Relegated and manager-less before the seasons’ close spells chaos for West Ham, but in the long term is this something that they’ve needed for years?
As the final whistle blew on Sunday vice-chairman Karren Brady was already organising a conference room, within the D.W. Stadium, for the dramatic sacking of ‘Avram Grant – Millwall legend’ after the curtain came down on West Ham’s six year stint in top flight English football. A disjointed and careless second half display from the Hammers had gifted Wigan all three points from what appeared to be a somewhat bleak half time position for the home side; two nil down, in front of the home support, in a relegation six pointer.
Maximum points were necessary for Avram Grant’s, now former, side in order to have any chance of avoiding the drop. But they couldn’t hold on with the points snatched from their grasp with a 68th minute goal from Conor Sammon. Fittingly, it was just as celebrations of the goal had died down that the now famous plane flew over the stadium to goad the travelling Irons fans, compliments of local rivals Millwall who, as it happens, they will be facing next year as they battle for promotion from the Championship.
Blame has since been passed around Upton Park criticising poor decisions made by the owners, weak management and the performances of players. However it could, and should, be argued that all three most important areas of the club should share equal burden for the relegation woes. The fact that Grant replaced Gianfranco Zola, on a four year deal, only last year, then to be undermined by the owners in their bid to replace him with Martin O’Neill during the current campaign, highlights the lack of cooperation and understanding between board and manager.
To lose points in vital games too shows indecisiveness of management and a lack of grit and resilience from the players, that is needed in the Premiership, to push results through. To concede four at home against Manchester United when they were already two nil up immediately springs to mind. As well as the incompetence to relinquish a two goal cushion at Wigan on Sunday.
As well as the concerns relating to the running of the club the finances too are in dire need of restructuring, especially when the wages of certain players come under scrutiny. It has been public knowledge, since they were published in May 2010, that the wages of some players at West Ham are astronomical when compared to the clubs recent stature.
If we consider the inherent problems currently existing in many aspects of the club then perhaps relegation isn’t actually the worst scenario. One advantage to the drop is the fact that inevitably some players will leave. With the likes of Kieron Dyer earning a staggering £83K per week and Parker and Upson bringing home £60K and £50K respectively, selling these three players alone could slash the wage bill by £193K. Admittedly, Parker’s form has been head and shoulders above everyone else in the Hammers’ squad this season, but this can only drive up his asking price when he comes to go, which he must if the likes of Liverpool or Tottenham come knocking.
In Noble, Collison, Hines, Tomkins and Sears West Ham have a wealth of young, talented, English players, who have potentially bright futures at the club if they are allowed to develop as a team. In holding on to these players, and injecting a new sense of enthusiasm into them, that hopefully whoever is brought in at the helm should do, West Ham can cut big name underperformers and start a much needed fresh, both refinancing the club, cutting the wage bill and engraining the ‘West Ham attitude’ that the club is historically famous for, into these young players.
In what Avram Grant described as the “Saddest day since [he] started in football,” and as a terrible season draws to a close, all seems grey for the Irons. However, maybe there is a hint of optimism glinting on the horizon. This could pose as an opportunity for the club to sort itself out in all of necessary areas.
With a new manager and a reshaped squad West Ham will have a major reason to battle next season, and in Demba Ba a potential Championship top goal scorer. A similar situation was played out with Newcastle United in past seasons and a year in the Championship allowed them to come back stronger, more confident and with greater stability than when they went down. So all is not doom and gloom for the Hammers although if a revolution that makes a difference is going to ensue, and they are going to get back to the top flight by 2012/13 some big decisions will have to be made during the important summer months.
Read more of Oliver’s articles at This is Futbol