As our move to the Olympic Stadium draws nearer each season, there are a number of things which we need to ensure in this transition period.
Obviously our focus is to remain in the Premier League and, in order for that to happen, our board needs to prioritise a few things. Some big new signings would stir up excitement but it is equally important to hang on to our best players. Therefore, we must place Winston Reid’s contract situation at the top of our ‘to do’ list.
Reid was born in New Zealand but moved to Denmark at the age of 10 before being signed up to play for FC Midtjylland. He represented Denmark through all the age groups but decided to play senior international football for New Zealand – where he teamed up with ex-Blackburn and Tottenham centre back Ryan Nelsen.
They represented the All Whites in the 2010 World Cup as they enjoyed an unbeaten campaign with Reid scoring an injury time equaliser against Slovakia in the opening game. On the back of the World Cup, Reid signed for West Ham for an undisclosed fee.
Reid initially struggled to adapt to the English game, with the level being significantly higher than the Danish League. He was limited to just twelve first team appearances in his first year under Avram Grant as we were relegated. Reid stuck with the club, though, and really came to the fore in our Championship year.
The 6’3’’ centre half demonstrated his defensive capabilities with solid displays both aerially and with the ball on the floor. Reid was fast developing into a fans’ favourite as his passionate displays boosted the West Ham defence. He is a very commanding player who reads the game well and can organise the back line. He has even stepped up to captaincy on occasions where Kevin Nolan has not been present.
But the unforgettable Winston Reid moment of that season was his volleyed winner against rivals Millwall to earn us a 2-1 victory.
The following year, our concern was whether or not Reid could reproduce his Championship form as we stepped back up to the Premier League. But any slight worries we had were quickly put to bed as he turned in match-winning and match-saving performances in equal measure. At times doing the job of both centre backs, he provided the foundations for a top-half finish and was undisputedly awarded Hammer of the Year.
However, last season’s injuries restricted him to a few appearances, but his return was warmly welcomed as a replacement for the hapless Roger Johnson. After a blip halfway through the season – coinciding with the absence of Reid – some sort of defensive regularity was restored and conceding goals became less frequent. He also managed another derby day goal as he opened the scoring on our way to beating Tottenham 3-0 at White Hart Lane.
A new contract should also be what Reid is looking for. We are an ambitious club ready to complete a historic transition into the Olympic Stadium. If he does sign, Reid will enter our new era as a senior player who is respected by the fans, the players and the board alike.
I believe we are willing to improve our contract offer for him but other speculation suggests that we will wait to see how he performs this year before opening fresh talks. From his point of view, it would also be a good move. He is the star performer in a Premiership defence, worshipped by the fans and will earn a good sum of money for his efforts.
Ideally, I would like to see us start the season in the Olympic Stadium with Mark Noble as captain and Winston Reid as his vice; two passionate leaders with experience of the club and fine players themselves. Our owners need to identify his contract situation as an alarming priority and get him to sign before a top club swoops at a price probably less than he is worth.