘ four jobs’ Karren.(sure you can all work that one out!)

But in terms of the transfer market, he’s damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t. His quotes from TalkSport spelt out exactly the problem. He said: “We had a policy up to now to buy players for tomorrow not today. But we made a decision with the manager to buy players proven in the Premier League.

“Players have been here before, and who are of an age where they’re not being bought for tomorrow--but today.

“Long term is not a great strategy, but short term it is. Hopefully we’ll buy one or two more players , investments for the future, while at the same time doing what is best for the club.”




The choice is one I have been banging on about for some time. We cannot buy top-of-the range talent at £50m or so because they won’t come to us while we are not in Europe and giving them a clear path to the riches of Champions League participation.

The very best young talent will always look higher than us. It’s also not the best idea, as last summer proved, to risk big money on foreign players who end up being overwhelmed by the intensity and physicality of the Premier League.

You have Sullivan now admitting that Simone Zaza seemed indifferent. That Jonathan Calleri was out of his depth. The others he bought last summer were just not up to standard. That policy almost saw us relegated and the great master plan of our owners going the way of Tony Fernandes’ money at QPR.

We are trapped now in short-termism. We have to survive, season after season, in the top flight to keep the Sky money pouring in. Anything else will be a disaster of Leeds proportions.

But even now we have made four signings that are all gambles. We are being told that we should be grateful for Sullivan’s work, that we have signed top players. That he is some sort of a hero.

Now my heroes are Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, Johnny Byrne, Tony Cottee, Trevor Brooking, Billy Bonds, Alan Devonshire. You get the point, club owners need not apply, just do your job properly with dignity and acquired respect.

I am more relieved than grateful, because we have signed players I know are good professionals. That they are all on the downward slope from the very peak of their careers is another matter.




That is the consequences of who we are. Even with a fraud of a new stadium, one that was not fit for purpose last season in reality, we are still forced into a market that means we have to take risks. We are not able to spend £150m on three full-backs, one of whom can’t cross a ball to save his life!

All the new boys are an improvement on what we had previously. Pablo Zabaleta has been one of the best left-backs in the world. We will see whether his legs have gone like Alvaro Arbeloa. I don’t think so, however.

He may not have been quick enough for Pep Guardiola’s idealistic approach to the game, but he‘ll do OK for us.

Much the same applies to Joe Hart. I hope we see the ’keeper of two years ago, but one who had his confidence shot to pieces when Guardiolo told him he could not play sweeper and had to go. If Joe wants to go to the World Cup he has to hit the ground running with us, be commanding and keep clean sheets. His situation should have cleared his mind for the challenge ahead.

Then we have the maverick Marko Arnautovic. He has been good enough to play for Inter Milan under Jose Mourinho, who described him as a fine player but with the attitude of a child. He should get on well with Andy Carroll then!

There is great talent there but he has a ’crime sheet’ that would shock even Neil Ruddock, and that says something.

Up front we now have Javier Hernandez, a lovely finisher in the Jermain Defoe category, but who struggled to head the line at Manchester United when strength and power were the bye-word for top flight strikers.




So all gambles and all with something to prove. It should be fun, and I genuinely respect the work done by Sullivan and his transfer team in getting players like this to the London Stadium. They are the best of the bracket we are dealing in.

And at their age, they are for the short term. We need to survive, season on season. We need to establish ourselves in the top half like Everton have done. We need to put clear water between ourselves and Southampton, Stoke, West Brom,Swansea and now Newcastle.

That’s why short-termism is the only way for Sullivan and Bilic to go. Anything else leaves us wide-open to constant battles with relegation. Experience goes a long way, and as David Gold says..you don’t win anything with kids.


Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.







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