Where did David Sullivan and David Gold go wrong at West Ham?

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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Poor results, protests to be held and a fan banned- Are West Ham in meltdown?

In football you have two stories: one is on the pitch and one is off it. This season West Ham have had negative stories on and off it.

It was clear that after a decent first season in charge Manuel Pellegrini had lost focus and the Chilean was soon sacked. But the club owners brought in David Moyes, he who was West Ham manager before Pellegrini, he who gave a winning return of just 29% and he who was deemed no good and was sacked in favour of Pellegrini. Talk about taking steps backwards.

Results under Moyes have been poor, bar his first game when the club beat Bournemouth 4-0, they also beat Gillingham in the FA Cup. Since then they have lost numerous games, the highlight being a 4-1 beating against Leicester and they have been knocked out of the FA Cup. Under Pellegrini the side were poor but were above the relegation zone, now they are in it and 18th what does that make Moyes’ status?

Fans have not been happy and this week there was a controversial incident which saw a long standing season ticket holder banned from home and away games this season. He had volunteered to be a flag bearer on the touchline, but there seemed something else behind his reasoning. That was to show the TV cameras his t shirt which read GSB out. That stands for club owners David Sullivan and David Gold and the B is a reference to Karen Brady who has also presided over the club. The board were not happy, wrote the fan a letter and now he is banned for the season.

It was a one man protest but much of the fans it seems are with him, and they want Sullivan and Gold to sell the club. It seems understandable too as so many mistakes in the transfer and recruitment of a manager have been made. From the outside at least there does seem to be a lack of ambition. There have already been silent protests and it is getting worse and worse and will do.

There is a plan to release black balloons when the club take on Liverpool at Anfield and in their next game at home against Southampton there will be even more protests. The pressure will be on Sullivan and Gold, after all who would want to stay and own a club where the fans don’t want or like you? Mike Ashley at Newcastle could sympathise with this but the anger of the West Ham fans seems more deeper and genuine.

At the root of the anger, and perhaps this isn’t every fan, but it is the stadium move. Did any long standing fan really want to move from the Boleyn Ground. If so they would have wanted a modern stadium but without the gaps to the pitch. Many fans have said there is no atmosphere at the stadium any more and in fact no home advantage as clubs like coming to play at the Olympic Stadium. Others have said that sound does not travel well and so when Hammers fans sing and try to cheer on their team it gets taken away.

Right now it feels as if West Ham need a new beginning and that is a damning verdict given that the stadium was supposed to be that.

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Slaven Bilic criticises West Ham’s stadium move, was he right?

Former West Ham player Slaven Bilic has criticised West Ham’s move to London Stadium. Bilic who commands much respect from the West Ham faithful is bringing his side West Bromwich Albion to the Hammers new ground to play out their FA Cup 4th round tie at the weekend.

Bilic played for West Ham at their old stadium the Boleyn Ground and also managed the team, in fact he was in charge when the club played their last ever season at the historic ground. Bilic said: It’s not an excuse, but if you ask me if it was better to play at Upton Park or not then there’s no discussion,” he said. ”It was more home, it was more hostile. Not one opposition player enjoyed it when they had to go to Upton Park. That’s a fact. The Olympic Stadium is very different for an away team. You enjoy it more.”

The Croatian went on to say,”what also changes are the fans. It’s like pubs; now you have modern bars. When you take people out of the pub and go to them, they don’t feel comfortable. They prefer pubs where it is packed and you are shoulder to shoulder. Like what Roy Keane said about the ‘prawn sandwich brigade’ – it leads to that. You don’t want to lose that hostile home advantage and there are very few of those traditional clubs left in the Premier League because the league forces you to become more a corporation than a football club.”

Bilic did not mix his words, but is he right about the new stadium? Well fans of the club do seem to think so, and whilst the stadium is modern and state of the art compared to the old ground it has completely lost it’s sense of atmosphere.

It’s a difficult situation for clubs now who don’t want to be seen playing in old stadiums that feel well past their prime and there does seem to be a pressure in the digital age to move on. Change of course is natural and in 100 years time West Ham most probably won’t even be at the London Stadium.

A reason they could move is that they don’t actually own the stadium and it is being paid by taxpayers, which is a disgrace in all honesty, though that argument is for a different day and topic. It does seem as if the clubs owners have made a mistake in moving though. Surely the biggest asset of moving ground would be for money reasons but it is reported once all rent has been paid that the club only make an extra £2m in revenues.

Was that worth such a drastic change, in losing that intimidating atmosphere at the club? At the same time even when they were at their old ground they had won nothing in over 35 years, so maybe the closeness of the fans to the pitch worked for some games, but overall did staying at Boleyn Ground really make that much difference?

Perhaps the problem is in ownership, David Sullivan and David Gold are true supporters and love the club but at the same time maybe there time with the club is up. Maybe change is needed on a vast scale. Relegation could well be a possibility this season and playing in the Championship in a 60,000 concrete bowl with less atmosphere doesn’t sound too appetising. If Sullivan and Gold do indeed love the club maybe they need to sell up.

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Marko Arnautovic gets his wish and leaves West Ham to play in China- is it the right move?

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He’s gone Marko Arnautovic finally got his wish to leave West Ham and has joined Chinese super league team Shanghai.

West Ham were so annoyed by this that they issued a very short statement to the fact and failed to even add the usual all the best wishes to the Austrian player. Arnie as he is known to West Ham fans made his feelings clear a early as January and tried to force the move then but the Hammers were having none of it.

But now he is gone and it is thought that West Ham have had to sell him for a cut price £23m instead of the near £30m they would have preferred. But was Arnie right to leave?

Though there is a feeling of bad blood between both parties, this does feel like the right decision. Why would West Ham want a player who was not commited to the cause, isn’t it just correct to sell the player? Also on his side he isn’t getting any younger. So why stay at a club who will be struggling to fight for honours next season?

Of course money is the real issue and Arnie can expect to earn near to £300,000 a week with Shanghai, a kings ransom and he could never have got that at West Ham, plus he is 30 and not getting any younger, this last big contract gives him the chance to earn well and set himself up.

Shanghai are champions too and he will be made to work hard to retain their trophies and silverware will be a reality for the player out in China.

It’s hard luck to West Ham and one will wish that the club can learn from buying a player who perhaps never had his heart setteled on the club. He scored goals and looked like a great buy, yes, but at the same time he struggled to get goals and play well against the better teams and that was also the problem. He was simply never a top level drawer player and West Ham should be able to move on from his departure which it shouldn’t affect them as much as it could.

West Ham have bought Pablo Fornals and are now in the hunt for Celta Vigo’s Maxi Gomez that is the real top drawer there and those players should be enough to make Arnie’s loss a distant memory.