One of my favourite films of all time is the last film Peter Sellers ever made, ‘Being There’. It was a tale of a man (Chance – the gardner) who lived in near isolation, although not poverty, in a busy world and who by chance becomes a confidant to the president of the United States of America and extraordinary influence, yet speaks simplistic nonsense. He is a simple man, naive but innocent and decent, but sadly capable of little. A nice guy.
Chance (Chauncey Gardiner) reminds me so much of the West Ham United manager, Avram Grant. The wrong man in the wrong place for West Ham. I have gone on record, from the start of the season before we conceded 12 goals in 4 games that this was a catastophic disaster of a decision and culminated with me ditching my 2 season tickets in January. Take a look at this, enjoy the ‘movie’ references and marvel at the wisdom.
So yesterday, Saturday May 7th 2011, I decided to go back to West Ham.
The mood of the season has not changed since August last year, the beginning of the season. We have been consistent. A mix of appallingly bad leadership at the very top, ie the owners and their appointment of a manager who has zero track record, highlighted how much our owners really know about football and probably highlighted what the football industry thought of them. Faced with a crippling debt, which they inherited knowingly, they probably had few options in terms of replacements for the man that they undermined last season, Franco Zola. But the option they went with was always wrong, wrong for West Ham and wrong for everyone who is associated with the club. I think the mainstream media knew this and gently highlighted it early in the season. Indeed out very own foghorn Leghorn, co-chairman David Sullivan spoke freely about the manager being on the end of the noose as soon as we had lost our opening 4 fixtures by 3 goals a piece.
Then there was the Martin O’Neill debacle. Clearly the owners knew that Avram Grant’s days were numbered and he was an awful mistake, so they tried to recruit a replacement in January. Here the idiotic two were join by their managing director, Karen Brady who we will see dishing out all sorts of cod advice next week on the BBC when she appears as one of Sir Alan’s helpers on The Apprentice. Brady decided to brief the press on the quiet that O’Neill was all but a done deal. Even hapless Grant knew his game was up and threw his scarf into the crowd after the game with Arsenal which he thought would be his last. Trouble was, Mr O’Neill was a man of principle and knew if you sleep with dogs you can catch fleas. Within a day the deal was off, O’Neill was staying put at home and Sullivan and Gold were left with their tails between their legs. Gold even had the front to appear on Football Focus and state that ‘I would like Avram to be the manager for the next 20 years’. Unbelievable. You have to think this is either rubbish, or err, rubbish.
All this week the other half of Little and Little, Mr Sullivan, has been shouting his mouth off in the press about the inevitability of being relegated and the fact that all of our ‘England’ players will be sold. You really have to wonder if the owners are daft at all. We know they never want to pay high wages to players, just look at their record at Birmingham. How better to get the big earners off your books by a season or two in the Championship? The fans will understand that these players are too good for the Championship won’t they and the club can reduce the wage bill and get a few quid to boot.
You have to look at track records. The one track record we all know is that Avram Grant doesn’t have one, ‘got n Harry Rednapp’s way at Pompey as ‘director of football, took over from Mourinho at Chelsea when they lost the Champions League, and presided over Portsmouth’s relegation last season, before relegating West Ham’ is how I would sum it up. But the bigger question for me is the track record of the Holey (sic) Trinity of Sullivan, Gold and Brady. 16 years at Birmingham – they took over in 1993 with the club in Division 1 (now the Championship) and were relegated to Division 2 in 1994. Eventually promoted to the Premiership in 2002 but relegated in 2006 after just 4 seasons. Promoted again the following season, in 2007, they were relegated the following year 2008 and promoted back in 2009. In short Birmingham were a yo-yo club – 16 years at the helm and Gold and Sullivan presided over 4 promotions and 3 relegations.
But back to Grant. Clearly unable to motivate the players, in possession of unusual tactical nous to say the least, he still, week after week talks absolute rubbish in every interview he gives. He cannot motivate his team, his bosses love to demotivate the team through the press and most of all us fans have become demotivated. Who can blame the players if they just want to get the season over and get the first cab out of Upton Park in search of a new club, with better ownership and with a manager who may just make them feel better about themselves and show them how to win. Messrs Green, Upson, Parker and Cole I personally wish you the very best of luck. I just hope there are no more teams who will think Avram Grant is no more than a simple gardner and I bet you all fear playing for him ever again.
Meanwhile Mr Sullivan and Mr Gold, you need to show proper leadership, take long hard look at yourself, and hope for you own sakes that you can find someone with takent to manage our club. I am not sure how many would want to work for the two of you.