A letter to David Sullivan from an American Supporter
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 9 October 2020 at 11:11am
[Written by WestHamAmerican]
Dear Mr. Sullivan,
I hope you and your family are well during this time of pandemic uncertainty. I am glad the Premier League has managed to play fixtures without disruption, and I am very glad that our club has had a couple of unexpected victories over the past week.
I know every supporter of this club has their own opinion on how to move things in the right direction, and usually those opinions involve spending a lot of your money to do so. As a fan an ocean away, I think I have a bit more detached view of things. I don’t have a lifetime of memories and generational experiences on Green Street, but I certainly understand why there is a lot of unrest among our West Ham family.
Running a Premier League club is the most difficult sports team to manage. There is no salary cap, so wage growth in the league is like an arms race, and the talent comes from all over the world, so scouting is a global operation instead of a domestic operation like so many American professional sporting clubs.
I do think scouting would probably be the best investment you could make. The popular rumour is that we, as a club, are over reliant on a few agents to identify transfer options and I fear, if true, that’s fraught with potential conflicts and an increased chances for make bad decisions. I think an international scouting team under a strong director of football would pay very good dividends over the next few years. I know you recently told TalkSport that you had a bad experience with your last director of football and you didn’t want to try that again, but how many managers have we had bad experiences with? We haven’t done away with the role of first team coach. We just bring on another one until we find the right man. Looking at Leicester over the past five seasons, you can see that a competent director of football and a reliable scouting team can make a club with limited finances a very consistent winner. You might wish to reconsider and delegate those duties to someone you trust.
Having David Moyes in the manager’s role has actually grown on me. I know he’s not too flashy, but he actually wants to be at West Ham, and he has a pretty realistic vision of building a team on academy and championship talent. I’ve seen enough record signings fail at our club to feel that we might need to build from the ranks of the young, hungry, and cheap instead of looking for a £75 million hero.
Honestly, spending a tenth of that amount on facility upgrades to our training ground would be wise. I sometimes think potential signings are turned off by our Rush Green complex. These players spend a lot of time at the training ground, and ours could use some help. The recruiting advantage we have with international transfers by being in London is nullified if word is out that we lack the modern amenities that they have enjoyed at other top European clubs.
I know I said that everyone wants to tell you how to spend your money, and I suppose I’ve done just that. But spending on scouting, spending on facilities, and giving Moyes the time and space to build a squad with his realistic vision isn’t expensive and should bring results pretty quickly. I can imagine the protests and other criticisms are tough on you and Mr. Gold, but running a community-based club in England is like serving as mayor of a city. Everyone feels their vote should count, and you should make tomorrow better than yesterday; I’m sure you knew the passion of this fan base before you bought the club.
The only thing that can heal the friction with the supporters is winning. No pronouncements on TalkSport, no promises of record transfers. If West Ham is successful on the pitch, then the protests and animosity regarding the London Stadium will begin to die down. Victory heals a lot of wounds.
I hope I haven’t rambled too long. I’m sure I’ll get a lot of stick from the other supporters because I haven’t been sufficiently hard on you. I do agree with most of the common criticisms of the management of our club. But from my far away view the fixes aren’t that difficult. Our fans aren’t demanding Premier League trophies this season. We just want a good jump to the top half of the table and to consistently challenge for European football. Those goals are not outlandish. While my advice is unsolicited and very non-English, I do hope you’ll take some time to consider if any of it makes sense for our club.
Thanks for listening.
All the Best,