Finally there might be light at the end of the darkest of West Ham tunnels…the club have announced there will be a new Director of Football in post to oversee all matters footballing, scouting and scooting. Yes, David Sullivan has decided to hang up his DoF role and take a step back to let others do the job he masterfully practiced for a number of years.
After the Tony Henry debacle, it had already been announced that the procedure for doing transfer business would change and the scouting system would also come under review. Many would have us believe that the system was not flawed, however had suffered some misfortune along the way and any failings in recruitment or misfiring rookie recruits were to be blamed on managerial decision making. Nice to see the club taking full responsibility here and protecting those whom were or whom are currently employed in those roles!
So this announcement begs the question, “Who is the right man…or woman, for the Director of Football position?” Many names have already been touted amongst the online masses and the Twitterati have rejoiced in proposed names and speculative punts at interested parties. Would anyone wish to see Harry back doing his wheeler dealing behind the scenes? Are we really saying that only the old guard can fulfil this role or should we be looking far out to left field to get the right person in place.
Many would leap at the chance to get a household name…that Hollywood signing that would undoubtedly attract the marquee players the fans had been promised all this time. Should the club be looking at public footballing reputations or rather look to the ‘Quiet Men’ who simply do their job diligently, professionally and not get caught up in the media storms with each and every deal?
Surely the focus now is to attract the right calibre of player which would serve the club’s interest best but also suit their own. There simply is no point in signing a player, under false pretences and promises, lavishing him with an outrageously high salary…only for him to become disillusioned with his standing and team performances a few months into the season.
Much derision has already filtered its way through the fandom as ridiculous player names are being linked as potential summer targets. Obvious comparisons are being made with previous years and the coincidence of season ticket renewals…however one would assume that the club owners will be forced into spending more in the summer transfer window whether indeed West Ham survive in the Premier League or get relegated to the Championship.
This is the lynchpin to many of the crucial decisions that the club will face. If the team miraculously pull off the unthinkable, win a few matches, gain vital points and spare all of our blushes then the Director of Football role, we would assume, would attract a higher calibre candidate. If the Championship is to be our fate, then a lesser applicant would be more appropriate…if at all required.
The counter argument to all of this of course is whether or not a role is actually required? Should the manager take on all aspects of scouting and player recruitment, and just leave it to the money men to work out the finances and the lawyers to finalise the contacts? Or, should the modern manager simply manage the team provided…be head coach or coaches, present a wish list of players to his superiors and let them make the final decisions?
One could give credence to both plays, however the main focus this coming summer will be to totally restructure the squad and implement a strong spine and balance across the first eleven but have able lieutenants to slot into familiar positions when required.
For much too long, West Ham have suffered with under performing players, woeful injury records and apathetic displays from those on the pitch and those who would rather reside in the treatment rooms. There has been too much horsing around by too many individuals and the system has allowed them to do it, regardless of Moyes’ initial hard talking…the same afflictions have reared up again.
Behind the scenes, we know that try as he might, Sullivan was not the right person to be in charge of transfer dealings, although we would be naive to think that he will privately let go of the reins gladly. Like the petulant child who still wants to play with his train set although his parents have scolded him for treating it with disdain and breaking it…he will undoubtedly be lurking in the background…pushing and pulling in all directions.
There is an opportunity here for the club to rise above this dark cloud and do something correct for a change. Whilst almost all fans will never look upon those decision makers with gleeful eyes, they might learn to accept the new face as the first line of defence, if only Gold and Sullivan retreated out of sight and back into the shadows of the boardroom for good, if not out completely.
There might be resolution to most conflicts when this position is finally filled but it would be fools play to think that the West Ham fortunes would be less than hiding in the summer transfer window alone…it may indeed take another full season to make positive changes that will turn around the club’s graces for good.
The new Director of Football role will be one of the key positions in the club, but whomever lands the job, they must be given full control of the process and dealings whilst the owners simply provide the limitations of the budget that can be played with. Whomever is the new manager or indeed whether the club persist with Moyes, there must be frank discussions and a new action plan to bring in players that will not only reinforce the squad but also change how it operates.
Let’s be under no illusions here, there must be quantum changes during the summer. Those within the squad that are not full servants to the club must be rooted out and replaced with players who will lay it all on the line just for the chance to wear our famous claret and blue colours. The manager will need to be more progressive, ambitious and attack minded whilst not childlike in defensive responsibilities. Ultimately the club need to appoint the very best person for the job, not some superstar director of something else, not some Scorsese of the Badda Bing and surely not another Redknapp and his horse trading?