Ever since the day that we were taken over by David Gold and David Sullivan, it is fair to say that we have had a knack for signing poor quality strikers. However, was it the owners fault? And exactly how bad were these attacking players?
No more than ten days after the co-chairmen took control at Upton Park, it was announced that we had signed South Africa international Benni McCarthy from Blackburn Rovers. The then 31-year-old signed a contract that was due to keep him in East London until summer 2012. However, the board and then manager Gianfranco Zola were horrified to find that the former Celta Vigo man was vastly overweight when he arrived. The hefty forward would go onto make a handful of appearances in the 2009/2010 season and after a careless holiday of eating, McCarthy had put more weight on. As a result of this, the club threatened to fine the South African a week’s wages if he didn’t lose a kilo in a week. If the signing hadn’t already looked like a calamitous mistake, it did just a year after the conformation of it, when after several diabolical performances McCarthy was not included in the squad for the rest of the disastrous 2010/2011 season. In that same month, the former Orlando Pirates man was offered £1 million for tearing up his contract and just a few months later McCarthy agreed for a £1.5 million pay-off sum. Not exactly the best of first signings for the duo.
The signing of Egypt international Mido from Middlesbrough was confirmed at around the same time as Ilan and McCarthy. The forward had impressed during spells at the North-East club and with Spurs in North London, but the then 26-year-old was desperate after a series of loans and accepted a wage cut of £1,000 a week under Zola. However, even that sum of money would seem rich, as the former Ajax man would play out a dreadful few months in Claret and Blue. His short spell included several missed chances in various games and a missed penalty at Goodison Park against Everton. The loan move was nothing short of disaster and Mido would return to The Riverside on June 1st, 2010.
Much like Mido, Ilan’s spell would only be short, but unlike the Egyptian it would include goals and impressive performances. The Brazilian was a free agent when signed after leaving French club Saint-Etienne and made his debut against Burnley scoring in his first three minutes in a West Ham shirt. After failing to score in his next nine games, the former Brazil international notched a late headed equaliser in a 2-2 draw away against Everton. The following week, he bagged the only goal of the game as we overcame The Black Cats 1-0 at home and his last goal for the club would be the opener in the crucial victory over Wigan at Upton Park. Many Hammers fans were surprised at the news of Ilan being released with Mido at the end of the season amid rumours of a rift between him and Zola.
Most Hammers fans will wonder why the former France international made this list, compared to other Hammers strikers from this period, he did relatively well, becoming a cult hero after scoring the home winner against Spurs. However, his general poor lack of judgement cost us dearly in a vital Premier League game against Everton in the run in of the 2010/2011 season. Piquionne had scored what looked to be the winner at Goodison Park in the 86th minute of the game, but when he took his shirt off to celebrate, the former Portsmouth man was booked for a second time. We failed to hold out with ten men and were relegated just a couple of months later.
It is fair to say that when the Irish legend was signed on loan from Spurs in January 2011, the move was made more out of desperation than anything else. Keane would go on to score two goals in Claret and Blue, both at home against Blackpool and Aston Villa respectively. The former Liverpool man was grilled for his missed chances and more notably a missed open goal in the home draw against Blackburn Rovers. Ultimately, his efforts were unable to save us and he returned to parent club Spurs following our relegation in May 2011.
Much like Robbie Keane before him, John Carew was signed in the twilight of his career and the free-transfer came after he was released by Aston Villa. The Norway international would prove to be another questionable Gold and Sullivan signing shrouded with fitness problems. The former Stoke City man played an insignificant role in our promotion back to the Premier League in the 2011/2012 season, and he would only score two in the campaign. The big Norwegian was released In summer 2012 after our Play-Off Final victory over Blackpool.
The former MK Dons man was drafted in for the final promotion push in January 2012 for an undisclosed fee from Bristol City. Maynard scored a number of key goals in the run in, these included notches against Blackpool, Barnsley and Cardiff City in the Play-Off Semi-Final second leg at Upton Park. However, the then 25-year-old never really had the desired effect that Sam Allardyce hoped he would and was sold on to Cardiff City for a fee close to £3 million just a month into our first season back in The Premier League. Maynard’s last goal in Claret and Blue came in a League Cup victory over former club Crewe Alexandra just days before his exit.