“The problem at West Ham is interference from the boardroom”
If you believe the hype, Sam Allardyce has already assembled a crack squad of big-name players at the Boleyn Ground, with Andy Carroll and Carlos Tévez leading the imaginary line. In the real world, roughly five per cent of the players the Hammers are linked with have actually turned up in east London, but is it all Big Sam’s fault? With a famously meddling chairman in David Sullivan, there does not seem to be a coherent transfer policy. The Life’s a Pitch panel investigates the goings-on at Upton Park.
“The problem at West Ham is you’ve got an interventionist chairman in David Sullivan, who likes to play the transfer market,” says the Daily Telegraph’s Jason Burt. “He thinks he knows the market very, very well, he’s got his own connections and obviously he makes the deals. And you’ve got a manager who likes to play the transfer market, he’s got his own connections in the transfer market and his own people he likes to use, so I think there is a tension there straight away, because both of them are coming up with lists of players and ideas.”
The People’s Tom Hopkinson agrees that Allardyce may not be getting things all his own way when it comes to bringing in new players. “Quite what’s going on, and has been going on, behind the scenes over the close season is anyone’s guess,” says Hopkinson. “I sometimes wonder whether David Sullivan, [co-chairman] David Gold and [vice-chairman] Karren Brady all know exactly what is going on at the same time.”
Despite the crossed wires, there have been arrivals at West Ham over the summer. French midfield enforcer Alou Diarra is just a medical away from becoming the Hammers’ latest signing. But are they bringing in the right players?
“I think they’ve made a couple of very shrewd signings,” says Hopkinson. “I think James Collins will be a good signing for them, and Momo Diame from Wigan is a very good footballer. They’ve signed Jussi Jaaskelainen in goal, I think he was a great goalkeeper in his time, but I think it’s a big step down from a keeper of Rob Green’s class. I think Big Sam has got his work cut out in the next two or three weeks, before the transfer window closes, to get a couple of players in who can help do a job in the Premier League.”
Those doubts aside, the Sunday Mirror’s David Walker feels confident Allardyce will keep the Hammers up. “He is a very, very capable manager, who knows what he’s doing,” says Walker. “And I would back him to keep them in the Premier League. There will be a clear out, but the problem for Sam is the interference he may or may not be getting from his boardroom.”
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