Technical Tim has Hammers hearts a flutter

I’ve never actually read a Mills and Boon romance. It’s not really my style. But I know roughly how they work. Boy meets girl – they fall in love – they enrich each other’s lives – they pledge their allegiance – they live happily ever after.

It seems to me the arrival at the London Stadium of Technical Director Tim Steidten is like a story straight out of the Mills and Boon library. It’s certainly been a case of ‘love at first sight’ for many West Ham fans who appear to have fallen head-over-heels for the new man.

Steidten pictured with new signing Edson ALvarez earlier this week

Although I’m sure beyond a few of our resident experts, most will have been totally unaware of Mr Steidten prior to a few months ago. Neil Moxley in the Sunday People has called Steidten: “A pen-pusher no one has ever heard of.” I admit I have to include myself in that category.

In reality we have only just been introduced – 1 July was his official appointment – so we’re hardly beyond first date stage, but already some are all googly-eyed, wobbly-kneed and frankly. Loved up! He’s God’s gift, it would appear to them.

They seem more in love with the newcomer already than with the manager who only a few months ago gave us our first trophy in 43 years, and our first European trophy in 58 years. That can happen of course in any relationship – people drift apart – and it often ends in messy divorce. Which is where we appear to be right now if the rumours are to be believed.

But a word of caution around our new love. I seem to remember another similar love affair with another foreign arrival five years ago. Manuel Pellegrini was hailed as the manager to take us onwards and upwards, to the next level and beyond, when he arrived in May 2018.

His background was impressive. His working pedigree was similarly of the highest calibre. He’d won trophies as well as admirers in Europe and south America – and became the first manager outside Europe to manager a team to the English Premier League title. It was a marriage that received almost universal blessing in the east end.

But after the initial honeymoon, importing some exciting new additions to the team, flair players who had everyone dreaming of West Ham playing – and winning – the West Ham Way – our ‘union’ hit the rocks. Divorce papers were filed and the inevitable separation took place just 18 months after the marriage on December 28th 2019. Happy Christmas.

History records it was David Moyes who Pellegrini superseded in 2018 – and when he departed it was Moyes again who was called upon to pick up the pieces, repair the mess, and to head off what looked like inevitable relegation. Ironically it’s Moyes again who is a key player in the latest love affair to hit our club.

So who is Steidten and what is it that appears to excite a section of our fan base – as well as our Chairman so it seems?

He was a journeyman footballer who never actually commanded a transfer fee, despite moving six times in an undistinguished playing career. He joined Werder Bremen in July 2008 as Youth Scout – progressing to being appointed Director of Football in 2017. In 2019 he moved to Bayer Leverkussen as head of scouting before becoming Sports Coordinator in 2022.

Steidten is credited with progressing the careers of Jeremie Frimpong, Edmond Tapsoba, Odilon Kossounou and Piero Hincapie (not names that roll off my tongue) – all still playing in Germany – also Moussa Diaby who recently moved to Aston Villa for a fee in the region of £50m, a considerable mark-up on the £15m Leverkussen paid for him.

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Maybe that profit-making element to Steidten’s portfolio appealed to our present owner, whose known to enjoy cutting a money-making deal or two.

Steidten was said to have had talks with Chelsea at the end of last year over a possible move to Stamford Bridge, but in the end the Blues looked elsewhere to fill their vacancy. Tottenham and Liverpool were also said to be interested in his services – but didn’t pursue that interest.

Get German Football News reported in March 2023, quoting Kicker, that Steidten had left Leverkussen with immediate effect – stating it was somewhat of a surprise that Bayer would let such an asset go so quickly. The reasons behind his abrupt departure remain unanswered.

Xabi Alonso had joined the club as manager in October 2022 – and guided them to the semi-finals of the Europa Cup and a sixth-place finish in the Bundesliga – but there is no suggestion there was any conflict in that association, unlike the present situation at West Ham with David Moyes.

Steidten is said to prefer a data-led approach to scouting – feeling stats should be best used to narrow down the market. It’s even suggested he looked into limb-tracking technology while in Germany (whatever that entails). Moyes of course is a more traditionalist – old school. Prefers tried and trusted methods of scouting.

Personally I don’t need stats to tell me when a player has had a good game – has covered a lot of ground – has been productive and effective in his passing. Has scored goals regularly. I can see all that from where I stand on the terrace. I suspect Moyes is of a similar opinion.

That’s not to say of course data doesn’t have a place to play in the modern game. Of course it does - but as a supplement to good old fashioned knowhow, experience and knowledge.

How will this all end – who knows? But in any break-up there are victims. In a marriage it’s often the kids. In the shambles going on at West Ham at the moment it’s the club and the supporters who seem to be suffering most – as we watch helplessly from the sidelines.

Just a last thought. If Moyes had gone in the middle of last season, and Sean Dyche been brought in to take control – as many in the fanbase wanted – what would he made of Steidten’s appointment? I think I know!

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