Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I have a degree in it. Most Hammers fans, if not all, would have been secretly begging and hoping the Board would dig deeper than they have and give us Charlie Austin.
And why not? He is exactly what we want. A proper Premier League striker. He can actually score goals, plenty of them, and who is worried that two of them were penalties? Not me, that’s for sure.
Eighteen goals last season whilst playing in a poor team. With the kind of service that he could expect at Upton Park, he would have had more chances, more goals and cemented a place in the England squad. Wouldn’t he?
What if he didn’t though, and we had just spent £15million plus all of the other add-on’s? What if, in his second season in the Premier League he couldn’t reproduce that form again. It does seem unlikely because wherever he goes, he scores, and he would have goal scoring opportunities in abundance at West Ham. He is exactly what we all crave, but now that seems almost certain not to happen.
With the podcast last week not being censured by the club and with his heart in the right place, Mr Sullivan spoke quite openly, although perhaps somewhat misguidedly. Since then, he has set himself an self-imposed media silence, which is a shame in one way. £15m is a lot of money for one player, if you are West Ham. Every player is a gamble, but at that price you have to weigh up the deal and what it is going to cost the club in the long term.
Maybe we haven’t got £15m, maybe we are nearing the ceiling for salaries, maybe there’s more to it that we will never know. However, I don’t think there’s more to it, I just think after splashing the cash on Andy Carroll, the Board, probably rightly, are now so much more wary. Andy hasn’t exactly begun to repay the £15m back as yet has he?
Questions over Charlie’s fitness and how he plays – will he fit into this and that formation – are now completely pointless because unless the Board complete a U-turn, eat humble pie, stump up the £15m they say isn’t there and buy him and take that gamble, he isn’t coming to the Boleyn any time soon. Unless it’s with another team.
On the other hand, taking a gamble on a player that failed a medical elsewhere hasn’t stopped us before. Actually, the club seem so desperate to sign Alex Song and get him through his medical somehow, that this is another example of taking a punt on an injury prone player. Charlie Austin didn’t miss much of last season and has started this current season in fine form. So for a player with, allegedly, no ligaments in his knee, he isn’t doing too bad really.
Another player that we gambled on that failed a medical was during the appalling Avram Grant reign. Who remembers Demba Ba freely scoring in the latter half of that season? He failed a medical at Stoke City, but we took him. Granted, it wasn’t £15m, but we did take a punt.
We are destined to bring in someone. Whether it be on loan or bought or one on loan and one bought, West Ham will have a forward or forwards before the window closes. We hope that from the list of 12 that it isn’t a complete basement type no-hoper, but with five plus bids made, we must land someone.
Maybe we’ll find another Sakho and once the injured and lame are back, we will find a pairing that will take us back to the halcyon days of great pairings like Johnny Dick and Vic Keeble, Cross and Goddard, McAvennie and Cottee and to a point, Hartson and Kitson.
If we do, it will be Charlie who? If we don’t, we will be lamenting a lost opportunity whilst someone else prospers.