West Ham ‘celebrated’ ten years of ownership by David Gold and David Sullivan this weekend, so who better to take us through the emotional highs and lows of the last decade than the Totally Football Show’s resident Hammer, Benji Lanyado.
“It was quite a moving tribute from West Ham who commemorated the anniversary by being in exactly the same position as when they arrived – 16th,” said Benji.
“The Icelandic owners bought us, the bottom fell out of the global economy then Gold and Sullivan take over. It’s been a decade when everything has changed and nothing has changed. The major changes of course are commercial: we’ve got this shiny stadium, we’re consistently in the top 20 revenue generating clubs in the world.
“But the truth is, as a fan none of that really means anything. You just want to see good football, and good football has been the exception rather than the rule.
“They came in at the tail-end of Zola, then appointed Avram Grant, then Allardyce, then Bilic – which turned out to be the fun bit, because that included the Payet season which was a complete joy. We managed to convince Payet to stay on to the new stadium because we were going on to the next level. The next level turned out to be Simone Zaza – didn’t quite go to plan. Payet left, Bilic left, and then we had the first half of the Moyes-Pellegrini sandwich, and here we are back where we started.
“The underlying issue with Gold and Sullivan is that we haven’t really changed and we’re always looking backwards. Football has changed massively. I was reading this week that Liverpool have got an astrophysicist working on pitch control – I can say with some certainty that West Ham don’t have anything like that. They’re living in the future.
“Players like Declan Rice are becoming so important because they represent something of a soul. West Ham have achieved precisely nothing in the last ten years, and to achieve that nothing we’ve sacrificed our stadium.”
There were some protests outside the ground before their game against Everton at the weekend, fans unhappy about the state of things, but what’s at the root of their dissatisfaction?
“General malaise and disappointment. What it comes down to is this whole “next level” thing, which is nonsense. Those fans might look at what happened to Manchester City: they sacrificed their spiritual home and old stadium to get to the next level, and that came in the shape of Sergio Aguero and David Silva. We’ve had Harvard Nordveidt and Gokhan Tore. It’s not quite the same.”
As for this season, they’re only a point above the relegation zone and have a tricky fixture list coming up, having to face Liverpool twice, Manchester City and Leicester over the next month.
“We’re in a bit of trouble. This is the kind of game we should have won: it was Everton without Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson, at home, and we didn’t look much better than 1-1. We are absolutely in the scrap.”
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