The sale of Grady Diangana has inspired much introspection and protest at West Ham: it’s a good job the stadium will be empty this weekend…
The season hasn’t even started yet, and already the mood is low at West Ham.
The sale of Grady Diangana to West Brom for around £16million has sparked some significant protest among the supporters, but perhaps more significantly in the dressing room, with captain Mark Noble tweeting his disappointment at the departure and a few other players backing him up.
But how much is it a storm in a teacup, or is it a window into their deep existential despair in the locker room, asked James Richardson on The Totally Football Show this week.
We dialled up our resident Hammer Benji Lanyado to answer:
“We’ve gone quite early this year with our annual meltdown. From afar it might seem a bit hysterical, but I think the reason Diangana has been turned into a martyr figure is pretty understandable.
“We haven’t sold a really highly-rated young English player since Michael Carrick 17-years ago, who was the last of that generation of Joe Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Jermain Defoe. When David Gold and David Sullivan took over they were pretty clear they didn’t want to sell the family silver every few years, and that was one of the things we were hoping when we moved to the Olympic Stadium: that was the trade-off.
“If there were fans in the stadium, we could be on the verge of another ‘Burnley at home’ scenario [when fans protesting against the club’s owners invaded the pitch and players, like Noble, had to eject them], and I do wonder whether the owners are using the fact there are no crowds to do some really unpopular stuff.”
Of course, the objection to the Diangana sale isn’t just that a promising young player is departing:
“All of our transfer activity, in and out, feels like the consequence of not being able to develop our players, or at least maintain them. Manuel Lanzini and Felipe Anderson have fallen off a cliff, and our inability to sell them ultimately resulted in the Diangana sale.”
Still, it’s not all gloom:
“The reasons to be cheerful are the signings we made in January. Both Tomas Soucek and Jarrod Bowen fit quite nicely in the Premier League. I think David Moyes sees Marouane Fellaini in Soucek and Bowen has settled in really quickly. He bulked up during lockdown so the quick player we saw in January was both quick and strong by June.”
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