Sunday, 25 January 2009

The Golden Clasp

Ah, financial collapse, spiralling debt, conspicuous greed, scorned lovers and sordid exhibitionism; spiritual and literal human frailty laid bare on a licentious platter of poorly researched, badly written tabloid journalism. Sunday, truly is, the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week...

West Ham will offer new deals to Scott Parker, Robert Green and Matthew Upson to secure their long-term futures at Upton Park. The News of the World claims the contracts for Parker and Green will come into immediate effect while negotiations with Upson will take place at the end of the season. Displaying an alarming amount of inside knowledge, the article insists keeper Green, 29, will sign a three-year extension of his current deal and slightly improve his basic £25,000-a-week salary. While Parker, 28, gets a two-year extension on his current £50,000 deal, struck in the heady days when former chairman Eggert Magnusson was controlling the purse strings. That will take the England midfielder through to 32 but with the terms remaining the same. The club will wait until the end of the season until they sit down and discuss a potential new deal with Upson.

Rob Shepherd believes Green and Parker will have success-related bonuses inserted as part of the club’s new strategic policy of streamlining their excessive wage bill. It will allow Gianfranco Zola to plan for the future without the fear of seeing his leading players sold off. The ability of the Hammers to secure the services of Green and Parker will enhance the club’s insistence they can withstand the consequences of the collapse of owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson’s business empire.

While the Hammers have sold Matthew Etherington, loaned Lee Bowyer to Birmingham and expect both Calum Davenport and Julian Faubert to leave, they have also handed long-term deals to Carlton Cole and midfielder Jack Collison. Shepherd states it is all part of the club’s new planning, aimed at reducing the core playing squad to 20, bringing down the wage bill and nurturing new, young talent. The policy will help reduce debts which now stand at around £42million having risen to nearly £50million before Christmas, while also making the club more attractive to a potential new buyer.

West Ham is still up for sale but Gudmundsson is holding out for at least £150million. His business liabilities will be reviewed by a court in Iceland in March but West Ham remain adamant that, such is the structure of the club, it can’t be forced into administration. An insider is quoted as saying: "Gudmundsson has told the board to carry on running the club. They can’t go to him for any more money but the income stream is strong enough to keep the club running smoothly."

That belief, claims the paper, has been enhanced by re-investing most of the £14million received from Manchester City for Craig Bellamy in 19-year-old German wonderkid 'Savio Nserkeko' from Italian club Brescia. Of course, that is Savio Nsereko to you and me, but who am I to quibble with such a fine journal. Nserkeko (just go with it) will be formally unveiled by the club tomorrow. His fee is eventually expected rise to £10million, blusters the article, which would make him the club’s record signing, eclipsing the £7million spent on Dean Ashton three years ago (not to mention the £7.5million we subsequently spent on Craig Bellamy!). The paper also believes the club is weighing up a move for Fiorintina’s Italian under-21 forward Pablo Daniel Osvaldo. If that name sounds familiar, by the way, then it might be because it is the same Pablo Daniel Osvaldo who only last week publicly snubbed the Hammers when he signed for Bologna. It was obviously a rough night for somebody over at the News of the World offices.

The same paper reveals Portsmouth hope to tie up a deal for Real Madrid’s Javier Saviola when the Argentina star’s agent arrives in England tomorrow. The striker has been given the all-clear to leave the Spanish giants. Saviola, 24, is furious he has only started just once for Real this season and says the situation is "intolerable". He said: "I expressed to our coach Juande Ramos that I needed to play. I even said that if I wasn’t part of his plans, that he should tell the management to let me leave in the January transfer window because this situation is intolerable. I’m going through a very tough time." The article then credits West Ham United, Everton and Newcastle United as other interested parties. Speaking of the Geordies, another snippet contained elsewhere states Joe Kinnear is thinking about renewing his interest in Lucas Neill, while Sunderland are said to be weighing up a move for Calum Davenport.

Speaking of Davenport, the Sunday Mirror decided to dredge up the story of how the defender had a monumental bust-up with Gianfranco Zola when he was omitted from the side to play Stoke after the 4-1 Boxing Day win at Portsmouth. Zola explained that it was purely down to tactical reasons that he changed personnel for the visit by Stoke. Davenport was livid and made his protests clear. The article states Zola informed him that he would never play for the Hammers again and the humiliation didn't end there for Davenport. He was axed from the first-team squad and forced to train with the kids. All of which is to say, the paper agrees that Davenport is now poised to join Sunderland in a £3million deal.

Further raking through the more salacious aspects of the club's business, the Mirror also claims Craig Bellamy had a massive fall-out with West Ham after they refused to pay for his chauffeur. Bellamy, who was earning £65,000 a week at Upton Park demanded that the club should pay £35,000 a year to his driver. West Ham steadfastly refused to give in to his demands prior to his exit to Manchester City last week. The Wales star did a dramatic U- turn after demanding to go to Tottenham. When the Hammers refused even to entertain a bid from their London rivals it took Bellamy less than five minutes to tell City boss Mark Hughes he was on his way to Eastlands instead. Bellamy hit the jackpot by landing an £85,000-a-week contract and getting City to pay for his driver.

Over at the People, Gianfranco Zola is linked with making a move for Middlesbrough right back Matthew Bates to replace Captain Neill. The article states Zola's spies have singled out the Boro defender, who is a free agent at the end of the season. They suggest Bates could join the club in the summer, if Aussie star Neill leaves, but the deal could yet happen in this window. It is believed Neill can leave Upton Park for around £2million and if a buyer comes in Boro have enough cover in his position to let the 22-year-old Bates go. If you are anything like me then the one thing you will know about young Master Bates (snigger) is that the poor lad hit the tabloid headlines in 2006 when private photographs of him were posted on the internet. Worryingly, one of which showed him wearing a pair of skimpy briefs and another squatting in front of a mirror with an erect penis. It is understood that he had taken the pictures himself over a period of months for the benefit of his then girlfriend. For those curious male readers who are particularly comfortable with their sexuality, you can view the offending photos here. For those female readers... oh, you've already made the jump haven't you?

Another random nugget comes courtesy of Sky Sports News, where an interview with Mick McCarthy revealed United, Leicester City and Bolton are in a tug-o-war over unsettled Wolves winger Mark Davies, 20. The exciting prospect, currently out on loan at League One table-toppers Leicester, was left out of the Foxes' squad for Saturday's home game with Huddersfield. "We've had bids for Mark," said McCarthy. "We actually want to keep him and have offered him a new deal but he doesn't want to stay and has put in a transfer request." Telford-born Davies was considered a superb prospect when he first broke through from the Wolves Academy four years ago. He was rated as the club's best home-grown product since Robbie Keane by then Wolves Academy director Chris Evans, who is now on the coaching staff at Bolton with Gary Megson. Davies did well when handed his first-team chance under Glenn Hoddle, becoming almost a regular over the latter half of the 2005/06 season. "It's kind of sad that he sees his future elsewhere but, if the deal is correct, then we'll do it," admitted McCarthy.

Elsewhere, various media reports have Kieron Dyer's latest comeback stalling again. The West Ham midfield man hoped to be on the bench for the 2-0 FA Cup win over Hartlepool but is back on the treatment table with a calf problem after lasting only 38 minutes of a reserve match against Fulham last Tuesday. Dyer, 30, has made two fleeting substitute appearances this month after 17 months out, having broken his leg just weeks after his £6million move from Newcastle. Now, nearly every credible source is saying the player needs an operation and is expected to be out for a further 2 months. The News of the World, on the other hand, think the setback will be far less painful. They quote a club insider as saying: "It’s not an uncommon reaction after a long time out. He’ll need 10 days’ rest." Despite the deep misgivings already expressed in this post about the standards of reporting in that particular publication, I reserve the right to believe them when it suits me. Besides, until it is confirmed one way or the other in the Mail, nothing is gospel.

Finally, as I finish writing this, the Daily Mail are claiming Hayden Mullins is set for a move to Portsmouth. The club's have reportedly agreed a £2million fee for the former Crystal Palace man, who will have a Fratton Park medical upon agreeing personal terms. The article states Mullins has been told he can leave Upton Park as part of the cost-cutting measures forced on Gianfranco Zola (or maybe just part of Zola's stated preference for a smaller squad), while Tony Adams sees Mullins as a replacement for Lassana Diarra. In which case, I suggest somebody check Tony hasn't been adding a little "extra something" to his Gatorade again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.


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