When Winston Reid joined West Ham in the summer of 2010, not a great deal was known about him.
Apart from a well taken headed goal for New Zealand in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, nobody had seen him play or heard of him before. So signing him was something of a risk, but one the club were willing to take.
After making his Hammers debut in a 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa, his form was erratic and it’s fair to say he didn’t settle into the team very well at all. Perhaps the pace of the Premier league wasn’t what he was used to coming from FC Midtjylland in the Danish Superliga. He was often out-paced & caught out of position in his early days and the club’s hierarchy must have been wondering why they spent good money on acquiring his services. But after a lacklustre start to his West Ham career, Winston knuckled down, trained hard, put in a lot of hard work & dedication, and has since gone on to become one of the most consistent centre backs in the Premier league today.
He is rarely caught out of position, leads his line well, communicates well with his fellow defenders and quickly became a crowd favourite,resulting in him becoming Hammer of the Year in 2013.
So when your players are playing well, naturally there will be interest from other clubs, and Winston is gathering plenty of it. With his current contract at West Ham due to expire next summer, he would, if he so desired, be able to leave West Ham on a free transfer. If you believe what you read in the red-tops, he is asking for a weekly wage of £60k-a-week, which isn’t extortionate and still wouldn’t make him the club’s highest earner. That honour belongs to Andy Carroll. Again, if you believe what you read, David Sullivan refuses to meet his demands and will not enter negotiations with the player until the end of the current season. By which time he may have already signed a pre-contract agreement with another Premier league club, which will mean losing a player valued at around #8-10million for nothing.
From Winston’s point of view, you can see the attraction. Whatever profession you’re in, you always want to be the best at what you do and that’s the same with footballers. You want to play at the highest level, for the biggest teams, in front of the biggest crowds and, in Winston’s mind, can he achieve that at West Ham? Leaving on a free transfer would allow him and his agent to negotiate a better weekly wage packet plus add ons for trophies and performances.
Liverpool were the first team to show an interest and the lure of Champions League football could be a deal clincher. Arsenal were the next team to come sniffing around and again the opportunity to play in Europe must be tempting, as well as staying in London, thus avoiding upheaving the family and moving house. Then the gossip columns suggested Manchester United were interested. They have had their fair share of problems at the back this season so a free Winston Reid would appeal to the red half of Manchester. Although the reds are not in the Champions League this season after a disastrous season last time out, there’s still a certain enticement and attraction of playing for Manchester United. So from the player’s point of view, I can understand why these offers would be appealing to him.
But I think it would be a terrible mistake for him to leave the club next season, and at any time for that matter. The club stood by him when he was at best an average footballer, when he first signed for the club. Many supporters were calling for him to be sold or loaned out as it was thought he just couldn’t hack it in the Premier League. But the club persisted and gave him time to develop and to get some much needed game time and experience in order to help him grow as a player and to get his confidence levels up.
Now I know loyalty in Football nowadays is rarer than rocking horse poo, but I believe Winston has the club in his heart already. His performances recently, despite potentially having his head turned by various offers, shows his love for the club. He is still only 26-years-old so he could have many more years at the top if he doesn’t allow himself to be distracted by people who will treat him as just another player.
As we move into our final season at Upton Park next year, the future of West Ham looks to be exciting, with a new Olympic Stadium to call our home. I think Winston Reid should be a part of that. A bigger stadium means more income. More income means, hopefully, better players, and better players means better football. So if our best players stick with us, we can only get better and better. Growing the West Ham brand around the world and building a team worthy of playing in an Olympic Stadium, and by keeping hold of our best players must be our aim.
Players like Winston Reid.
Will he go? I hope not. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.