Sullivan’s sting in the tail

IN the most predictable set of events since Jack Wilshere last presented himself to the club medical team, a West Ham slump in form has been followed by a welter of briefing against club employees. Even though Manuel Pellegrini’s job is said to be safe (it would cost a lot to sack him and his staff), Mario Husillos’ reign as Director of Football appears to be nearing a close at the London Stadium.

Pertinent to these events are the old Russian fable featuring a frog and a scorpion. Put briefly it goes something like this; A scorpion asks a frog to carry it across a river. The frog afraid of being stung defers. But the scorpion prevails, reasoning should it attack the frog they will both surely die. The frog relents and begins to carry the arachnid on its back. Midstream the scorpion stings the frog, dooming them both. The dying frog asks the scorpion why, to which the scorpion replies “I couldn’t help it. It’s in my nature.”

Just as the scorpion can never escape his deadly instinct even when it leads to his own demise, so Hammers owner and coincidentally Soviet paraphernalia wearer David Sullivan is drawn to implicitly criticising staff members via friendly journos and bloggers every bit as surely as a drunk will inevitably weave their way to a kebab shop. It’s in his nature, you see.

Quite what the bloggers themselves get out of the transaction is difficult to ascertain. Any “reflected glory” from our owners would be about as lustrous as a ten quid fake Rolex brought back from a holiday in Turkey. The paradox is Sullivan engages in this activity in an apparent desperate attempt to keep supporters onside – yet is the owner of one of only two clubs in the country that refuse to interact with supporters’ groups. He insists we supporters listen but refuses to reciprocate.

A good owner would stand or fall by their own actions, not donate responsibility to staff members. Many fans see through this charade and recognise the Chairman’s behaviour as weak and indecisive, just as in our own workplace we all know a boss for whom ‘shit rolls downhill’.

The remedy is for Sullivan to butt out. Unfortunately, he seems to have little idea of the overarching role a DoF actually entails, meaning any appointment would be on a haphazard basis. In that sense if no other it was a reasonable process that saw Husillos chosen not by the Hammers’ owner but by his own head coach that in any well-run club would be a subordinate. File under: Only at West Ham.

Sullivan’s period in the job saw him rely almost exclusively on agents instead of a scouting network, a process that has resulted in too many “marquee signings” at the expense of future revenues. There are persistent rumours at other clubs that West Ham are too close to one agent in particular. Until Sullivan comes face to face with the reality that he is the problem not the solution and the process is every bit as important as personnel we fear “Dabbler Dave” will persist and money will continue to be wasted.


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