by Rich Sprent
All successful businesses work with a plan.
Financial projections are drawn up, liabilities, growth, debt, assets – they’re all scrutinised and the budgets are presented to the board.
From here they are able to assess the direction the company drives out in determining milestones along the way. Football clubs are no different. Except that away from the business side of things there is the complication of the actual football.
Currently West Ham is a club on the up. Back from the brink of administration and relegation the club’s first team is in the top half of the Premier League albeit amidst a run of poor form. The future football growth is at an important crossroads.
It has been well documented that the owners prefer to give 2year contracts out to their football manager reviewable at the end of each season. Coinciding with that review is a very important milestone looming in the business plan – the move to the Olympic Stadium. This makes the next two seasons possibly the most important in the club’s history – the last at the Boleyn and the first at Queen Elizabeth Park.
With the season in its final third the current incumbent manager appears to be lurching his way towards the end of his contract and tenure. Much has been written of the discord between David Sullivan and Sam Allardyce.
And not to mention the unbridled hatred of 50% of the fanbase towards towards the man from Dudley. It really matters little what he has achieved or could achieve with West Ham, half of the fans won’t be changing their opinion. And that is a dreadful situation for any organisation to be in.
The board have more than just the decision of who to replace Allardyce with – as it surely must be. Whatever the man’s merits, to be reviled by half of the paying customer is as divisive as it gets. And it is that division, as can be seen on any Hammers internet forum, that shows how destructive it can be. Every little step back gets blown up and it’s trench warfare between those who want him (or just for now) and those who don’t.
Many potential manager names have been bandied about however, a factor that is only scratched at is the level to which the football club is being directed to compete at. Someone on a similar managerial level who isn’t Sam Allardyce may appease the masses for a while. Unless the team can progress to challenge for European football then he would only be a cosmetic change and nothing but a caretaker.
The next appointment along with the ‘warchest’ handed to him will show exactly what the board’s ambitions are. Our current footballing aim is clearly to challenge for European football. That is to break in amongst Liverpool, Sp*rs, Southampton and keep ahead of Stoke, Everton, Swansea and Newcastle. The team currently has an excellent first XI. The bench is creaking with deadwood and needs overhaul.
The Saints may have developed a way in doing things that should be looked at and maybe even emulated. The beginnings of a legacy is what they hope. It certainly is showing early signs of promise for the south coast club with Koeman continuing the work started by Adkins and moved on by Pochettino.
The David’s have the opportunity to show their thinking with a progressive move this Summer. I wrote earlier that Rafa Benitez would be an ideal upgrade on Allardyce. Yet at a reported £6m year to even talk to us it begs the question of whether the club could afford the ‘warchest’ he’d expect to improve on things.
There are plenty of managers out there. Most are no better than Allardyce. Those that have successful CVs will expect a lot of money to spend. The danger of getting in manager who is in effect nothing but a caretaker for two years is a real one for me. This is an opportunity to rebrand West Ham United on the pitch as well as a business. The beginning of a legacy. Dare I suggest it, a West Ham way.
One thing is for certain, whatever direction they decide to go, if the board can appoint someone that unites the fans then we’ll all be onto a winner. As Sham69 is often heard over the Boleyn sound system, ‘If the kids are united, then we’ll never be divided’.
The views expressed in this article are those of the blogger and are not necessarily shared by ClaretandHugh.