Take your own advice Sullivan

WEST HAM supporters were simply immense at Liverpool despite the decision by the club to reduce allocation from the normal 3,000 to just 1,800. The away contingent outsung the home side and fully got behind the team – but most of all displayed quite clearly via Sky Sports how and why they want David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady to vacate their positions on the board.

The move by Sullivan to enlist the help of so many of his paid staff of ex-players to spread a message that fans should support the team is both bizarre and counterintuitive. Hammers United have been very clear all along fans should protest the board but support the team. The focus of the discontent is the lack of input the toxic three have given our club. Fans go to great expense journeying up and down the country to support the team. Meanwhile, Sullivan and Gold starve the first XI, reserves, Academy and Women’s team of cash at the same time as loading debt onto the club to line their own pockets.

Karren Brady’s “support” involves doing the club reputational harm via her column in The Sun newspaper. This week’s laughathon involved the Lady beseeching us all to “reflect on the importance of kindness” in the wake of the apparent suicide of Caroline Flack. Leaving aside the fact her own colleague David Gold, showing all the sensitivities of the Duke of Edinburgh, liked a Tweet claiming Flack to be “weak” (whispers are the club have now banned him from social media) Brady’s plea equates to Syrian leader Bashar al Assad taking to the press to denounce tinpot dictators carpet bombing their own civilians.

No doubt Robert Snodgrass, Andy Carroll and Daniel Sturridge, among many who have been the subject of Brady’s vitriol in previous columns, will be reaching into their boots to pull out the very hollowest of laughs at her newly-discovered piety. Just as ill-fitting is Sullivan’s Damascene conversion from dumping fans into the London Stadium’s sterile pit for financial gain (has anybody found out who owns the company Boleyn Phoenix yet?) to abruptly flooding the ether with messages about how crucial it is supporters get behind the side.

This fan believes the protest atmosphere at Anfield, which the team appeared to react positively towards, would signal the need for a protest at every game.

Lights go out

THE Sullivan and Brady edifice is crumbling. Just as Samson pulled down the Temple of Dagon from within using his innate power, so a teenaged girl with great strength of character has laid bare how Karren Brady controls the club.

Amilah (the name roughly translates as “doer of good deeds”) posts on Twitter under the handle @MemberOfJSB and launched a thread on Sunday detailing how a desire to make becoming a mascot cheaper was first ignored, then turned against her. To summarise, Amilah was appalled at the £700 cost of being a matchday mascot and having been accepted onto the Junior Supporters’ Board (a sub-group of the Official Supporters Board) made it her goal to do something about it. A presentation she made was ignored, club minutes weren’t accurate and despite a request to do so weren’t changed to reflect her comments.

As a good fan representative, she asked for more information from the club. It was denied. Insult was added to injury when despite a four-month blackout from the club three mascot places were announced “following positive and continued discussions with our Junior Supporters Board sub-group.” Further emails were also ignored.

Samson destroys the Temple (anon, from the J Paul Getty Museum)

Leaving aside the issue of how expensive mascots are and how it reflects Brady’s desire to remove West Ham from those without substantial cash reserves, it highlights very nicely what we have long said about the OSB – it isn’t transparent, democratic or independent – and it serves Brady not the fans. Independent Supporters’ Associations Hammers United and WHUISA were absolutely correct when they refused to engage.

With the news that the Vice Chair refuses to give up her Sun column it would appear the Baroness has cemented for herself a role at the club where she is isn’t accountable to anybody, not even the owners.  Her creation, the OSB, invented as a method to shield her from fan opinion shares many of her qualities. Fans have long despaired at the haughty, charmless and spiteful social media proclamations from OSB Chair David Baker, seeing them as reflective of the tone of his boss. They are completely correct to do so.

Brady cannot survive this latest exposé of her methods – the mood music emanating from the club is more Walls Come Tumbling Down than You’re the Best Thing. Chair and owner Sullivan should grow a pair and get rid of her now. Following a period of introspection, (we recommend nothing longer than two minutes) he should reflect how he himself created the monster and then take the long-awaited decision to sell up.

#GSBOUT

Eight reasons you might wish to protest

Three and sleazy – Sullivan, Gold and Brady

ON Saturday West Ham supporters will be gathering outside the London Stadium before the game against Everton to protest against the board. (For more details go to KUMB). Here are our top eight reasons why we feel the trio of David Sullivan, David Gold and Karren Brady have failed the club.

Without supporters a club is nothing
The unholy trinity don’t appear to understand their money doesn’t buy ownership of West Ham United FC. They merely rent it for future generations. The owners of any football club are always the fans – memories, friendship, community, hopes, fears and dreams are not to be sold to the nearest bidder. The club tone is relentlessly hostile and the only people with whom they have anything like dialogue are the hated OSB – who are best seen as a focus group of unpleasantry and of use only for Brady to extort more money from fans.

Sullivan and Gold did not “save“ the club
For all the narrative about the money “put in” to the club, the reality is they have not spent a penny of their own cash. All finance wrongly attributed to them has been high-interest bearing loans. Sullivan and Gold have earned £16.8million over the last two years alone in above-industry standard interest from the club. Even if the club was in a rocky situation 10 years ago, that free pass they award themselves is not indefinite. Promises are seldom realistic, never mind kept – Brady’s “A world class stadium for a word class team” a classic of the genre.

The reputation of the club has been dismembered
Whether it is Sullivan’s behaviour towards other clubs in the transfer market, Brady’s loathed column in The Sun newspaper or the leaking of news via favoured websites the club are seen in the industry as a bad joke. Many other sides have a policy of refusing to deal with us. The tone in communication with supporters is most often condescending and lacking empathy.

The sale of Upton Park was for the benefit of David Sullivan’s bank balance, not the fans or club
Quite apart from the mystery of why the ground was sold to a holding company only to be immediately sold on again at nearly 100 per cent profit, the London Stadium is not fit for purpose as a football ground. There is no Family Enclosure, no singing area and little character – all thrown away because of the desire to sell tickets during a badly botched migration. The gaps between stands remain as a metaphor for the gulf between promise and delivery. The blowing up of a stand in a scene from a Sullivan-produced straight-to-DVD film could not be more symbolic.

The club infrastructure is a mess
As well as a dysfunctional stadium the training ground and Academy are a disgrace to a so-called Premier League club. Most Championship clubs would be embarrassed by the facilities at Rush Green – yet the two Daves barely let up telling us how much “they” spent. Far from the force it once was, the Academy is little more than a retirement home for former players short of a bob or two. Most of the good coaches have left and there is little in the way of basic communication never mind auditing and assessing the progress of individuals.

The appointment of staff is haphazard and without focus
There has never been a bona fide Director of Football nor recruitment manager with Sullivan jumping in and out of those roles according to who is asking the question. There is virtually no scouting system, with agents being employed at great expense instead. Of the five managers appointed during their tenure, only two (Sam Allardyce and David Moyes) have left the club in a better league position than when they started.

Transfer policy is unco-ordinated
Old and injury-prone players are routinely bought and over the top players given unwarranted contract extensions. Certain positions are all but neglected while there is a ridiculous obsession with strikers and attacking midfielders. There is little due diligence on background and no effort to incorporate players into any recognisable playing style or line-up. Players are seldom sold for full value and often as a means to mitigate a long-running cashflow crisis.

Most of all, on-pitch the club have failed
The three amigos have been at the club for almost exactly a decade. The money flooding into the club means they are currently the 18th richest in the world. On arrival the club was languishing near the bottom of the Premier League with a squad full of dead wood. Yet here we are 10 years later in exactly the same position.

Is it any wonder fans have had enough?

Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares

Titles close

Scene: On the 276 bus to Stratford

Gordon Ramsey: I’m off to the east End of London, famous for gangsters, murderers and jellied eels. Today’s subject is “Club Jambon D’Ouest Uni”, a restaurant in West Ham’s ground where the owners are in a pickle. Since moving premises three years ago in an effort to grow the brand, customers are unhappy and many have left yet the standard on offer has dropped. Profits are down after a number of expensive ingredients turned out to be not worth the money.

GR: I’m due to meet owner David Sullivan.

Scene: On the centre spot at the London Stadium. GR and David Sullivan talk. Gordon holds his chin

GR: Hi David, what’s going wrong?
David Sullivan: I don’t know Gordon, I work my socks off – but everybody else keeps letting me down. I appoint all the chefs – but it can’t be my fault because I’m the man with the money.

Scene: In the restaurant. Gordon orders some food and casts his eye around. To camera:

GR: Wow! This is the oddest place I’ve seen. Décor soulless, no atmosphere. The seats are miles from the kitchen and somebody appears to have spilled red wine all over the new carpet. The tables have popcorn on them as a starter, the scaffolding decoration looks out of place and why are there no cups? Fuck me!

The food arrives and Gordon picks it about a bit before sending it back.

GR: My God! This is terrible. I need the toilet, excuse me.

Retching noises come from within.

Scene: In the kitchen. Chef Manuel Pellegrini stands in front of the microwave looking guilty

GR: Hi! Gordon Ramsay. You are the head chef?
Manuel pellegrini: Si.
GR: Do you think that was sufficient quality to get your customers to return?
MP: Si. We have a big kitchen mentality here.
GR: No pride, no passion, no preparation – you’re living on another fucking planet mate!
MP: I worked at the top restaurants in Madrid and Manchester, please don’t be rude.
GR: Rude?! Fuck off! Your Lasagne Al Fornals was underprepared – almost raw, the Cress was limp and the Wilshere Jack cheese just fell apart every time I tried to get it on my fork. The Pâté de Foie (Snod)gras with Scotch was ok but the only dish with any promise was the Rice.

GR: Mate, I was looking forward to a vintage Chilean red but all I’ve seen so far is cheap fizzy water.
MP: We are not in a good moment, I need another wingman.
GR: Fuck off! The only reason you’re here is to make a quick buck before you retire! You don’t care.

Scene: In the boardroom. Ramsay eyes the prawn sandwiches nervously. David Sullivan, David Gold and Karren Brady look unrealistically confident.

DS: How was the food?
GR: Seriously? It was fucking awful! The French beefcake was all alone on the plate with nothing else – I was expecting some Gravy Diangana but the kitchen tell me they’ve will have to go to Birmingham to get any.
GR: As for the Spanish guaca-goalie, it was bright green and rancid – I expected something Fab but it absolutely stank the place out.

A bad smell – the guaca-goalie

GR: And your Brazilian dish couldn’t have been worse if somebody had boiled a sandal – a complete fucking Felipé flop!
GR: All your food is Fancy Dan – you need some meat and potatoes – good honest stuff that does a job.
Ramsay turns to Gold
GR: What about you Mr Gold, what do you do?
David Gold: I was born in Green St.
GR: What!?
DG: Yes, it’s true. And I used to play for the boys and now I drive a Rolls Royce and wear a blazer.
GR: Are you fucking serious?
DG: Oh deadly serious, Mr Ramsay, do you want to see my garden?
GR: Fucking hell, I’ve never met anybody so deluded in all my life!

Ramsay gives up on Gold – especially as he thinks he may need the toilet – and introduces himself to Brady.
GR: Hi, Lady Brady, pleased to meet you. What is your role in the process?
Karren Brady: I’m all about raising the profile of the place…
GB: Raising the profile? How?
KB: With my weekly piece in the paper and regular appearances on The Apprentice.
GR: Yeah, but what do you do for the customers?
KR: I’m the Vice Chair – and let me tell you, a good restaurant doesn’t need customers to be successful. No, I run a club called the Objectionable Supine Bootlickers, the OSB for short – and they tell me everything I want to hear. Sometimes we even offer them a few crumbs from the top table.
GR: So who gets feedback from the diners?
DS (interrupting): Oh, we don’t talk to them, why would anybody do that?
GR: Fuck me ragged, this place is a total shitshow and you lot are fucking amateurs. I can’t help you.

GR: I’m off!

Closing credits

Burnley 3-0 West Ham

Happy families

THE facts are stark – in their last six league games West Ham have won none, drawn two and lost four. Worse, this is not a “bad spell” as manager Manuel Pellegrini claims but a relatively easy run that contained none of the so-called ‘big six’ clubs. Our next four fixtures are against Tottenham, Chelsea, Wolves and Arsenal.

All the chatter is of the manager facing the sack. At present it seems very unlikely – the Board decision to appoint a head coach on such high wages means we are stuck with him, especially as sacking him would mean paying off all his staff as well. Plus, the question remains over who would fill a vacancy – the club are not the attractive proposition many fans would like to think.

The arrogance we spoke of after the Newcastle game needs to stop. The coaching staff need to sit down and realistically think about how to win games. If that means a pragmatic approach to replace the manager’s idealism then so be it.

Of the six goals conceded in the last two games four resulted from set pieces. The issue must be addressed. Pellegrini needs to be disabused of his insistence “nothing will change” on the training ground. Properly executed set pieces are claimed to produce 15-20 goals a season in attack. At the other end of the pitch conceding in this manner will only put more pressure on a misfiring front four to produce.

Despite an attacking trio of midfielders who barely defend and don’t press (there was a good piece about this in The Athletic this week) the team are not producing chances for striker Sebastien Haller. The Frenchman must wonder what he has done coming to a club as dysfunctional as West Ham. Imagine how good he could be if somebody like, oh I dunno, Marko Arnautovic was playing behind him?

At the moment Haller is still working hard but at the risk of repeating ourselves midfielders, especially coming from wide, need to at once get the ball in front of him in the box and come in from the opposite post to get beyond him. Continuing as at present to play stupid little passes into his feet in the hope he will produce something on his own is futile.

Good sides often have a settled back four. Pellegrini must pick his men and stick with them. Of the games mentioned only against Palace did the manager leave his back four unchanged. The present requirement is for players least likely to make mistakes, which means Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna and Cresswell should start.

Eyes down for a full house

Some problems are insurmountable; there is nothing the manager can do about injuries to the unfortunate Manuel Lanzini or more worryingly Mark Noble, one of only three players along with Rice who can play defensive midfield, even if this further exposes the insanity of not replacing Pedro Obiang during the summer. It’s as though Michel Roux jr suddenly declared: “There’s no butter in the fridge and we haven’t time to go to Tesco, let’s just make our pastry without. Nobody’ll notice”.

Likewise the goalkeeping issue seems irreconcilable. We can only rue Mario Husillos’ decision to bring in Roberto Jimenez as cheap cover for Lukasz Fabianski, a decision that seems more expensive with every week the Pole takes to recover from a hip injury. Fabianski was worth 12 goals to the Hammers last season – it feels like his replacement chucks one in every game.

As everybody’s Gran used to say: “Buy cheap, buy twice”: If a point in the Premier League is said to be worth £1million, the £40,000 or so saved on wages is costing the club around a hundred times as much. Michel Roux jr again: “This butter is way too expensive, lets get some Netto own brand marge instead. What could possibly go wrong?”

Arguments are raging both on social media and among individual supporters over where the blame lies for our current predicament. Some apportion blame to the manager, others the players, still more the Director of Football. We say this: The Chairman is in charge. It was his decision to appoint a manager who matches his arrogance. Pellegrini in turn, appointed a DoF who chose the players he wanted to buy. The squad are struggling under the vague tactical instructions of a hands-off manager who believes “big team mentality” is the essence of his footballing philosophy. Therefore, it seems obvious to look to the top for responsibility.

David Sullivan, this is your omnishambles. Fucking own it!

Sullivan’s sting in the tail

IN the most predictable set of events since Jack Wilshere last presented himself to the club medical team, a West Ham slump in form has been followed by a welter of briefing against club employees. Even though Manuel Pellegrini’s job is said to be safe (it would cost a lot to sack him and his staff), Mario Husillos’ reign as Director of Football appears to be nearing a close at the London Stadium.

Pertinent to these events are the old Russian fable featuring a frog and a scorpion. Put briefly it goes something like this; A scorpion asks a frog to carry it across a river. The frog afraid of being stung defers. But the scorpion prevails, reasoning should it attack the frog they will both surely die. The frog relents and begins to carry the arachnid on its back. Midstream the scorpion stings the frog, dooming them both. The dying frog asks the scorpion why, to which the scorpion replies “I couldn’t help it. It’s in my nature.”

Just as the scorpion can never escape his deadly instinct even when it leads to his own demise, so Hammers owner and coincidentally Soviet paraphernalia wearer David Sullivan is drawn to implicitly criticising staff members via friendly journos and bloggers every bit as surely as a drunk will inevitably weave their way to a kebab shop. It’s in his nature, you see.

Quite what the bloggers themselves get out of the transaction is difficult to ascertain. Any “reflected glory” from our owners would be about as lustrous as a ten quid fake Rolex brought back from a holiday in Turkey. The paradox is Sullivan engages in this activity in an apparent desperate attempt to keep supporters onside – yet is the owner of one of only two clubs in the country that refuse to interact with supporters’ groups. He insists we supporters listen but refuses to reciprocate.

A good owner would stand or fall by their own actions, not donate responsibility to staff members. Many fans see through this charade and recognise the Chairman’s behaviour as weak and indecisive, just as in our own workplace we all know a boss for whom ‘shit rolls downhill’.

The remedy is for Sullivan to butt out. Unfortunately, he seems to have little idea of the overarching role a DoF actually entails, meaning any appointment would be on a haphazard basis. In that sense if no other it was a reasonable process that saw Husillos chosen not by the Hammers’ owner but by his own head coach that in any well-run club would be a subordinate. File under: Only at West Ham.

Sullivan’s period in the job saw him rely almost exclusively on agents instead of a scouting network, a process that has resulted in too many “marquee signings” at the expense of future revenues. There are persistent rumours at other clubs that West Ham are too close to one agent in particular. Until Sullivan comes face to face with the reality that he is the problem not the solution and the process is every bit as important as personnel we fear “Dabbler Dave” will persist and money will continue to be wasted.