Is David Gold Right To Take Such A Stance?


Never ones to shy away from the reflected limelight of their football club, the ever reticent and retiring co-owners of West Ham, David Gold and David Sullivan, must have had the week of their lives in the run up to last weekend’s clash at St Andrews against their former club, Birmingham City. In the build-up to the pair’s first return since their acrimonious departure from the West Midlands outfit, Blues boss Alex McLeish pleaded with the St Andrews faithful to concentrate their energies towards the pitch rather than the directors box;

”I would like the Birmingham fans to unnerve the opposition, but more so the team on the pitch. The Birmingham fans have been renowned for their hostility over the years, not in a nasty way, but in making people feel uncomfortable on the pitch.”

Also, following a war of words between the pair and Carson Yeung, the Hong Kong businessman they sold Birmingham City to last year, in which Gold reportedly referred to Blues acting chairman Peter Pannu as ‘disgusting’, only Sullivan was permitted to attend the match on Saturday. But in his absence at the 2-2 draw, Gold reiterated his allegiance to under-fire West Ham manager Avram Grant, telling Sky Sports News;

“I’d be devastated if Avram Grant is not with us for three, four, five, six years,”

When promptly asked whether this applied if West Ham were relegated, Gold responded;

“We will remain absolutely resolute behind our manager.”

The two questions that arise after this statement are; does he mean it? And, if he does, should Grant remain in charge no matter what?

Gold and Sullivan have built a reputation on being reluctant to sack managers having only ‘appointed four managers and parted company with two at Birmingham in 16 years’, but having already given Gianfranco Zola his marching orders, perhaps they will adopt different tactics when it comes to managers at Upton Park.

Loyalty is a precious commodity in football, and, given time to form his own team and style, I believe Avram Grant could do well at the club. But time is not something which modern football managers have in abundance, and the longer you stay at the foot of the table the shorter your life expectancy as manager will be. So it is highly doubtful that Grant will remain in charge for much longer if West Ham’s dismal form continues despite what Gold says. But if he sticks rigidly to what he implies then it is a brave decision, if not a rather foolish thing to say given the Hammers current predicament.

The reason I believe it is a foolish thing to say is that fear is a powerful motivator. I am not suggesting that Gold and Sullivan should come out and say that Grant has 2 games to save his job, but the West Ham manager knows football is a results-based business and it is implicit that relegation is not an option; he doesn’t need to be told. But if Grant feels his job is now safe because of what Gold says, it is only natural to relax and think that he can rebuild from the Championship if worst comes to worst. Backing a manager is one thing, but saying you are going to stick with a manager no matter what is entirely another; to back Grant unconditionally is to offer no incentive to the Israeli.

This, however, is all conditional on David Gold’s implications being true, and personally, if West Ham are still bottom come Christmas, I do believe both he and David Sullivan will both be absolutely resolute behind Avram Grant… pushing him out the door at the Boleyn Ground.

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