West Ham seem to have a knack at getting pretty good team together and completely failing. This year has once again seen the Hammers crash back into the Championship after six seasons of top flight football. As a fan I'm pretty embittered by this season's relegation.
It's hard to put my finger on who to blame. Should I hate the team? The squad has names like Scott Parker, Robert Green and Thomas Hitzlsperger. On paper that team should not be a team even close to the bottom of the table. Occasionally the proof that West Ham had a good team would also show. In matches against Liverpool, Burnley and Stoke the team had highly comfortable and dominant wins over their opponents.
Most of the time, unfortunately, the team just did not click. When a goal was conceded, it was like someone hit an off switch. Heads went down and the effort from the team (bar a couple of players) was nonexistent. Whilst the Irons had a superior side in comparison to other relegation threatened teams, it never had the determination required to stay up.
Clubs like Wolves and Birmingham, even when it looked like a loss was coming, still tried in the hope that a last-minute goal could be scored. I never got this feeling from West Ham. When a goal was conceded it was like the team gave up no matter how early in the game it was.
Lack of motivation tends to point the finger at the manager. Let's face it, Avram Grant doesn't exactly come across as the most charismatic type of fellow. On TV he has always seemed rather monotonous and uninspired. I couldn't imagine him exactly giving a rousing speech that could fire up a disheartened team. But when I think about laying West Ham's faults on Grant, memories of the decent Cup runs and the occasional excellent game.
A team that can pull out 5-0 wins and victories over teams like Liverpool may have issues, but the results seem to make me look elsewhere, thus bringing me to the owners.
David Gold and David Sullivan, along with their appointed Vice-Chairwoman Karen Brady, have their share of the blame. If they put as much effort into improving the team as they did their media image, West Ham might not have had such a turmoiled season.
Don't get me wrong on one thing, I am grateful that they saved the team from financial ruin. Without them the team would probably be a lot worse off but that doesn't excuse them from doing a lousy job with their responsibilities this season.
All of them seemed to put their media reputation first and the team second. Brady constantly would talk about their dealings of the week in her column for The Sun. Gold and Sullivan wasted no time in making their money with stories of turmoil within the club by going straight to the newspapers. How was Avram Grant meant to approach higher-ups if every conversation he was going to have ended up as next morining's back-page headline?
Sure the fans knew that if West Ham got relegated that big players were going to have to be sold on, but they didn't need to list the exact players they were willing to pass on. This itself damages West Ham's chance of getting top prices for their properties when the times come to say goodbye to the like of Scott Parker and Rob Green.
Then of course there was the whole Olympic Stadium fiasco. West Ham taking over a 60,000 stadium sounds like a good idea when they are playing the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Man United, but, and I mean this with no disrespect to teams in the Championship, is it really going to be worth it anymore (if it was worth it in the first place)? Maybe for Gold and Sullivan who could pocket by selling Upton Park, but it seems like the team and the fans are getting short changed. The priorities of the West Ham board seem to all be in the wrong order.
Anyway that's my perspective (maybe I should have said rant) of West Ham's season. I blame everyone and forgive no one. Players that couldn't care, a manager who isn't right for the team and owners who couldn't care less beyond themselves. The fans deserve better and so does the legacy of this East London club.
Here's hoping to a successful promotion campaign next year and getting all the issues sorted out in the process.