Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Inverted Sandwich

Dave Jones has emerged as West Ham's preferred choice to lead them out of the Championship, writes Sami Mokbel in today's Mail. Jones – whose future as Cardiff manager is under review following the Bluebirds’ failure to win promotion to the Premier League – has been linked with the post in the past and the odds on him taking the job were dramatically slashed last night. The Hammers sacked Israeli Avram Grant following their relegation from the Premier League last week and the board have made it clear they want a British manager next season. Co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold hope to have that appointment in place by the end of the month.

The Liverpudlian moved to the top of the wanted list after he failed for the sixth time to lead Cardiff to top-flight promotion. The 54-year-old is the longest serving manager in the Championship and was due to hold talks with Cardiff’s Malaysian owners- fronted by club chairman Dato Chan Tien Ghee- and chief executive Gethin Jenkins yesterday to discuss his very uncertain future. The Mail insists West Ham would give him an immediate route back into management should he leave his 12-month rolling contract worth £750,000 plus bonuses.

Sullivan and Gold were thought to be monitoring Alex McLeish, but after relegated Birmingham decided to stick with the Scot, they decided Jones was the man to lead them back to the top flight next season, says Mokbel. Whispers emanating from the Cardiff end last night suggested that a compensation deal had already be struck between the two clubs and a basic contract with promotion bonus agreed in principle between Jones and the Hammers hierachy. Although David Sullivan maintains a close relationship with Jones, he was still privately denying to media contacts that a decision on Grant's successor had been agreed.

That fits in with a report by Harry Harris, a known Sullivan contact, that there is a list of ten names still currently under consideration; of which Jones is not considered to be a priority. The Telegraph states that although the Cardiff manager is much admired, Martin O’Neill and Sam Allardyce — who both held talks about taking over from Grant in January — are the biggest names on the list. West Ham are thought to be waiting for O’Neill to resolve his dispute with Aston Villa, following his departure last August, which has gone to a Premier League tribunal. In contrast, any hopes of attracting Paul Lambert are dimishing with the Scot set to sign a vastly improved deal with newly promoted Norwich City. Also under consideration are former Newcastle manager Chris Hughton, Watford manager Malky Mackay and Swansea City’s Brendan Rodgers.

It is entirely possible the club may be attempting to reach provisional agreements with a number of those parties before finally making their choice; thus avoiding the kind of unseemly public courtship that can alienate potential targets further down the line. Martin O'Neill recently topped a fans' poll to become the 14th full time manager of West Ham United, and Harris 'understands' he remains the board's candidate of choice.

Whilst it is thought unlikely in football circles that the O'Neill will acceed to West Ham's overtures, Sullivan and Gold know there is an art to making such news more palatable. When the name of Dave Jones was leaked last night it was met with jubilation by the Cardiff supporters where his stock is said to be at an all time low. In east London there was begrumpled consternation. When the actual new West Ham manager turns out to be neither, the disappointment of missing the former will be offset by the relief in avoiding the latter. For want of a better name, I will call this trick the Inverted Shit Sandwich. Now the money has run out and Messrs Gold and Sullivan have effectively moved back to Nelson Mandela House, snarks Jason Froggett in this week's Guardian Gallery, we are likely to see more of the same.

Fortunately, even if this time next year we'll be heading back to the Premier League, the Inverted Shit Sandwich is a versatile snack. There is the news in this morning's Telegraph, for example, that Carlton Cole is set to lead the Upton Park exodus as United consider the cost of relegation from the Premier League. Jason Burt reveals that the striker is being courted by several admirers and could be first through the exit door. He leavens the situation by revealing the club are determined to hold on to their promising younger players as they continue the search for a new manager. You might've preferred the club to sell Frederic Piquionne, he is saying, but at least it isn't Demba Ba. Inverted Shit Sandwich.

The article states West Bromwich Albion, Stoke City and newly-promoted Queens Park Rangers are all lining up bids for the England striker. West Ham are prepared to sell some of their established stars this summer, reports Burt, as long as the deals are done early. Offers for Cole — who is available for £7 million — are expected within seven days. The club are also braced for Arsenal and Liverpool to make offers for Scott Parker, who could be sold for upwards of £8 million. Tottenham Hotspur are also keen to sign the midfielder but may not be prepared to meet West Ham’s asking price. It is also believed that West Ham would rather not sell to Spurs given the difficult relations between the two clubs in recent times, says Burt, not least over the Olympic Stadium and previous transfer deals. West Ham have insisted that they would like Parker to stay but the chances are slim given the ambitions he still holds to play for England in the Euro 2012 finals. If we have to accept Parker leaving, at least it won't be to put flesh on Twitchy Redknapp's 'bare-boned' squad. Inverted Shit Sandwich.

The third senior departure is expected to be goalkeeper Robert Green, who has just a year on his contract, and is thought to be available for £3 million. Aston Villa, who are expected to release Brad Friedel, have expressed an interest in Green but have not yet submitted a bid. At the same time, Talksport have been informed that the club are poised to make a move for Manchester United reserve keeper Tomasz Kuszczak. The Polish stopper, 29, will be out of contract with the Premier League champions next summer when he will become a free agent. Kuszczak has spent five years at Old Trafford but failed to secure a regular first-team place. The radio station believe the player would be a quality replacement for the departing Green. So we lose our newly recalled international goalkeeper but at least we won't have to rely on inexperienced youngsters or untested loanees next season between the sticks. Inverted Shit Sandwich.

Other significant savings will also be made with high-earning loanees Robbie Keane, Wayne Bridge and Victor Obinna returning to their parent clubs and the likes of Matthew Upson and Danny Gabbidon out of contract. Although the latter, along with Jonathan Spector, is understood to have been offered a new short-term deal as West Ham prepare for life in the Championship. The board are also trying to tie down a number of younger players, such as Jack Collison, to new contracts as they reshape the squad. Burt indicates striker Ba and midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger have already been asked to stay and will get improved deals.

On a seperate note, Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has been shocked at how West Ham and Chelsea sacked their managers within hours of the final whistle in the past week. The West Ham directors met immediately after their loss at Wigan last week and fired Avram Grant before some of the players had even got on the team coach. Carlo Ancelotti was also given his marching orders on Sunday immediately after the Blues were beaten at Everton and Whelan says he cannot understand how clubs can treat their managers with such disrespect.

He said: "Last week’s game against West Ham was a pivotal one, a match we had to win, a match West Ham had to win. I saw one of the greatest football games I have ever seen, either as a fan, player or chairman. I was very sad when the manager was sacked immediately after the game. I didn’t think that was right. But West Ham are West Ham and they have to get on with it." Although getting chided by 'Honest' Dave on matters of integrity somewhat sticks in the craw, at least notes the Independent's James Lawton, the West Ham board showed more class than Abramovich. It says a lot about Chelsea that in a very close run thing they were finally outclassed by the ownership of West Ham United, he notes. For quite a time it was just too hard to call but on the last lap the Hammers had it in a photo-finish.

The Gang of Three (co-chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan and the flagrant, sorry, fragrant, chief executive Karren Brady) had achieved the moral high ground over the Gang of One when they asked their hosts for that room in which to fire their manager, thinks Lawton. Roman Abramovich ordered his minions just to go do it in a corridor of Goodison Park and that little bit more quickly demolish any faint speculation that Carlo Ancelotti, a football man of charm and distinction whose brief sojourn at Stamford Bridge was marked by the Double and second place in a league reputed to be the strongest in the world, might be given the extra season which in anywhere but a football madhouse would have been more or less automatic. Less morals than Wigan but still better than Chelsea; the final addition to a platter of Inverted Shit Sandwiches.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant again! Apparently O'Neill just settled his case with Villa so is free to go back to work. I would love him here.

Paul said...

Had me in stitches, Trilby. I'm not sure an inverted shit sandwich beats pie and mash, but I fear it may be the staple at the Boleyn for the summer...

Tyrion said...

Dave Whelan can't take the moral high ground with anybody after the way he acted over Tevezgate.

Mr Moon said...

I can't believe it has taken me so long to find this fantastic blog. You need help to market yourself better because there must be tons of Hammers fans like me who are missing out. Anyway, you've just gained a dedicated new reader!


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