David Gold and David Sullivan have never been ones to shun the limelight. During their time as owners of Birmingham City the duo enjoyed a turbulent relationship with fans, as the club yo-yoed between leagues. After leaving Birmingham Gold and Sullivan took over West Ham United and immediately voiced their opinions on the club and players. Throughout the summer there has almost been a constant stream of rhetoric with regard to recruiting players, and often it is Gold or Sullivan doing the talking instead of manager Avram Grant. As the clubs owners the pair have the right to do what they want within their club, but they might be advised to take more of a back seat in the future and let the manager do the talking. Fans, players and the manager can get frustrated by their frequent opinion giving which could lead to discontent at Upton Park.
As soon as Gold and Sullivan took over West Ham United, they began voicing their outspoken opinions on what the club was doing wrong. After first giving assurances that Gianfranco Zola’s job was safe, it quickly became apparent that the Italian was a dead man walking. Following a 1-3 home defeat in March by then relegation rivals Wolves, David Sullivan launched a furious verbal attack on the manager and the players.
In an open letter to fans published on the club’s website, Sullivan stated “Nobody at the club should delude themselves that we are a good team. The table does not lie.”
Sullivan and Gold’s criticism of the team continued, and provoked a public rebuke from Luis Boa Morte who told BBC Sport “Mr Sullivan should have a bit more composure when he talks to the press to hammer the players. It’s not helping anyone. The fact that you have money doesn’t mean you can say do whatever you want.”
The problem with such criticism from the owners is that it can evoke a backlash from players, the manager and the fans. If it had not been so obvious that Zola would not be at West Ham for the next season, more players may have signalled their displeasure at the owners’ remarks.
With a new manager at the club, Gold and Sullivan have now turned their attention to speculating publicly over transfer targets. During the summer David Gold spoke of his desire to bring David Beckham and Juan Roman Riquelme to Upton Park. However it has emerged that Beckham has had no contact with West Ham and intends to continue playing for LA Galaxy this season. Juan Roman Riquelme meanwhile, has recently signed a contract with Argentine side Boca Juniors. With much of Gold and Sullivan’s speculation turning out to be just that, the better option may be for them to hold their tongues and let the manager get on with the job in hand. A player transfer should be solely the manager’s choice, and Avram Grant would be better left alone to make deals in the summer market and go about signing players the way he wants to. David Gold and David Sullivan have the right to voice their opinions, there is no question over that, but they might just experience greater success during their time at West Ham if they are just that little bit more publicity shy.
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