Tag Archives: Allardyce

Open Letter to West Ham United

Mr D Gold & Mr D Sullivan
West Ham United Football Club
The Boleyn Ground
Green Street
Upton Park
London E13 9AZ

9th January 2014

Dear Sirs,

West Ham United Football Club
I am a proud West Ham supporter and have been for 47 years. Over the past three seasons I have become increasingly disillusioned with the direction in which you are taking our club. Along with many thousands of West Ham fans I am now dismayed, yet unsurprised, at the plight we find ourselves in.
We need a change and we need it fast. I think we can all agree on that. Yet having witnessed the hapless reigns, under your aegis, of Avram Grant – a proven football failure who led us to relegation – and Sam Allardyce – who looks determined to do the same – I have no confidence in your collective abilities to affect this.
Avram Grant’s management of the club was a farce. That alone was enough to make us a laughing stock, but your gauche attempt to appoint Martin O’Neill in December 2010 and the manner of Grant’s eventual departure, doubly compounded the situation.
O’Neill withdrew from discussions when he read about his impending appointment in the press before he had agreed a deal. Grant survived, but was summarily dismissed following the game at Wigan that confirmed our relegation. It was a match where defeat was plucked from the jaws of victory. Having been two up and cruising we capitulated and ended up losing 3-2. Yet that does not excuse what followed. That Grant was not even allowed to travel home on the team coach and was forced to make his own way back to London felt rather tawdry – certainly not the West Ham way. Indeed no less than Scott Parker, then club captain and a real credit to the shirt, expressed his disappointment at the shabby treatment of his former manager. He was sold shortly afterwards.
Two years on and things are, if anything, even worse. The ridicule that our beloved club was subjected to by the media following the 5-0 loss at the weekend to a decent Championship team (‘team’ being the key word) was dispiriting. Yes, we all heard the usual excuses and we all read your ‘open letter of support’ for the manager, but if the defeat in Nottingham was wounding, then last night in Manchester, gangrene set in.
Of course, losing a semi-final is not unprecedented for West Ham. But the manner of the defeat certainly was: an incompetent performance that reeked of indifference. So much so in fact that the 6-0 score line is not the worst part of the story. West Ham is a proud club, famous for its playing style and footballing philosophy, but it is becoming a travesty.
I feel that things simply have to change. There are tens of thousands of West Ham United fans who share this view. I understand that you are the legal owners of the football club and to that end, I would like to know how much you want from a fan consortium to purchase your shares for cash?
Our plan is simple: we will crowdfund the purchase of West Ham United and place in into the hands of thousands of genuine supporters for the good of both the club and the modern game.
I look forward to hearing from you,
Yours sincerely,

AG Payne

You can sign the petition here http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/david-gold-david-sullivan-name-your-price-to-sell-to-west-ham-fans

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#oneaday 61: There is always a first time….

Today is a special day. Today, West Ham play Millwall and it is special to me because it is the first time I have not bothered to watch the Hammers play their traditional dockland rivals  at Upton Park in my lifetime. I forego the opportunity to visit the New Den, which like New Labour has faded somewhat in recent years, again for the first time when West Ham have played there (which includes visiting The Den) . In years gone by, it would have been a dot on the card for both games, and essential day out and one which would fill me with excitement and trepidation. Not anymore.

I have been pretty quiet about West Ham’s fortunes for sometime. I have seen them twice in the flesh this season , both one nil games. At home to Ipswich we lost 0-1 in a dreadful game and away to Brighton we won 0-1 on a cold dark night at the brand new Brighton stadium. We are currently top and playing a brand of football which will ‘get us out of the division ‘ according to Mr Allardyce who manages the club’s players nowadays. It’s a great division to play in as everyone can beat everyone else on any given match day. Literally anyone can get promoted to the promised land of the Premier League.

But my disinterest in all things West Ham has been building for a few years. Not least last season, when our new owners Messrs Sullivan and Gold ably assisted by Karren Brady appointed Avram Grant and the rest was history. Their bungled attempt to replace the hapless Israeli after three months with Martin O’Neill failed. This was exacerbated by Ms Brady’s briefing of the press that West Ham had got O’Neill over a fateful weekend in January. Martin O’Neill probably thought to himself ‘I really don’t fancy working with this lot’ and politely declined the opportunity. Look at him go now at Sunderland.

Aside from the football judgement, I have a problem with the owners of West Ham on another level. I was lucky enough to have dinner with some friends and Sir Geoff Hurstin October 2010 and we had a long chat about the club which is so dear to both of our hearts. He was simply brilliant and was with us for 5 hours. At the time we spoke about the ownership, leadership and future of the club and he agreed with me that the jury was very much out. But the one thing that did resonate was when he asked me to ask the club where they had put his World Cup medal he had sold to the club in 2001 (when they were owned by a different set of people). Apparently the medal had been on display in the West Ham museum, but rumour had it that the museum had been closed, due to the imminent move to the new stadium once the Olympics had finished.

Remember this was 2010 and the stadium move, if it actually happened, would be a full three years away so I really did not understand the closure. Sir Geoff and I wondered if the medal was safe, after all it was one of only eleven awarded and they way the current England team play, it is unlikely that there will be any new additions anytime soon.

Exactly where were these medals? I wrote to the owners of the club in October 2010 and then followed up in November. I gave them a break for Christmas, but then chased again in January 2011. I never ever got a written reply to my three letters. I am sure the owners were very busy and have bigger fish to fry, but you do wonder where is Sir Geoff’s medal and for that matter are Bobby Moore and Martin Peters’s 1966 World Cup winners medals also bought by the club some years back? They were supposed to be on display in the museum, but there is no mention of that on the official West Ham website. I wonder where they are and why they are not on show?

David Gold is a regular user of  Twitter and is always re-Tweeting complimentary comments from fans, however every time I ask him about the whereabouts of Sir Geoff’s medals, he stays silent. Maybe he just gets too many mentions to deal with?

I hope The Hammers win today, I really do, and for my mates who still go. I bet there will be some real anticipation. I remember  the old days fondly- when football meant something to all of us, friendship, rivalry, pride, joy and tons of disappointment. When money was not the be all and end all. It clearly means a lot to Sir Geoff Hurst and that does give me hope that our great game can be saved.

Interestingly, today sees our old ‘friends’ the Gooners organising a day of ‘protest’ by placing a black bin liner over each and every empty seat in their oil state sponsored stadium. Even Arsenal know the game is up. Loads of seats are just not taken up as the rich season ticket holders simply can’t be bothered to show up for all the games nowadays. Gone are the days when you could simply turn up and buy entrance to the ground on the day. That all went back in 1990 (the same year as the game above), post Hillsborough. Watch this space though. When the seats remain unoccupied more and more at the top level, clubs will have to act and encourage supporters to come back, by hook or by crook or lose the atmosphere that was so special up until recent times. Too much money in the hands of too few will never inspire passion I am afraid.

Good luck to all of you who still love the game, I for one will be praying that the tide turns and we get back to football being a game for the people at prices people can afford. I also look forward to West Ham putting the 1966 World Cup winners medals back on show.  Then I will return to Upton Park full time.


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#oneaday 4:Re-use and Recycle?

Management, specifically football management, what makes a good manager and why do failures get re-used and recycled time and time again? It seems like the only way the managerial gene pool is ever widened is when Premier League owners decide to import big hitters from abroad, or Blackpool and Stoke get promoted.  Having seen the hapless incumbents at Liverpool, West Ham, Aston Villa and even Chelsea look like dead men walking (apologies Gerard) after their teams all lost vital games tonight, the talk is of who will be sacked first. 

Surely this prize must be won by Avram Grant at West Ham, who has never really fitted the bill since he arrived in the summer. After 3 games in the Premier League, the owners Messrs Gold and Sullivan put dear old Avram on a warning. He’s had more since, despite the MD of West Ham, Karen Brady (her of The Apprentice panel alongside SirAlan) assuring the media, public and the fans, that ‘we just don’t sack managers’. The big question was how did this Israeli football manager ever get a job in English football in the first place? He arrived as technical director at Portsmouth when Harry Redknapp was manager and  Harry made it clear that he did not want any interference. He then went on to do a similar job, this time director of fooball, at Chelsea and dropped into Jose the Special One’s manager’s seat when Emperor Roman decided that Mourinho had expressed an opinion one too many times. After losing the Champions League final, Grant was sacked. He then returned to Portsmouth as director of football, only to become manager about a month later after the latest Pompey owner sacked the latest Pompey manager. He left after Portmouth lost the FA Cup final and were relegated, admittedly because of points deduction due to Portsmouth FC going into administration. Indeed Grant did not even hold the required top-flight coaching certification from UEFA when he took over at Chelsea. In fact, he had never received the lower-level coaching cerfications from UEFA for “B” and “A” level coaching in Europe.  But Messrs Sullivan and Gold thought it would be a great idea to hire him.

Not far behind must be either Roy Hodgson (most pundits ‘in the know’s’ choice as England manager to replace Capello after the shambles that was the 2010 World Cup) or Gerard Houllier. Neither seem in control of their respective teams, both seem just too old, too bemused and actually not good enough for either team and certainly unable to handle the expectations at their respective clubs. Indeed Hodgson’s first foray into English football was to get sacked by Blackburn a few years back. Admittedly he had a very good season with Fulham, but his record in our league was actually poor. Ditto Houllier. One UEFA Cup , FA Cup and League Cup victory plus a runners up in the League really does not make him a great winner, especially at Anfield. Thus groans were heard all through the claret and blue parts of Birmingham when Martin O’Neill stepped down, Kevin MacDonald stepped in and then made way for Houllier. If Houllier gets the boot, then he will almost certainly return to France. Ditto if Carlo Ancelotti leaves stricken Chelsea, it is unlikely that he will seek further misery in England.

So the question really is why do some of these consistently under performing managers keep getting employed? Why do the club owners fall for the same candidates time and time again? Lord knows why. If Grant and  Houllier go, surely that must be the end for them in English football? Of the current 20 Premier League managers, 14 are British which is as high as I can remember. Of those, Hogdson will not be in his job until the end of the season and some of the others may have a few sleepless nights. But we need new, younger  managers, men with fresh ideas and men who can handle the errant ways of the modern millionaire footballers. Outside of natual promotions – ie managers of teams who gained promotion in order to gain a foothold as a Premier League manager namely  Ian Holloway, Tony Pulis, Roberto Di Matteo and Owen Coyle, there seems to be a total lack of promoting managers from lower divisions into the top jobs. Is that caution or stupidity? Indeed, does football need a bit of a cull in order that we can refresh and relaunch our game?

Let’s see what happens in the coming months. Meantime, if you are a Villa, West Ham, Liverpool and even a Chelsea supporter, the next few weeks will be  very interesting. Messrs, Southgate, O’Neill, Allardyce, Curbishley and Hughton are all looking to get back into the top jobs, it will be interesting to see who does not come back and if clubs like West Ham or Aston Villa live a little and look to the Chanpionship for talent.

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