The January transfer window is a time in every season that brings excitement, suspense, hope and dread to each and every football fan. But what about the men involved hands on? The ones negotiating deals? The managers desperate to strengthen their team? The agents doing anything they possibly can to get rich quick?
Well West Ham co-chairman David Sullivan has lifted the lid on what it’s really like being on the other side of the fence during the transfer window. While we’re all taking days off work, getting the mates round and playing Jim White’s Transfer Deadline Day Drinking Bingo, the likes of David Sullivan are fighting off rogue agents and working hours on end to ensure their managers get the players they want.
Speaking to Mail Online, Sullivan said: “In this window, I have had an agent threaten me and threaten one of our West Ham players with physical violence, because he thought he was being cut out of a deal
“I heard of three or four agents trying to jump in on other deals. Some of these people are like scavengers. It was deeply unpleasant and I’m glad it’s over. Now we can get on with the football.
“Harry Redknapp was right; it feels like gang warfare out there and I can see it spilling over into violence in the future, unless there is legislation from the FA to curb the practices.”
Those comments are a real eye opener and suggest that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. We all envy the players, the club owners and the agents who earn millions each year working in the sport (or industry) we all love so much. But it appears it isn’t as easy as it seems.
Us West Ham fans have spent the last month speculating what players we want and need and wether the players linked with the club are indeed worthy of wearing the famous claret & blue or not. Sullivan has revealed the frustrating struggle he, David Gold and Sam Allardyce had in bringing in their targets.
“It has been hard work in this window. I’ve had sleepless nights. I’ve had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of calls. We signed four players but I’m not satisfied,” he added.
“We desperately needed a left back and we didn’t get one. However, I’m confident we have a strong enough team to have a successful run-in and to finish the season strongly.
“For all the deals you read about, there were 30 others we were trying. I thought we had Stephen Warnock from Aston Villa and he said he was signing. Our contract offer was for six months with an extension based on appearances and he accepted that. Then he changed his mind and signed for a Championship team in the north [Leeds].”
And that wasn’t the only player the club frustratingly missed out on. Sullivan also explained how he missed out on three other players, one of them as a result of Warnock’s indecision.
“We had a deal for the Olympiacos left back, but when Warnock said yes, we scrapped that. Then, when we tried to get the other deal back on, the chap had gone somewhere else.
“We then spoke to Juventus left back Reto Ziegler, who’s on loan in Russia and tried to make that happen, but he went to Turkey. We tried to bring in goalkeeper Paul Robinson from Blackburn, but he had an injury and hasn’t played often and we had a bit of a doubt. Honestly, it makes you feel ill. I’m glad it’s over. For now.”
Many Hammers fans have been frustrated at the ‘lack’ of, if any, inspiring, much needed signings in the January window, but Sullivan has reminded everyone that the club is still struggling with huge debts and has explained that going down the route that QPR have taken just isn’t a feasible option.
“Can I remind you that West Ham are £100m in debt. We owe £6m in connection with Carlos Tevez – to be paid in July. We have various other debt repayments in August totalling £20m,” he stressed.
“Myself and co-owner David Gold are giving away our savings. There is only so much we can do. We are ambitious and we want to bring success to West Ham. We are doing our best.
“If you look at what QPR have done, possibly putting the future of the club at risk, we cannot take that gamble. They are paying wages nobody else outside the big four or five will pay, but it means they have only one player with any sell–on value. And that is goalkeeper, who is quite brilliant – Julio Cesar, who is 33. And came on a free transfer!”
But what about Andy Carroll? What exactly are the details of his loan deal at Upton Park? Sullivan was quite stern in explaining that the player is still eager to impress Liverpool and that the club has no agreement with the player.
“It is a season-long loan. Liverpool had an option to take him back in January, but he has been injured,” he explained.
“West Ham have an agreement with Liverpool to sign him at the end of the season, but we have no agreement with the player. It was his desire to come to West Ham to prove himself to Liverpool and that hasn’t changed.”
You can read David Sullivan’s full column on Mail Online here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2271803/David-Sullivan-bullying-threats-violence-agent-demands-transfer-window.html