Friday, 26 March 2010

Hammer Blow after Hammer Blow: It's fool's Gold at Upton Park

JUST what you need isn't it? Poor old Gianfranco Zola, one of football's genuine nice guys, on a run of five defeats, fighting relegation, with sticky Stoke at home tomorrow.

Then the owners David Sullivan and David Gold say they want to sit in on your team meetings. And that's after Sullivan has posted an open letter on the website saying he was "angry and upset" at "the disorganised way we played" in the 3-1 defeat against Wolves on Tuesday.

Some other choice lines from the letter, which also went to the season-ticket holders? "I had no sleep last night having watch that shambolic performance" and "I apologise to every supporter and fully expect a dramatic improvement."

Great. Bet Zola never thought of encouraging a "dramatic improvement" himself. Am I the only one who has noticed the correlation between West Ham's slump and the arrival of Gold and Sullivan, the supposed saviours of the Hammers after the collapse of their Icelandic backersw?

England centre-back Matthew Upson, who should never have left Arsenal, has discounted Sullivan's comments on the club's website as "pretty irrelevant". He added: "I wouldn't say from a player's point of view it helps. We only concentrate on the coaches and the manager. They're the people we want to listen to."

And Zola has, according to the Daily Mail, refused to allow Sullivan into the team meeting as he prepares his side for the Stoke clash. He will be under enough pressure as it is. Two of his new signings, Egyptian Mido and South African Benni McCarthy, haven't helped.

McCarthy, 32, who has been out with a knee injury sustained soon after his £2.5m move from Blackburn, looked far from fit against Wolves but saw fit to tell every nearby journalist how he was going to lead the fight against the drop.

Mido meanwhile has told everyone who will listen how he is willing to play for a mere £1,000 a week - but was spotted by the great Charlie Sale eating fish and chips at the Golden Hind in Marylebone this week.

If it wasn't so tragic, it would be laughable. West Ham were cruising until Gold and Sullivan arrived and told the world how the car park attendants were earning £70,000 a year and the club was over-spending in all areas.

They've called for a 25 percent reduction in wages all round, leaving Zola struggling to motivate his troops, with or without Sullivan and Gold helping out in the dressing room.

Clearly the two former Birmingham owners, who made their money selling women's knickers and publishing dodgy magazines, have their own agenda.

Mark Hughes is being lined up to replace Zola (that's if the former Wales, Blackburn and Manchester City boss doesn't heed the call from Celtic) and nobody expects the little Italian, still adored by Chelsea fans, to survive the summer.

Of course, what should have happened, as any true West Ham fan will tell you, is that Gold and Sullivan should have arrived quietly, let the club see out the season in mid-table safety - and then made their changes and public proclamations.

Instead, from where I sit, their intervention has sent morale and performances plummeting. And if Burnley or Hull get their acts together, the Hammers could be in for a few serious blows as the bubble bursts over the final seven games of the season.

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