Filed: Tuesday, 9th November 1999
By: Graeme Howlett
Five games since the last report; three draws (Sunderland, Steaua and Chelsea) and two defeats (Liverpool and Leeds).
So. According to rumour, Paul Kitson wants to leave West Ham United. The player we rescued from a Geordie wilderness has had enough of getting splinters up his arse from too much bench warming and wants to further his career elsewhere. So what do we think?
Opinion appears to be fairly evenly split on this one. On one hand, it's been said that he hasn't been given a fair crack of the whip. Why hasn't he replaced Wanchope when the big fella has failed to score in eleven outings? Surely he deserves a run in the team?
On the other hand, the view I subscribe too - Paul Kitson just isn't good enough. Let's take a look at his record.
Kitson was brought to West Ham in February 1997 for a fee of £2.3m. He was at the time languishing in the Newcastle reserves, unable to command a first team place up there. Hang on, no, he wasn't even in the reserves - the Geordies didn't have a reserve team at the time, so effectively he wasn't playing at all. A bloody lot of cash for an idle player.
Figures aside, he came to Upton Park with fatty Hartson and, lets be honest, kept us in the Premiership that season. Who could forget that game against Spurs in the wind at the Boleyn, when he scored the most outrageous header I've ever seen - literally twisting his body snakelike to crane his neck around the ball, like some kind of freaky sideshow contortionist.
But what since? Well, a little research concludes that in nearly three years as a Hammer, he's played just 42 games. That works out at roughly £55,000 per match, based on his transfer fee alone. Not forgetting of course his ample salary, believed to be in the region of £500,000 per year. So some simple maths tells me Paul Kitson has so far cost West Ham United FC somewhere in the region of £4m.
But what about all the goals he's scored I hear you cry? What goals, I reply. Sixteen in total - at a cost of £250,000 per goal. Yes, a quarter of a million pounds per goal. Still think he's been a good investment?
You could argue that he hasn't had a long enough run to prove his worth, or that injury has prevented him from showing his best form. But this is exactly why we should be waving goodbye. I've never known a player to miss so many games through injury. We've had groin strains, ankle injuries, flu, more bloody groin strains - the list is endless. I'd hate to see what kind of condition he'd be in if he wasn't a professional athlete. He must have been the kid at school with the perpetually runny nose; the one who always had an excuse to miss PE. Christ, they should have him on display at Barts or somewhere similar as an example of just how much injury and illness one man can suffer.
Maybe I'm being a little harsh, but I think Harry is spot on with this one. Kitson has had long enough to prove his worth, and it's now time to move on. Don't get me wrong, I like the guy - he's always came across as a quiet, unassuming fella who gets on with things without a song and dance - but I just don't think he's a Premiership player.
Question is, how are we going to recoup the £2.3m we spent on him? Redknapp has apparently told the press he'll listen to offers over and above £1.5m - but who is going to pay that much for a player with such a long list of injuries and ailments?
In the Premiership I can see only a few teams that might be interested in Kitson - Watford, Bradford and possibly Leicester (his first club). Other than these three I cannot see anyone being interested. Of course, he could do well in the first division, but there aren't too many clubs down there with that much cash to splash. Wolves maybe?
It's been clear for a while now that we need another striker. With the departure of Ian Wright to various footballing destinations this season we're once again left with the proverbial 'bare bones'. And if Kitson does bugger off we're left with just Wanchope and Di Canio as recognised strikers - although tricky Trev would relish the opportunity to once again lead the attack.
But knowing Harry Redknapp, I would be very surprised if he hasn't already covered this possibility. So I'll stick my neck out and predict that by the time my next report is filed we'll be boasting a top-class replacement that will leave us all asking 'Paul who?'
Question is, who? Home grown talent isn't exactly rife at the moment. There's the boy Hughes at West Brom who's been banging them in like there's no tomorrow, and Marcus Stewart of Huddersfield who Harry was known to be interested in a couple of seasons back. But we'd probably be looking at £3m plus for either of these at the moment, such is the state of the domestic market. Of course there's always Collymore - okay, I'll get my coat ...
So maybe it's abroad we must look to once again. Ravenelli is apparently up for grabs for £1.5m - a proven Premiership goalscorer, but could we afford his wages? Then there's the likes of Weah and Boksic, both currently out of favour in Serie A. Again the wages are likely to be the stumbling block here.
Whatever Harry and the board decide to do, they must decide quickly. One goal in seven games has seen us suffer a steep fall into mid-table obscurity - without someone to put the ball in the back of the net it could get much, much worse ...
Last report I told of how the Internet Irons were off to Leicester to defend the M'Duck Cup they won last October. So it pleases me no end to to be able to inform you that we only went and won the bloody thing again!
In all honesty the opposition was of a slightly lower standard than last year - but of course the games still had to be won.
We got off to a flier, thrashing Stockport 4-1, before beating Man.Utd and Southampton 1-0 and 2-1 respectively to finish top of our qualifying group. In the quarter-finals we faced Birmingham, who had beaten us in both of our two previous meetings. This was probably our best performance of the day, as we ran out 3-0 winners.
So to the semi-final where we faced Huddersfield. After a hard-fought game (in which I gave away a penalty before the ref noticed the lino - sorry, referee's assistant - had already flagged for offside hehe) penalties were called upon to decide the winners after a nil-nil draw. Somehow we won, despite missing our first two penalties - 4-3 after the five statutory penalties plus three from either side in sudden death. Hero was undoubtedly keeper Darren Pasley, who managed to pull off four saves from the eight penalties he faced.
The final was quite bizarre. Played in almost total darkness (because the bloke with the keys to the floodlights had buggered off) the game was reduced to one half of fifteen minutes. This was great for us as we were already one-nil up at the time of the refs decision - not so great for the opposition (Colchester) who had just seven minutes to get the goal back - which they couldn't do.
So despite the manner of victory we were all chuffed to bits to win the trophy again. It will be proudly displayed at Upton Park alongside last years trophy. Bloody hell, if it wasn't for us and the youth team that cabinet would probably be bare by now!
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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