‘F*** OFF David Sullivan, F*** OFF David Gold’. That is how West Ham fans feel after a January transfer window full of disappointment.
For a club that has never played in the Champions League, sitting one point off of fourth place in the Premier League at the start of February should be a time for excitement and optimism.
But West Ham fans are furious. The January transfer window closed on Monday night and the club, desperate for reinforcements to help their push for the top four and Europa League glory, signed nobody.
West Ham’s failure to bring anybody in during the January window could derail their season
Fans are furious with David Sullivan (left) and David Gold (right) after another barren window
West Ham fans have protested the owners before and social media is littered with more anger
West Ham could finish in the Champions League places but now risk missing out after failing to strengthen in January
There was no striker to offer back-up to Michail Antonio – the club’s only recognised forward – no move for Jesse Lingard, no centre back, no midfielder to ease the burden on Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek. Nobody.
What promised to be a historic season is now at risk of collapse and any chance to disrupt the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ and establish themselves as a force again in English football looks to be in tatters – all because they didn’t get their chequebook out.
And the moves West Ham did try to make were laughable. Whether they were attempts to save face and make the recruitment department look competent or genuine bids we will never know.
Two weeks before the window closed there was a £50million offer put in for Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips. When you think Newcastle spent £25m on Joe Willock last summer then £50m for Leeds’ key player and an England regular was fanciful.
Perhaps more outrageous was their reported bid for Raphinha. West Ham may have improved drastically in recent seasons but it’s naive to think they could have landed the Brazilian, who will have the pick of Europe’s elite in the summer.
There was also a last-minute bid to sign Benfica’s £45m-rated striker Darwin Nunez on Sunday as the club scrambled. But the logistics of that deal always made it difficult to get done.
Nunez was in Uruguay ahead of his national team’s World Cup qualifier with Venezuela. But he’s on the radar of European giants and Benfica are still in the Champions League so why would West Ham’s hierarchy think he’d pick them?
Antonio not only needs back-up but West Ham need more quality in attack. He has only scored two Premier League goals since October 24 and looks like a player who has been shoe-horned into his role as a striker when things are not going well.
In a desperate last-ditch attempt at landing a new forward, West Ham made a bid for Atalanta’s Duvan Zapata on deadline day but time was running away from them and the window shut before any concrete progress could be made.
There were links throughout January to the likes of Blackburn’s Chilean sensation Ben Brereton Diaz, Hugo Ekitike of Reims and Jonathan David from Lille. Now 909 days have passed since they last signed a striker – an outrageous statistic given their lack of depth in that position.
Then there appeared to be a home run with Lingard. He joined West Ham at the same time last year and flourished under Moyes, scoring nine goals and providing five assists in 16 appearances.
Out of contract in the summer, there was definitely a deal to be struck with Man United. They played hardball with Newcastle over a £12m relegation fee but if West Ham really wanted the 29-year-old then he’d be in east London by now.
West Ham made bold moves for Raphinha (left), Kalvin Phillips (second left) and a deal for Jesse Lingard was possible
West Ham made two late moves for strikers Darwin Nunez (left) and Duvan Zapata (right)
Moyes also ruled out moves for the likes of Liverpool defender Nat Phillips while a move for Marseille’s Duje Caleta-Car was based on the French side being willing to accept a loan. They didn’t.
If there is one person that must be feeling deflated it’s Moyes. He has led the club impeccably in the last two seasons but when he needed backing from those above him, he was left on his own.
It felt like the team’s recent performance under Moyes had papered over the cracks but now the fury at owners David Sullivan and David Gold, as well as vice-chair Karren Brady, is back.
Tensions between the supporters and the owners have been running high for quite some time. Protests against their failings as owners – from a lack of ambition to the move away from Upton Park – have frequently taken place in recent years.
A quick flick through social media will show the frustration fans are feeling. ‘Well done for ruining our chances of Europe next season. You are not fit enough to run the football club’ is the gist of their anger.
West Ham’s vice-chair Karren Brady has also not escaped criticism of the club’s transfer failure
Fans have called for the owners to leave for years, especially after their move from Upton Park
WHAT MOYES SAYS
Speaking on Wednesday, Moyes said: ‘It wasn’t for the want of trying, that’s for sure.
‘West Ham supporters can be reassured that we were really ambitious in what we were trying to do. We were really ambitious in trying to get good players and players who could help us and make a difference, but it just became pretty difficult in the end and we missed out on one or two late on.
‘I didn’t necessarily want to be in the situation where we were bringing players in just because we kept getting it said: ‘You need to buy a striker’. We’ve also got Jarrod Bowen and it would be very difficult to get a better back-up to Micky Antonio than Jarrod.
‘We probably made three record transfer bids from the club in this January window and let’s be fair, January is never really a great time.
‘I also believe it’s probably been tougher because we’re looking at a much different level of player now and trying to attract some of the top players throughout Europe.
‘I want to make sure that the supporters at West Ham can trust that I’m trying to spend the money wisely and we’re trying to bring in good players but also, we don’t want to bring people in who I think are only here just to pad it up. The idea in this job is to try and sign good players.’
‘Moyes, Gold, Sullivan, Brady disgraceful transfer window. Be ashamed that the “world class football stadium” won’t be hosting European nights soon. Shambolic and shameful’.
‘We are in a great position in the league and Europe to really push on with the second part of the season with a couple of new faces but no, f*** off gold, sullivan and brady!!! No ambition!!’.
‘I wish Gold, Sullivan, Brady and even Moyes nothing but sleepless nights tossing and turning realising how much they have ruined our season right now!’.
Also taking much of the blame is Rob Newman, appointed as head of recruitment from Manchester City in October. He has had the best part of three months to identify targets and pull the trigger on deals. But nothing was done.
There was also more cause for optimism going in to this window because of Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky’s purchase of 27 per cent of the club back in November.
The deal, which valued West Ham at around £600m, reduces Sullivan’s stake from 51.5 per cent to 38.8 and Gold’s from 35.1 per cent to 25.1.
West Ham supporters were desperate for new faces but the club failed to recruit anybody
There’s a chance key players like Jarrod Bowen (centre) could go with no European football
It was claimed his investment would be used to reduce the club’s long-term debt and fund ‘other key areas of focus’, one of which was thought to include spending on the squad in their bid to continue their progress.
But no funds were forthcoming from above and the most concerning thing about their lack of business is that West Ham’s season could now implode.
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City already appear out of sight while Tottenham are on the up under Antonio Conte, Arsenal are finding their feet with Mikel Arteta and you can never count Manchester United out, as dysfunctional as the club is.
Long-term, if West Ham do miss out on the top four, then more problems will arrive because it becomes highly likely that Declan Rice will be off in the summer.
Jarrod Bowen is also attracting glances from bigger clubs and Tomas Soucek is at an age where he will consider his options. Who knows how many first-team regulars will move on with no European football on offer?
From genuinely competing for a top-four spot to having your squad gutted of its best players in the space of eight months would be a catastrophe.
Moyes has already pulled off a miracle to get West Ham into this position. Now he needs to conjure up another to keep all of his hard work intact.