Ask many West Ham fans what they think of their owners and you will be met with quite a few colourful words. This in part is because of two things: 1) the club are going backwards under their ownership and 2) not many fans are happy with the new stadium and yearn for the old one, or at least one where there was some atmosphere.
In discussing why West Ham are going backwards, one thing we need to set clear is how many delusional figure heads keep repeating that West Ham have spent very little. This is simply not true and the club have spent close to a quarter of a billion pounds on players in the last four years. On that part it is hard to criticise David Sullivan and David Gold.
The obvious problem though is that expenditure may not be enough in the Premier League. In France’s Ligue 1 for example that budget could well have you chasing PSG but the bar has been set so high in the Premier League. If we look at the money that the Hammers have spent in the last four years it averages out at around £60m per season. It’s difficult to compete with teams when the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool and that is just a few examples can spend that money on one player.
Still winning the league isn’t the priority for West Ham, just staying in it is. With the money spent they shouldn’t be 18th after 25 games though. Look at the likes of Sheffield United and Wolves, but one could also argue that along with good ownership and the owners have also employed very reliable and solid managers too.
One has to question how Sullivan and Gold thought that bringing back David Moyes was a good idea. Moyes had already been West Ham manager and finished with a win rate of 29%. Sullivan and Gold had already sacked him for Manuel Pellegrini which seemed to be a good move before Pellegrini seemingly lost focus. But to bring him back, that was as the French say a faux pas.
Some of the fans evidently hate the owners, and there have been protests and will be more, they want change and they want them out.
If fans want to complain how much money has been invested then that isn’t really going to rub, money has been spent, has it been spent wisely? no not always. But when the club invested in Sebastian Haller last summer it seemed like great business. Haller had scored 20 plus goals for Eintract Frankfurt and had helped the club reach the semi finals of the Europa League, the £45m they paid on him seemed like good business. But the striker has been next to appalling this season only having a couple of good games.
For every intentional good buy there has been a questionable one though, why did the club chase after Pablo Fornals? Because some pundits thought he was good? He wasn’t even near the best players in La Liga last season and yet the Hammers chased after him like he was the second coming and spent close to £30m he has been playing like a version of the invisible man this season.
Maybe the biggest problem with Sullivan and Gold’s ownership is that even though they are fans of the club, they don’t understand the philosophy of how the club need to be run. They don’t seem able to treat or give the fans what they want. The stadium move idea wasn’t a bad decision but the location and moving to the Olympic Stadium was. And for season ticket holders and loyal fans it does rub them up the wrong way that their club don’t even own the stadium and taxpayers have had to help pay for the stadium.
Fans seem to feel ashamed of their owners, and the truth is both Sullivan and Gold do have love for the club and do want the club to do well, if not they wouldn’t have invested so much money over the four years. They have just made some mistakes, bad decisions and above all they are not listening to their fans anymore, that is the sad reality of the situation.
Now West Ham have one of their biggest battles in their recent history. They have been relegated plenty of times in the league, but this one would feel different. A new hope, a new stadium, the Olympic one at that and playing in the Championship? It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, and there are no guarantees that you will be coming up again anytime soon, just look at Leeds United as a perfect example of what can happen.
The next 90 days will be pivotal for the owners, fans and club.
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