"That's the whole trouble. You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak up and write "Fuck you" right under your nose."
If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is which striker have we been linked with this morning, and what his lousy goalscoring record is like, and how his club were fed up with him before we approached, and all that David Di Michele kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
But I will anyway... because the first cathode ray pictures to greet my bleary eyes this morning seemed to suggest we'd made a move for Richard Reid. It was only after I'd hurled my shoe at the television screen that I realised it was even worse than that. We had, in fact, 'agreed in principle' to sign Mido, the full-figured pharaoh. Aside from a pretty transparent attempt to replenish the squad's tumbling BMI statistics since the retirement of Dean Ashton, Sullivan and Gold seem to be unveiling their grand plan for the team to eat itself to safety; a front two of Midough and Benni McCarvery literally gobbling up the chances.
That's if McCarthy actually gets permission to play. According to various reports this morning the player has seen his £2million move to West Ham from Blackburn hit a snag due to a work permit problem. The Sun states the hitch is set to deny the South African the chance of a debut against Rovers at Upton Park tomorrow, even though the striker has already met his new teammates. McCarthy, 32, had agreed a 2½-year deal but his permit is expiring and because of a lack of recent international appearances getting a new one could prove a problem. The news will also frustrate Rovers boss Sam Allardyce, who needs the cash to bid for James Beattie or Benjani as a replacement.
Allardyce is quoted in the Mail as saying: "It's close to him finally becoming a West Ham player. It's a work permit situation, that's the only hiccup and that should be resolved by Sunday." McCarthy infuriated Allardyce by not turning up for training in order to force through a move but Rovers midfielder David Dunn said McCarthy would not 'lose much sleep' over leaving the club under a cloud. "Sometimes things like that happen, it's perhaps not always the best way but I'm sure Benni will not lose too much sleep over it," he said. "There has been a bit of attention on Benni over the last week but maybe he feels this is the right career move for him. He has been a good goalscorer for the club and is a good lad as well so I wish him all the best." Gianfranco Zola would add only: "He's a quality player, a good goalscorer and also very good at linking the play. He was one of our main targets and it is good that the club has been able to sign him."
Speaking in the Mirror, Robbie Savage believes McCarthy could be the best signing of the transfer window - "even if he did once call me technically the worst player he'd ever seen!".
He christened me 'Stinky' after we sat on a hot team bus with our club suits on and I took my blazer off to reveal huge sweat patches under my armpits. I called him 'Benni NoCalfy' - and if you ever look at his legs you'll see why. He's the only footballer I've ever seen with no calf muscles whatsoever.Meanwhile, various papers say West Ham are the latest to try to tempt Tottenham into letting winger David Bentley move on loan. As the Guardian quips, "West Ham have read about Spurs turning down a loan bid from Sunderland for the out-of-favour midfielder, and have promptly made a loan bid for the out-of-favour midfielder". To be precise, Sunderland asked to take Bentley until the end of the season but Spurs were only interested in a transfer. Manager Gianfranco Zola is desperate to boost his Hammers squad and sees £15million Bentley, 25, as an ideal short-term solution.
I remember the pair of us playing on a bog of a pitch as Rovers beat Middlesbrough 2-1. Afterwards, he said "you should play in the mud every week". What he meant was that while he and I were at different ends of the scale skills-wise, I made up for it with desire and work rate.
Benni is a great striker who would score plenty of goals and keep West Ham up. But - how shall I put this - he's a bit laid back sometimes. In fact, on one famous occasion Mark Hughes showed us the Pro Zone stats after a match and our keeper Brad Friedel had run farther in the game than Benni!
He's a top, top player whose potential move really stands out in what has been a quiet transfer window so far.
The moves for Mido and McCarthy signal the end of United's interest in Benjani. Sky Sports 'understands' that West Ham will not be pursuing a permanent or loan deal for the former Portsmouth star. They report the Zimbabwean was out of favour at City under former boss Mark Hughes but new manager Roberto Mancini appears prepared to offer players a chance to impress. Having allowed Robinho to return to Santos on loan on Thursday and, with Roque Santa Cruz struggling for consistent fitness, the Italian may now have been unprepared to allow further departures.
The same source states Palermo would like to sign Valon Behrami but not until the summer. The Swiss midfielder's agent announced earlier in January that his client was expected to stay at West Ham because no team could afford his price tag. However, Sky insist that Serie A side Palermo could come into money from the sale of in-demand defender Simon Kjaer and president Maurizio Zamparini has declared an interest in Behrami. The Italian club hope that the connections of their sporting director, Walter Sabatini, could broker a deal, with Zamparini telling stadionews.it: "We're trying to take him. The negotiation is difficult and complicated, especially for the salary the player receives in the Premier League, but Sabatini is his friend and let's see how it goes. Behrami is a very good player."
But Zamparini would not want to complete any deal until the summer transfer window. He added a few hours after his initial interview: "We still like the player but it is unlikely that he will arrive. In any case, we will try and buy him but not now because it would upset the balance of the team. The interest is real but it is for June. Now I would not even take him for free." If a deal was struck with Palermo then it is likely reserve goalkeeper Rubinho would be part of any package coming the other way.
In other (momentous) news, West Ham have confirmed the resignation of chief executive, Scott Duxbury. The move comes as a result of this month's takeover of the club by David Gold and David Sullivan, with Duxbury effectively being squeezed out when the owners brought in their former Birmingham colleague Karren Brady as vice-chairman. "I am proud of my work at West Ham United, but feel the time is right for me to pursue other opportunities," said Duxbury in a statement. "I wish Mr Sullivan, Mr Gold and Karren great success in driving this wonderful football club forward, and I know under their stewardship the club will prosper. Thank you to all the supporters who have kept faith with the club through good and bad times."
Duxbury joined West Ham as the club's in-house lawyer under the then chairman Terry Brown, and was subsequently promoted to chief executive by Eggert Magnusson after the club was bought by an Icelandic group. However, his time running the club was blighted by controversy, not least because of his role in signing Carlos Tevez in a deal which breached Premier League rules and will subsequently cost the club more than £30million in fines and compensation payments. Indeed, Duxbury presided over one of the most tumultuous periods in the history of the club and earned grudging respect for keeping things afloat during the post Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson months. Brady thanked Duxbury for his valued contribution and wished him every success in the future. Which is fair enough I guess, although it seems to me akin to praising an arsonist for trying to put out his own fire. Writing in the Telegraph, John Ley thinks speculation will begin over the future of Gianfranco Zola at Upton Park given the 'close relationship' between the pair.
Duxbury's exit had widely been expected but the manner of it has come as something of a surprise, reports the Mail. He is believed to have been given golden handcuffs in his employment contract, along with other club directors under the stewardship of Terry Brown. The terms provided for a 24-month notice period entitling the board member to two years' salary in compensation for loss of office. Duxbury earned £474,000 in the 12 months to May 2008 but that is understood not to reflect his current entitlement. One insider told The Guardian that the compensation he would be due if dismissed is closer to £2m. His resignation is likely to waive much of the settlement.
The Mirror thinks Duxbury was unhappy at the sweeping, draconian economising imposed by the new regime. The same paper goes on to outline the "amazing string of cost cutting measures" introduced by Karren Brady, which includes even ordering staff to turn the lights and heating off. In the John Cross 'exclusive' it is revealed West Ham’s new owners are desperately trying to save the club and our new vice-chairwoman has been put in charge of cutting the crippling debts. Ruthless Brady gained a reputation at former club Birmingham for being a no-nonsense operator. David Gold insists that the tough measures have his and Sullivan's full support as they desperately try to save the club following their takeover. "Karen is our financial doctor," said Gold. "She identifies problems and helps us fix them. This is what we are good at and it is a great challenge. All non-footballing costs are being looked at. We are looking at absolutely everything. We will not damage the footballing side, but we need to cut costs to increase income. It’s not brain surgery."
Gold, Sullivan and Brady having been scathing about the club’s previous owners and are keen to make their mark with the stringent off-the-field cutbacks. Judging by the club website, notes today's Express, nobody is safe. Intriguingly, the staff section is ‘coming soon’ and ‘this new section will appear shortly’. So far, these measures include:
- Sacking legends Tony Cottee and Tony Gale, as well as TV star Matt Lorenzo, as £40,000-a-year club ambassadors.
- Ordering a massive reductions in Gianfranco Zola’s medical staff- some of them on up to £200,000-a-year- even though it was a department that the manager had championed and was keen to improve.
- Beginning a battle with the FA to get £15m compensation after Dean Ashton was forced to retire after injuring his ankle on England duty.
- Trying to force out big-money reserves as they believe the current squad is far too big... Luis Jimenez has returned to Italy to join Parma and Nigel Quashie has joined Queens Park Rangers.
- Suspended injured defender Calum Davenport’s £20,000-a-week wages until his court case is resolved.
- Leaving Technical Director Gianluca Nani to face the axe after making a string of signings which have turned out to be expensive mistakes.
- Telling staff not to leave lights on and insisting the heating should be turned off.
- Considering the sale of England defender Matt Upson rather than let him run down the rest of his 18 months contract.
John Cross insists it is the treatment of Calum Davenport that has raised the most eyebrows. The unfortunate stab victim has been accused of assaulting his sister in an incident which led to him being stabbed in both legs and the club has insisted that until his case is resolved his wages will be suspended. Davenport continues to train with West Ham and legal experts, the PFA and Premier League have all been called in. The PFA is looking at whether West Ham are breaking any rules and are hopeful of overturning the club’s ruling, while Davenport, whose wife recently gave birth to a baby daughter, is hoping the Premier League also rule in their favour and order West Ham to backdate the wages. Zola had previously backed Davenport, while it was former chief executive Scott Duxbury who broke the news over the suspension of his wages.
And that's it for now, except to say: "Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody." Peace JD.