I’ve heard a lot of names bandied about for the West Ham job since Avram Grant got the tin tack last week. Martin O’Neill, Sam Allardyce, Steve McClaren, the usual suspects, and then there’s Neil Warnock, Dave Jones, Chris Hughton and Paul Lambert, to name but a few. If it were up to me, though, I’d tell David Gold and David Sullivan to forget that lot, even if the boy Lambert does fit the young-and-smart bill I’d be looking for.
Now I understand why he is tickling their fancy – he’s done a phenomenal job at Carrow Road and had two great years. But if I was him I’d want to see that job through and give at least one season to having a crack at the Premier League. I’d miss Delia’s cooking, too. That’s why my choice for West Ham would be Neil Lennon.
I was up in Scotland at a function with my old pal Saint last week and, from what I picked up, it’s going to be very hard for Celtic to hang on to him the way things are going. And whatever you think about Lennon, the one thing everybody agrees on is that he has a tremendous attitude and fantastic drive. It certainly wouldn’t be a case of the same-old, same-old that West Ham need to avoid.
A complete overhaul and change of image is what my old club needs now. They’ve won three FA Cups and a Cup Winners’ Cup in the last 50 years and that doesn’t show any ambition. It’s why the move to Stratford is vitally important and so, too, is getting the right manager. Lennon has proved he’s up for the fight, so why not get him out of his situation?
Things are going to be very, very awkward for him and everybody else in Scotland, and it’s not going to get any easier. So get Lennon, get a new stadium… and maybe even a new strip. Keep the claret and blue, of course, but make it claret and blue stripes. West Ham need something that’s going to make the team look radical. They have to say, ‘Right, this is us, we’re a Championship side now’, and then concentrate on getting back to the Premier League.
They’re also going to need new players to do that. I’d move Heaven and Earth to keep Scott Parker, even though it won’t happen, and I’d let the rest go. Why not buy the entire QPR team? They did it this season and a lot of them won’t now get a look-in. West Ham’s a great club but they can’t live on their past any longer.
The five most identifiable players remain Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, Trevor Brooking and Billy Bonds … and Bonzo, the most recent of the lot, hasn’t kicked a ball for the club for 23 years. My old mate Mooro would look at the current situation and, just like everyone else who’s ever played for them, shrug his shoulders and say, ‘Well, that’s West Ham’. But that’s how everyone else sees it as well and it’s an image that needs to be changed.
Arsenal and Tottenham fans have been moaning about ticket prices, their teams and their managers… and they’ll both finish in the top six and have seen European football next season. West Ham fans don’t moan like that, they’re phenomenal. They just say, ‘Right, what you having, pint of Guinness?’ And my bet is a few of them will say they’re looking forward to the Championship because at least they might win a few games.
Gold and Sullivan know what they’re doing, and I don’t think a lot of people give them credit for that. I know Gold, he’s a very nice bloke, although there are mixed feelings about the two of them because of how they make their money. Sure, some people look on it as immoral because it’s the pornographic scene. But they’re two genuine guys who obviously have an eye for a market and good luck to them – I wish I’d been with them when they were starting out.