Will West Ham’s Bubble Burst Under Magnusson And Curbishley?

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Mr. C casts a doubtful eye at West Ham from the top down, and not just because he supports Tottenham.

My late father once described West Ham as my old Aunt Mae: “You don’t like her very much but you are forced see her at least twice a year.” Whilst my hatred of West Ham never matched the levels of my dad’s I’ve always wondered why Tottenham and Hammers’ fans care so much about each others’ club. Let’s face it, they are hardly in the same ball park when it comes to prestige.

West Ham are a well-supported club and I have a great deal of respect at the way they follow their side through thick and thin. Like Spurs they have had to put up with a great deal of mediocrity over the years but having not won a trophy for 27 years you can hardly blame me for questioning Hammers fans who try and seek parity with your more illustrious rival, who, despite a lean spell, have still managed to win five trophies and appear in another three finals since that famous Trevor Brooking header back in 1980.

West Ham have never really been a threat to my Tottenham in any shape or form. Yes, they have had their moments back in the league in 1984 and the 2006 Cup Final but in truth, all West Ham have ever had to shout about is stopping Manchester United winning the title back in 1995, or preventing Tottenham from achieving a Champions League spot. It reminds me of the days when a draw against Arsenal was the highlight of our season.

Surely West Ham supporters have deserved better than this?

I don’t think any football fan in the country would have experienced the highs and lows that West Ham fans had in the last 12months. Who could have foreseen that after witnessing that epic final in Cardiff, that they would go on to have a season which would see them having to win seven of their last nine Premiership games in order to save themselves from relegation, a staggering feat considering all the turmoil that came before it.

Much has been said with regards to where it all went wrong for West Ham last season. Certain players were criticised,including Nigel Reo Coker, Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez. To be fair to Eggert Magnusson if I had a manager who thought Marlon Harewood and Hayden Mullins were better than the Argentinians, I think I would have sacked him too. But I wonder if the removal of Alan Pardew is the only correct decision that Magnusson has made since he arrived.

There is no doubt in my mind that the uncertainty surrounding the eventual takeover was the real reason the club had such a poor season. History has proved that clubs who are embroiled in high-profile takeovers tend to struggle on the pitch. Magnusson is very lucky that Alan Curbishley was able to keep them in the Premiership. Now the club is safe, are Magnusson and Curbs really the dream ticket to take West Ham to the top? As a Spurs man should I be worried?

Magnusson has a huge chequebook and is willing to pay crazy money for players and, despite what he says, crazy wages too. But with the likes of Yossi Benayoun having his head turned, Darren Bent and others rejecting the club is there a bit of doubt seeping into that optimism that the club would now be able to attract top players rather than just a bunch of mercenaries who only come for the money? I’m not being funny but Matt Upson, Lucas Neill, Luis Boa Morte and Scott Parker are hardly world beaters and you have to question whether these types of signings are going to turn West Ham into a side capable of challenging for major honours. It could be a case of laying the groundwork and building slowly from last season, or it could be that Curbishley and Magnusson are only capable of creating a glorified Charlton.

When Gerry Francis was first appointed manager at Spurs back in 1994 he inherited a fantastic squad which boasted the likes of Jurgen Klinsmann and Nicky Barmby who were instrumental in turning round the poor start we had under Ossie Ardiles into a season which saw us nearly reach Europe on two fronts. However come the summer of 1995 that squad was decimated with the likes of Klinsmann moving on and it was up to Francis to replace them. Given his limited experience in the transfer market during his career at QPR, he struggled to adapt which ended in us signing woefully average players like Chris Armstrong, Andy Sinton, Ruel Fox, John Scales, Clive Wilson and most painfully Ramon Vega. Alan Curbishley seems to be having similar problems in adapting to the high end of the transfer market, as even his own fans are doubting his ability to convince transfer targets of the new Hammer dawn.

Curbishley will always be endeared by West Ham fans that rightly look upon him as one of their own. A self-confessed Hammer fan and player, he was the easy choice for the new chairman as he tried to appease the disgruntled fans following Pardew’s sacking.

I get the gut feeling that Magnusson, who has already confessed this summer his frustrations in the transfer market, is not the type of man to be patient and I see muddy waters ahead if Curbishley has a bad start to the season.

Curbishley claims that the target for next season will be a mid-table finish. I’m guessing that Eggert and his moneymen have other ideas – West Ham fans deserve success but will Magnusson and Curbs be that dream ticket? I have serious doubts.

[Update 1: Just saw this, Eggsy cleary is a big Mr. C fan.]