West Ham United moved to the London Stadium during the summer. It was pretty big news for all involved and saw some particularly emotive moments during their final days at Upton Park. As we were so frequently told by Karren Brady, David Gold and David Sullivan, the Irons were moving on to newer, better things.
The pastures new were going to ensure future stability by having a wonderful new stadium for which they were paying a pittance, building on a very good campaign in 2015/16 that saw them briefly flirt with the idea of Champions League football.
Moving their nominated patch of home grass was a big thing for the Hammers. It was meant to be a change in the club from top to bottom, the sign that they were leaving their turbulent days behind and joining the footballing elite. Sitting at the table previously reserved for Baron Kop, Noveau Riche Shed and Lord Trafford. Seats at this table are not easily attained, though. Reaching that standard requires years of competitive football and immediately begins discussions about which clubs have the most ‘class’.
Class is one of those words heard across football tirelessly. Subjective, without any actual meaning and too frequently used, how much ‘class’ a club has seems the most false of measurements. It is a metric completely useless, completely devoid of a sense of reality and frankly absurd.
For that very reason the word should be banned.
There are synonyms that can be used if one wants to use a word like c***s.
West Ham, in their movement towards the pinnacle of the English game, have had a bumpy ride. Mistimed comments from their owners, bickering between their own fans and hilarious on-pitch collapses have not helped. Moving to the London Stadium was meant to make the club an institution, thus far it has made them a figure of mockery for the most part.
Slaven Bilic is not at fault for the wider issues surrounding the club at the moment. Bilic can only be apportioned a certain amount of the blame. That being for team selection and motivation, primarily.
One of the club actions most widely mocked of late has been their dealing with transfer rumours. From Jack Sullivan tweeting news out to his 78,000 followers, to the latest column revealing their transfer activity on their website, the Irons are determined to undermine their own transfer business. It is coming across as petty and unprofessional. The Insider has recently been discontinued on the West Ham website, but how anyone thought it was a good idea in the first place is remarkable.
The latest instalment has seen the club website post an article directly criticising the legacy of Upton Park. The article itself makes several very good points, but placing it on the official club website looks a little strange to say the least.
Aside from the deliberate publication of their transfer business, the Hammers seem to be exceptional at letting news leak. As clubs become increasingly careful about who knows what, West Ham are seeing each of their bids make it onto Sky Sports. Not only undermining their own negotiations, but again, it looks sloppy. Like a club who are unable to keep anything quiet. Transfer deals are largely becoming quieter. Deals are only becoming public knowledge when nearing completion and clubs will keep everything under wraps; West Ham have fallen short of that level of secrecy.
Rumours are inevitable for any club, particularly one with a fan base so hungry for transfer news as West Ham. Only so much can be done to prevent such rumours, yet the Irons are too often airing their dirty transfer laundry publicly.
Club image may not matter for many, but it will sure matter to Gold, Sullivan and Brady. If the triumvirate are to really take West Ham to the standard that their stadium move suggests, the club must conduct itself differently. On-field success can only take a team so far, it takes a change in mentality and a change in public perception for the club as a whole to join the elite.