West Ham, relegation battles and a new owner’s tears

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Colin Randall appreciates David Sullivan’s obvious and genuine commitment to West Ham – backed up by tears on TalkSport – but hopes any revival in the club’s fortunes is modest …

Without holding the slightest thing against West Ham or most of its supporters, I make no secret of my wish that the club David Sullivan has inherited remains locked in a relegation scrap for the rest of the season.

That is not a malicious thought. I am perfectly happy for the Hammers to end outside the bottom three and would settle for this deal with any divine force: let West Ham stay up, but ensure they do not rise above Sunderland at any remaining stage of the season.

My interests, understandably, are purely selfish ones: Sunderland have managed to play themselves into the start of a battle of our own for survival and I want Steve Bruce to lead the team away from danger as soon as possible.

David Sullivan cut an impressive figure on TalkSport, shedding tears at one point as he described his emotional attachment to the club and his feelings on taking it over.

He also talked ominously about January purchases. Not the best time to buy, he acknowledged, but in the present predicament of his club, perhaps essential. And which position did he identify as being in special need of strengthening: striker.

That probably means yet more speculation about Kenwyne Jones. But I have another concern: Sullivan’s comments are ominous because of the historical precedent.

Who else remembers 1997? Peter Reid had turned a team heading for the Third Division into Second Division champions. He had been denied the funds to make the necessary improvements to keep us in the Premier and we struggled all season with a strike force that often equalled Paul Stewart and no one else.

That was one of the reasons we went straight down again. Another was what West Ham did as the season neared its climax: go out and buy two forwards, Paul Kitson and John Hartson. Both scored in winning home debuts against Spurs, embarked on a successful spell as Hammers frontmen – and the 13 goals they bagged in what remained of the season were vital to a 14th finish that was closer to respectability than hanging-on-by-the-fingernails survival.

Hammers friends will just have to forgive me for praying Sullivan’s money produces no such turnaround between now and May – or at least not at our expense.

I’d like to say to myself “don’t worry, Sunderland will do it with their own results and meet the pre-season target of a top 10 finish”. With Everton away coming up next, after a win/lose/draw sequence of the sort mentioned here yesterday, I feel little immediate cause for such optimism.


* Photo credit: Tony Austin’s pages at Flickr.

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3 Responses to “West Ham, relegation battles and a new owner’s tears” Subscribe

  1. Mr Moon January 19, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

    This season, I’ll settle for us (WH) finishing outside the relegation zone.

    Sunderland will be fine with Bruce in charge. Your biggest worry should be after a couple of successful years of over-achievement, he goes back to Man Utd as manager or assistant manager.

    …or Bent gets injured.

  2. Saf January 19, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    At the moment, I will take that but am hopeful we at west ham manage a decent mid table finish. Anyway, why are you guys worried. You should be ok…!

  3. Sam H January 19, 2010 at 2:05 pm #

    Good stuff Colin! I don’t think you lot should be too worried, but it is exceptionally tight this year

    Frankly, anything could happen

    Maybe it was a bit premature of my to lay down a couple of bets that we’d finish 10th and above Birmingham…but it reflects my opinion of the potential of the league throwing up a shock or two during 2010

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