Invisible Man

Invisible Man

Sunday, 15 May 2011

"Avram, it's not us, it's you": The demise of West Ham

"You're fired" - Apprentice side-kick Karen Brady must be sick of hearing those words. She may well have had to take a double take to check the two gentlemen alongside her weren't Lord Sugar and Nick Hewitt. 

Less than one hour after Avram Grant watched West Ham capitulate once again, he found himself in the unfamiliar surroundings of Wigan's boardroom receiving his marching orders from deadly trio, Gold, Sullivan and Brady. 

The irony of it all is that everything wrong about West Ham's season once again reared it's ugly head again today.

Firstly, and importantly, West Ham threw away such a promising position. If all games this season had ended at half-time West Ham would currently be sitting on 42 points and be safe. Where the blame lies is multi-faceted no doubt, but surely Grant must accept some of the blame for a lack of motivation? Don't forget it took an impassioned battle cry from Scott Parker to ensure West Ham avoided complete humiliation whilst 3-0 down at West Brom. 

The second element which sums up West Ham's season is big name stars failing to perform. Why is it that every time West Ham see themselves relegated they manage to do so with a squad full of internationals?

Carlton Cole, upon introduction, a completely different player to the one who nearly went to last years World Cup and was linked with a January move to Englands elite?

To think Matthew Upson, once again missing through injury, started in the England V Germany game at the last World Cup seems more dream land than reality. Once again West Ham filled round holes with square pegs, drafting in youngster Spence, and once again forcing Gabbidon to adopt an uncomfortable full-back role. Madness when up against the pace of N'Zogbia.

Battleworn Scott Parker, admittedly brilliant this season, did his best to make an impact coming off the bench but, barely able to walk, delivered a performance lacking the panache, tenacity and mobility which saw him win the Football Writers Player of the Year. 

However, perhaps ironically, it was Robert Green, all to often the fall guy and never the hero who let N'Zogbia's whipped shot go right through him to seal West Ham's fate.

Thirdly, the obtrusive input of owners. Sacking the manager before he'd had time to put his bag on the team bus is classlessness of the highest variety. No doubt Gold, Sullivan and Brady's ruthlessness has just made the recruitment process to find another manager just that little bit harder.

Gold and Sullivan (below) in particular have too often this season been too quick to make hypocritical demands and crass comments of the manager, players and fans. Whereas Brady has often used her newspaper column to air laundry best dried indoors.

Firstly, in January, they effectively made public the desire to get Martin O'Neill to lead the fight against relegation, but still expected Avram Grant to lead the team later that day. 

Secondly they decided to enjoy television coverage rather than attend a crucial away game at Manchester City then criticized fans for not getting behind the team. 

Thirdly he publicly stated the big stars would be free to go at the end of the season, right before a crucial game Blackburn. 

Finally today. Everybody knew that Avram Grant was unlikely to lead the side in the final game of the season, let alone the Championship the following year. However the manner of which the board took the decision deliberately made Grant a public scape-goat, and subsequently rubbing salt in the wounds of not only Grant but also the thousands of fans making the long journey south. 

Perhaps this will be a decision which will come back to haunt the owners in the final home game of the season (if they choose to attend), as fans, without the fall-guy of Avram Grant, may rightly choose to direct their anger towards those who rule with the iron fist.

No doubt Grant has to accept the majority of the blame (to be fair he was backed with signings in January), but horrendous decisions have plagued West Ham at all levels. 

The outlook could be very bleak for West Ham. The standard of the Championship has been incredibly high this year, and three of the current play off teams (Cardiff, Nottingham Forest, Reading & Swansea) will still be there next year. Furthermore teams such as Wolves, Blackburn, Birmingham and Wigan could potentially be joining the Hammers down there. Tough competition.

With a move to the huge Olympic Stadium on the cards getting out of the Championship will be a priority, but will be by no means easy. However they have been there before recently, and will with such a loyal fan base they will certainly be favorites. 

Its time for a fresh start at West Ham starting with a new manager (Allardyce? Di Canio? Bilic? Curbishley?) There are some promising players such as Hines, Tomkins, Sears, Noble and Collison and West Ham must retain players of this calibre to stand a chance to go back up.

For Grant? Talk of director of football at Chelsea are almost certainly wide of the mark, but with two successive relegations in successive seasons it may be time for Grant to step off the emotional roller coaster. 

No comments:

Post a Comment