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Irons in January: A failure of collective responsibility

By Dave Langton

West Ham United don’t have one man to blame anymore.

You can throw what you want at David Sullivan or Daniel Kretinsky or David Moyes or Rob Newman but the information from inside the club is clear: This is a team effort now.

There’s no longer one man brokering deals, bringing players in, potentially flinging them at otherwise blind managers, who were just minding their own business.

West Ham have moved towards a more holistic approach. And with that comes the fact that Moyes, ultimately, has the final say. He gives the approval. If he says yes, a bid is launched. If he says no, it isn’t.

Sullivan still does his work, although he has stepped back. Newman is there to go out and identify the talent. From this point on, we think, Kretinsky is there to bankroll the bids. All Moyes has to do is nod his head.

It doesn’t appear as though he did that early enough this time around, as the Hammers ended the window without a signing, despite a late flurry of offers but what does that say to the talent being identified?

Raphinha, Kalvin Phillips, Darwin Nunez. They’re all good players. They’re all INCREDIBLY hard to sign. Leeds are fighting for their lives. Benfica have protected themselves by slapping a £100m release clause in Nunez’s contract.

In January? There was next to no chance of any of those three rocking up in east London.

Now, is that Moyes’ fault? We would all say yes if we were the ones nodding our heads in the office, giving approval to bids going in, for all three of them. He did. Offers were made. They were swiftly rejected.

Is that Newman’s fault? He’s identified three very good potential additions but most people with even a passing interest in the Premier League would tell you that Raphinha and Phillips are good.

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Is that Sullivan’s fault? Maybe the moves were made too late. Maybe he didn’t act on information early enough.

Or is it Kretinsky’s fault? Maybe the bids just weren’t high enough, although at least one was in excess of £50m. You can’t fault the ambition there.

Maybe the overall fault here is that of the collective. Moyes is known to be slow to say yes. He wants to be sure, he wants to assess, and he wants to know that the player coming in is going to make a real impact.

Sullivan can be a little trigger happy at times, but maybe he could have been a little more hands on. Maybe Newman could have identified some more realistic targets. Maybe Kretinsky could have chucked an extra £10m on top of some of the bids.

Of course, some fans simply want players through the door and I can sympathise with that. There was undoubtedly a deal there to be done for Duje Caleta-Car but we didn’t do it, for the second window in a row. Moyes just might not rate him, and that’s fine, but an extra body in defence would have been incredibly helpful for the rest of the season. Ditto up front.

The targets, though, were out of reach. Moyes said yes too late. The bids didn’t go as high as they needed to.

It’s not one person’s fault, regardless of the Twitter bile that is spewed at the board.

And there remains reason for optimism. West Ham are fifth in the table. They could still finish in the top four and win the Europa League. What a season that would be.

However, it would just have been nice to see a new Hammer come through the door.

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About Dave Langton

A journalist with 10 years' experience of working on National newspapers, now chief reporter covering the club that I've loved since I was a boy. Upton Park remains the greatest football stadium ever built.

15 comments on “Irons in January: A failure of collective responsibility

  1. Bidding for those top Leeds players, and so late on, was clearly a non-starter, and as such looks just for show a bit like Leeds bidding for Soucek for example. Cannot believe the strategy was to wait till the final days to bid for high profile international class players from direct rivals. Looking a shambles sadly

  2. What were we bidding for Phillips for, what idiot came up with that idea when we needed a striker, CB, and LB more urgently. Secondly 50m for Phillips – we need to cop on, I cannot believe the owners would sanction this and even more alarming I cannot believe Moyes wanted him. I do not blame the board, I blame the recruitment aspect and for me it has shown the approach and strategy taken was completely wrong. I hope lessons are learned and accountability taken.

  3. Well it is said that a camel is a horse designed by a committee but at least something came out of that, rather than the tumbleweed blowing into the London Stadium yesterday. Kretinsky said we need organic growth, but that still means buying players regularly and we are now at the stage where we should be looking at a replacement for Antonio, not a backup. The apologists for Moyes and Newman seem to miss the point that this season may be our only window of opportunity to build on what has been achieved over the last eighteen months, so the players should have been identified and bought with the minimum of fuss to help consolidate what is an amazing position for the club to be in. I hope that this isn’t an opportunity missed and the only positive I can see is that Moyes will be forced to use some of our Under 23 players, but I still fear that we’ll see the likes of Masuaku and Yarmo given the nod instead. I hope lessons are learnt from what looked from the outside to be a totally incoherent transfer policy in this window. “We tried”.

  4. Regardless of the process being collective, you still have to question where the flaw lies in our effectiveness from wish list to identification to bidding. Where Is the stumbling block? Is it“ dithering Dave” or the modus operandi of DS in the way he makes the bids. Whatever the reason, the end result remains unchanged. I recall reading that Man City identify & maintain a list of 5 players for each position so that when the time comes to do business they are always prepared with a lot of the heavy lifting already done.

    The fact that we haven’t seen any incoming players poses more questions than answers.
    A deliberate ploy to pick up out of contract players (Johnstone / Lingard) in the summer leaving a bigger kitty to splash out for so called top players?
    A behind the scenes disagreement on targets or values?
    The reticence of players to join the club? Or……………..
    just an unprofessional / flawed process?

    Whatever the reason, we are just a couple of serious injuries away from a promising season becoming a letdown. I wonder what Declan thinks about the situation?

  5. Complete and utter shambles. Season done. Not enough legs. As for ANTONIO MUST KEEP RUNNING AND RUNNING AND RUNNING AND RUNNING ET AL .Until fatigue. takes over as it will. We will probably get through February ok. Then January transfer shambles will start to kick in.

  6. Exactly, none of it makes sense. If Moyes is so considered in his approach, why bid for absolute non-starter players in the final few days of the window. If Nunez was genuinely the guy they’d collectively identified, how does it make any sense for us to wait until the final couple of days when they know he’s back in SA on international duty. I have no issue with Moyes wanting to only add improvements to the squad and not waste money, but stick to that then. Don’t launch embarrassing non-starters 5 mins for time. Doesn’t add up!

  7. Why hasn’t David Moyes or the Board said a word on the window ? Why no explanation ? Do you think they feel guilty ? Or perhaps they cannot expain.

    • If their joint decision making process on posting an announcement on the official website is as convoluted as their transfer policy appears to be then expect an explanation in about a month.

  8. Completely agree Pessimist. At the very least, someone might have had the courtesy to let the fans know what is going on. Perhaps they didn’t know we were expecting a signing or two…. Seems disrespectful to me to not even acknowledge the fact that there was a (missed) window. Soon they will rave about how popular the website is, when they tot up our frequent visits over the last few days hoping to read something interesting (apart from sad little Isla’s memorial of course).

  9. I don’t get the reasoning behind the ” We won’t buy players who won’t improve the squad”. Surely buying any old LB and Right winger would be improvements on Masuaku and Yarmo? The CB position still has to be resolved- we know how finnicky DM is when it comes to CB’s. What if one or even 2 of our CB’s get injured?

  10. I’m so fed up with the “in Moyes we trust” mantra. It’s all very well saying we’ll only get players in who can improve on what we have. But, sometimes, needs must and you need some decent cover for the inevitable winter injuries. Sometimes “good enough” is good enough. If Moyes is so shrewd, why have Vlasic and Krall patently failed to set the work alight when they’ve had the chance?

    West Ham has shown itself yet again to be a very amateurish set up when it comes to transfers. There was clearly no strategy. And that’s highlighted by the fact that they started talking to Atalanta about Zapata at 7pm. What a shambles. And Rob Newman needs to be fired asap. Why wasn’t Weghorst – a Dutch international – on Newman’s hitlist. He’s gone to relegation certainties Burnley for £12 million, for God’s sake. And Nat Phillips, who we were linked with, ends up in the Championship at Bournemouth!

    Let’s face it, if we’re really honest with ourselves, Antonio is absolutely not a top six striker. It wouldn’t have been difficult to find someone easily as good to give him some competition. It didn’t need to be the perfect striker.

    And, although we have Zouma back, he has to be paired with Dawson or Drop who have proven themselves to be very error prone over the last couple of months. How difficult could it have been to get some better cover for Ogbonna. Again, it didn’t need to be the perfect signing.

  11. You tap the players agent up and find out if their player wants to come, then you speak with the club if so and then the player, it’s not rocket science. If you go early enough in the window you have time to get all the bad feelings out of the way early and the selling club time to identify replacements. These windows are a joke anyway, deals should be allowed to be negotiated outside of them and players sold within them.

  12. Whatever and whoever is to blame it still gores back to we yried we failed . DM picks the players he wants but doesn’t agree the fees and contracts . He won’t take players offered to him if he doesn’t want then fair play. What did Newman do and what did the board do or not do . Whatever it is poor !

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