Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Feeling The Pinch

A couple of the morning papers have strongly linked Lucas Neill with a switch to Manchester City. In the case of the Daily Mail, it is the centre piece of a doom-laden story about the club being credit-crunched into imminent financial oblivion or something similarly sensational. The article suggests the West Ham skipper has actively been offered to both Galatasaray and Portsmouth as oppose to courted by them, and such is West Ham's financial plight that we are ready to accept a cut-price offer, believed to be less than £750,000, to allow Neill to move to Eastlands.

The defender is reportedly tempted by City's big plans for an assault on the top six, which, suspiciously, is the exact same reasoning the player voiced when he chose to join the club over Liverpool in January last year. Neill is also said to regard his old boss as one of the best managers in the game; this despite the fact he left Blackburn under a cloud of accusations and recriminations. The Mail insists the 30-year old's wages of around £60,000 a week are now the only potential stumbling block and West Ham United may have to pay off some of his contract to force through the move.

With Elano at the top of City's pay league, on £55,000 a week, and Dunne's new deal yielding around £50,000 a week, the Eastlands board are said to be reluctant to match Neill's current wages. The proposed signing of Ronaldinho would be a one-off change in the wage structure not to be repeated. The Mail insist Neill is ready to accept a drop in earnings after West Ham signalled they will grant him a final pay-off to cover the two years left on his contract. Quite why United would agree to something like this when they could just keep the club captain themselves for the same outlay is a puzzle. Surely we can't be in that much need for £750,000?

Unnamed 'sources close to the club' are said to be increasingly concerned that mounting financial problems in Iceland have forced owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson to tighten his belt and explore ways of reducing the club's overheads. Although the drive to bring in funds and lower the wage bill began yesterday with a £6million move to Fulham for Bobby Zamora and John Pantsil, West Ham's board are said to be desperate to find takers for top earner Freddie Ljungberg. Also available is Anton Ferdinand if the club receive an offer around £10 million. Newcastle, Aston Villa and Tottenham are named as clubs monitoring the situation. Goalkeeper Robert Green is another said to be attracting interest, while the club is fighting to keep versatile Northern Ireland defender George McCartney.

A dramatic downturn in the Icelandic economy is blamed for leaving the club in disarray, with several senior players either sold or available and doubts growing over Curbishley's future. Gudmundsson is said to have grown increasingly anxious at the way his country's financial troubles have multiplied since the start of the year, when investors first began voicing misgivings over whether the banks were at risk of defaulting on huge foreign loans. It has developed into a crisis of confidence in the banking sector, with reports from Reykjavik referring to a collapsing currency, rising inflation and predictions of an imminent recession.

Over at the Sun, they think Mark Hughes is ready to make an audacious bid to sign both Lucas Neill and Craig Bellamy. The players played under Hughes at Blackburn and, in the case of Bellamy, at international level. Both were sold reluctantly by Hughes during his time at Ewood Park— striker Bellamy left for Liverpool in a £6million switch while defender Neill joined the Hammers for £1.5m.

According to the article, Alan Curbishley is under increasing pressure to reduce the massive wage bill at Upton Park and the two players are believed to earn £75,000- a-week combined. It was Neill's wages, say the Sun, that forced Turkish club Galatasaray to think again about signing the Aussie defender. While City owner Thaksin Shinawatra wants to sign a big-name star and has targeted Barcelona ace Ronaldinho, Hughes is keen to bring in players who know what the Premier League is all about.

As if Alan Curbishley wasn't already under enough pressure, a leading bookmaker has just issued a press release with the odds for the new season’s “Sack Race”. Who will be the first Barclays Premier League manager to lose his job? The shortest odds accompany the names of Curbishley, Gary Megson, Paul Ince, Roy Hodgson, Kevin Keegan and the newly promoted trio of Phil Brown, Tony Mowbray and Tony Pulis. At second favourite for the race nobody wants to win, the squeeze on Curbishley these next few months looks set to be every bit emotional as it is fiscal.


Anonymous said...

same old west ham !

Anonymous said...

The club should do everything they can to keep Craig Bellamy. Lucas Neill can sling his hook as he's a strain on club resources and hasn't been putting it in for some time.

By all means look at saving money in player's wages by offloading personnel who're surplus to requirement but let's keep hold of the Bellamy's of the team!! We suffered the worst season for injuries that I can remember last year. We all waited for Bellamy, Faubert, Dyer, Ashton, Etherington etc to return for age. Hopefully the wait wasn't just to see them sold now they're back to fitness.


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