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They Came. We Spent. So What?

Hypocrisy in the Premiership? Shock and horror runs through the village as Effra ponders the eternal battle over having money to spend.

Football’s version of the January sales is not the time for essential purchases. Most things on offer are over-priced young wannabes, contract rebels, or other team’s cast offs. But desperate times, and times are indeed desperate at West Ham, require decisions that might seem distinctly dubious in calmer settings.

The reassuring thing, though, is that we now have a Board that is prepared to risk having more money than sense, however much some of us still worry about where this Icelandic venture is going in the long-term. And unlike our neighbours down the posher end of town, our chairman doesn’t seem to have a problem with the manager spending money according to his own judgement.

On what we’ve seen so far Boa-Morte, Quashie (about whom I was distinctly skeptical and am happy to say that I was wrong) and Davenport all look quite astute signings, although I can’t help feeling that if one of the baby Bentley boys had given as stupid a penalty away as Boa Morte on Saturday against Newcastle, they would have been crucified. I can’t believe that inexplicable handling of the ball was in the job description that Curbishley drew up for players with bags of Premiership experience.

If Lucas Neill does finally sign, the West Ham story for this week will be that we’ve become a team of mercenaries. Money is ruining English football for sure, and there is something ludicrous about the wages being talked about at West Ham at the moment. But the big club hypocrisy about this, spouted in its latest form by Benitez last week, makes me laugh. Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal have the money to secure places in the Champions League which then ensures their near permanent qualification for that tournament and more money that funds a reserve team of internationals frequently bought from clubs who have little choice but to nurture young players and thrown them into too many games too young.

When one of the Premiership also-rans then acquires a bit of money and can tempt players whom the big-boys have their eye on with more money and the prospect of more playing-time, that’s evidence of money destroying football. Whether these January sales will save West Ham I don’t know, but there’s no difference between trying to buy your way out of relegation trouble than spending your way to the pay-offs of the Champions League.