The same as it ever was

It can only be West Ham, surely? Here we are on the brink of a new season after the best two back-to-back league campaigns in our history, and with soon to be £100m spent - but not, of course, without the usual mayhem in the transfer market. Well, it is us.

But even with the added stress this week of another high profile transfer breaking down, seemingly, somehow the club has also managed to pick a fight with a sizeable proportion of their long-term fans as we prepare to face with some trepidation the champions and one of the best club sides in the world in our season opener on Sunday.

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After the last outstanding campaign and Europa League semi-final, and a second successive European qualification, we should be brimming with confidence - but it’s not quite like that, is it?

Still the doubts about David Moyes persist. Even before the transfer window had even opened officially, some nutjob was circulating a poll on social media asking whether the manager should be sacked. Seriously.

He’s still getting loads of stick about the current transfer situation. We aimed to spend further on Amadou Onana at £30m plus and Maxwell Cornet at £17m - the release clause of the Will Salthouse client. Well, he would be, wouldn’t he!

The Onana deal looks dead in the water, but even without that fee it would take Moyes’ spending close to £100m this summer, our biggest ever one-window splurge, ahead of the season’s opener against Manchester City. And with a month still left in the window, there certainly has to be more to come. OK, so it’s us, but surely?

But this is not right, we all can see that. New faces on Sunday will be at a premium. New £30m defender Nayef Aguerd, injured in pre-season may not play until December. £35m striker Gianluca Scamacca is considered short of fitness we hear and at £12m, Flynn Downes is likely to be on the bench. We’ve all seen Alphonse Areola before. So it’s last season’s lot facing City. It can only be us.

The frustration amongst our fan base is palpable. We were promised, expecting so much more. So the utter nonsense from the club over the new digital season tickets could have been timed better. Several weeks ago would have been nice, proper consultation with fans would have been nice, not being told, “this is it, take it or lump it,” would have been nice.

For some context, the entire Premier League is going digital but we were one of only seven clubs who refused to offer an alternative for fans who do not have smart phones or are uncertain with the new technology. Not everyone is smart and clever, many of our older, long-term fans, in particular.

The lack of empathy was appalling, from the club and from the younger, clever dicks amongst our fans who insist this is all so easy so get on with it or stop coming to matches. Sadly that’s a common theme these days amongst the population, who frankly couldn’t give a toss about older, poorer, more vulnerable folk.

The fact that an 88 year-old fan, in a revealing Daily Mail feature by Matt Barlow, had to get on the Central Line and go the stadium box office himself as he was so worried - having no idea of the emails that had been issued - s a scandal.

It took efforts from supporters group Hammers United and a petition that acquired over 4,000 signatures in 24 hours to get our beloved club to see sense. I don’t know who is responsible for such a tone deaf approach. It comes under ticket office boss Nicola Keye’s domain you would think, but clearly the responsibility for it all goes much higher up the food chain.

Initially the first concession was that plastic cards were only available to those over 75 or the disabled. Then it reverted to over 65s, and by the end of 48 hours the club had gone full Liz Truss and produced a complete u-turn, allowing anyone who wanted a plastic card to have one while issuing an email that allowed fans to print off their ticket. Just like last season, then.

The ticket office, it seems, was open later. More staff were drafted in and what was clearly going to be a shambles on Sunday was averted, we hope. The fact that the club phone lines were totally inadequate - fans were waiting an hour plus to get through, at vast cost - and emails weeks old were not being answered is something else this club needs to address.

They should not be dragged, kicking and screaming, into a sensible, user-friendly position like they have this week. It goes without saying that Sunday will be monitored by Hammers United and frankly many will approach the stadium issues with some trepidation.

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And there’s football too, yet another transfer disaster as it’s being portrayed by so many just days before the season starts.

We had, seemingly, been chasing Lille’s giant young midfielder Amadou Onana all summer and upped our bid to £33.5m. This was accepted by the French club only for West Ham to discover the ridiculous wages being asked by his agent. His sister it seems, who part owns the agency that looks after the 20-year-old Belgian.

Now the club have got something of a reputation for leaking details of transfers that have gone wrong - Jesse Lingard springs to mind - to spread the blame somewhat. So the figure of £135,000 a week was quickly floated , which would have made the 20 year-old our biggest earner. So there’s no way that could be considered. Our offer had been around £65,000 a week, not bad for a youngster on £15,000 a week.

It didn’t take long for Everton to start hijacking the deal and Frank Lampard is supposed to have spoken to the player already. Will they pay the £33m and the player’s exorbitant wage demands? Who knows, but you can bet there will be a compromise between £65,000 and £135,000.

Either way we are still looking for the potential replacement for when Declan Rice goes, probably next summer seems to be the favourite time. That is what this is all about. Rice’s position has hung over the recruitment policy for two windows now, and must be giving Moyes and Rob Newman nightmares.

So Onana looks to have gone the way of Lingard, Kalvin Phillips, Raphinha, Darwin Nunez, Filip Kostic and Piotr Zielinski, to name just a few.

A rival fan of my acquaintance described us recently as the ‘worst finisher of transfers in the country.’ Many of our fans would not disagree with that; it’s a long stream of leaked targets, rumours and disinformation by client fans sites and social media bloggers.

It’s the same every window, and Slaven Bilic and Sam Allardyce had the same problems that Moyes is encountering at a club where there is constant interference in transfers, seemingly, from outside of the people who are supposedly the ones doing the job.

The same old agent mates of the chairman crop up in every window, seemingly every deal, and you wonder just how long Moyes will put up with the never-ending situation.

He has a European campaign less than a fortnight away, almost certainly against Viborg in the European Conference play off with the Danish side being 3-0 ahead from their first leg against Faroe Island side B36 Torshavn. The first leg of West Ham’s tie is on August 18, and the return on the 25th.

And that home tie is already beset with problems. It falls on the day of another rail strike, with hardly any trains running. Long-distance fans like yours truly already know we will not be able to get to the match.

Two more of West Ham’s early season matches will also be affected: the trip to Nottingham Forest on 14 August and the home game with Brighton on 21 August fall on the days that follow other strikes, so once again travelling will be extremely difficult if not impossible.

So there you are. No trains, precious few new signings on show this weekend, potential ticketing issues and the champions as our first opponents. Welcome to the new season, everyone.

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