Wednesday, 28 January 2009

A New Philosophy

West Ham United chief executive Scott Duxbury believes that the club is moving in the right direction following the signing of Savio Nsereko. Duxbury, talking to Sky Sports News in the wake of Nsereko's unveiling yesterday morning, reiterated that the club are determined to hang on to their key players despite constant media reports claiming an imminent fire-sale due to Chairman Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson's financial difficulties. He also repeated claims, first published in the Independent last week, that the days of selling star players to local rivals Tottenham are well and truly over.

"The January transfer window is perplexing," said Duxbury. "You're in the middle of a race and then suddenly you've got to lose some of your players. You should be able to get to the end of the race with the squad you've got - and we're doing well. We didn't want to lose any players because I think we can achieve something quite special this season. There is a change of philosophy at this football club; I keep referring to the football project, it's a business plan that we stick to [in order] to deliver success.

"Part of it is that we need to be aware of our fans expectations, and we need to be aware who our local rivals are. There's a massive rivalry between ourselves and Tottenham. As I've said, it's nothing against Tottenham but why on earth should we sell any player that would strengthen their team? We're competitive, we're in a competitive league. I want to finish above Tottenham year after year and I want to deliver success - so I won't be selling any of our players to our local rivals, it just makes no sense to me."

The United CEO also emphasised that Scott Parker, Matthew Upson and Robert Green would stay at the club. The trio have been linked with a move away from the Hammers this transfer window, given West Ham owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson has been hit by the credit crunch. But Duxbury - while admitting there has been 'a lot of interest' in the players - says the club are determined to keep hold of all three.

Asked what was the latest on the contractual situation with the trio, Duxbury revealed: "Throughout this window there was a lot of interest in all of those players, some of it real and some of it through the media. I contacted every single player, reassured them that we didn't want to sell them and got the commitment back from them that they didn't want to go. I have spoken to their agents. When the window shuts we will be sitting down and we will be talking about extending their contracts - and all of them are happy to stay."

The club have reinvested some of the £14million they recently received for Craig Bellamy on record signing Savio. Duxbury restated his pledge to fans that the club will keep their best players as well as look to strengthen Gianfranco Zola's squad. He said: "I tried to reassure everybody at the start of the window that we would be keeping our best players and where possible, we would try and strengthen. I think today is a vindication of our activity during this window."

He also stressed to fans that the club's finances are fine, adding: "It's robust, it's absolutely robust - it's the nature of the football project. We have a manager that doesn't require external investment. He knows that what he sells, he can keep, so he can constantly evolve this football club. He's very, very happy with the squad."

Scott Duxbury says he is looking forward to clearing West Ham United's name at the forthcoming hearing into the ongoing Carlos Tevez affair. The latest step in the ongoing legal battle regarding Tevez and possible compensation for Sheffield United is a new hearing to determine whether the Hammers broke further rules relating to the final three games of the season - games seen by the most recent tribunal, who ruled in favour of the Championship club, as having paramount importance to the club's final league placings.

Yet Duxbury, who recently appointed a new legal team to oversee the case, remains adamant that United would ultimately be vindicated. "We welcome it absolutely," he said. "It's an affair that seems to have gone on for far too long now and this is an opportunity for us once and for all to show that we did absolutely nothing wrong. We didn't break any undertakings to the Premier League - we absolutely adhered to them. Myself and (former executive chairman) Eggert Magnusson of course met with Tevez's representatives, that's what you would do as a competent official of a football club. We often meet with players' representatives and this is an opportunity once and for all to clear it up and prove that we did absolutely nothing wrong, so we absolutely welcome it."

Duxbury also hit back at his critics, stating that nothing would deter him from achieving his ambitions for the club. "I have been at this football club for many, many years now, I've got the absolute support of the Board and the Chairman and I'm absolutely confident in what I'm trying to achieve," he added. "Of course Tevez is a distraction, but there are numerous distractions - and I think my job here is just to guide the football club with the board through these distractions and make sure that my management team, which I've got complete confidence in, is absolutely focused on delivering success. There may be people out there who want to criticize, there may be people who want to distract us, but it simply won't happen. Nothing will deter us from delivering the success that we know we can achieve."

Asked if he would ever consider resigning over the affair, he said: "No, absolutely not. As I have said, I have got the complete support of my board and my chairman and I've done absolutely nothing wrong." Duxbury also called for trust from the fans. "We have got to get trust back with our fans and this is why I took the unprecedented step at the start of the window to try and reassure the fans what the club is about, what we are trying to achieve, and I think that it's so far so good. I can talk all I want and reassure the fans the top players aren't going to leave but I think the fans will wait till the 1st of February. What I can say is that they won't be disappointed, the top players are not leaving and we are trying to reinforce."

Duxbury also admitted there was never a chance of Craig Bellamy joining Tottenham. The Hammers flatly refused to consider an offer for Bellamy this month because they suspected Spurs were trying to unsettle him. Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp denied this but Spurs backed out of the transfer, allegedly striking a pact with Manchester City which allowed City a free run at Bellamy in return for dropping their interest in Wigan’s Wilson Palacios, who then moved to White Hart Lane. Duxbury told Sky Sports News: "I made it quite clear to Craig that there wasn't any possibility of him joining Tottenham. Why on earth should we sell any player to our rivals that would strengthen their team?"

He reiterated Spurs can no longer expect to plunder Upton Park for talent like Jermain Defoe and Michael Carrick. "It just makes no sense to me. I won't sell any of our players to our local rivals," said Duxbury. "We need to be aware of our fans’ expectations and to be aware who our local rivals are and there is a massive rivalry between ourselves and Tottenham."

Of Bellamy's move to Manchester City, Duxbury added: "I am not sure it is a sale, because a sale implies that we wanted to do it - which we didn't. We made it quite clear to Craig that we wanted him to stay. We didn't want to lose any player because I think we can do something quite special this season. I think it might have been six bids that we turned down. I wouldn't say there was animosity. We didn't want him to go and he left, so that is never a comfortable situation. But as far as I am concerned Craig is no longer a West Ham player, he's not my concern. My concern is (new signing) Savio and the rest of the West Ham players."

Duxbury also confirmed that rumours of Bellamy going on strike were wide of the mark. "He did not go on strike. On the Friday that we had the meeting he made it quite clear to me that he wanted to leave and join Tottenham. He was in no frame of mind to train so we both agreed that it was probably best he went home and considered his position. At that point I was still hopeful he would reconsider and continue to play for West Ham, but as the days went on it became quite clear that wasn't a possibility. I made it quite clear to Craig that there wasn't any possibility of him joining Tottenham. I think he understood that the transfer was never going to be a possibility - and he thought again."

Bellamy also denied reports that he refused to play against Fulham, a game won 3-1 by the Hammers. "I've heard all this talk about me going on strike but I have absolutely no idea where it has come from," he said. "I cannot understand it. Maybe in the past I have done some things that I shouldn't have - but this one is not true."

Meanwhile, Sheffield United chairman Kevin McCabe has responded to charges by writer Martin Samuel of further third-party interefence with regard to the transfer of Matthew Spring from Luton to Charlton. Spring, who was on loan at Sheffield United was allowed to prematurely end his season-long arrangement with the Blades in order to sign a permanent deal with Charlton - but, according to Samuel, only on the proviso that he sit out Charlton's FA Cup fourth round clash with Sheffield, which the Yorkshire club won 2-1.

Speaking in a club statement posted on Sheffield United's website on Monday evening, McCabe said: "This is an outrageous article and wholly inaccurate. We have not broken any Football Association and Football League rules. For some time now Mr Samuel - whether at The Times, his past employers, or at the Daily Mail where he now works - has pursued a crusade against Sheffield United. As usual his reports are without foundation and I suggest he concentrates his time on reporting the truth rather than spurious allegations. I gather Martin is a West Ham supporter so, maybe, in some clumsy way, he believes his regular attacks on the Blades helps to protect their wrongdoings over the Tevez affair."

The Sheffield United fans have now orchestrated an online petition to argue "Martin Samuels (biased journalist) should be sacked." If we ignore for a minute that they have even failed to get the man's name right, a closer inspection of the some 850 signatures (eg... Wilfred Whippetsniffer, Clungepipe McTwunt, Tripe Ekerslike and Big Gay Blade) reveals things are not all they seem.

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