WINSTON REID has left West Ham on an extended loan deal to Sporting Kansas City of the USA’s Major Soccer League. This blog wishes the New Zealand international every success in the States after 10 seasons with the Hammers. Apart from that final, historic, match-winning goal at Upton Park, the centre back produced at least five Premier League seasons of top quality, highly physical and committed defending, was awarded Hammer of the Year in 2013 and was in a lot of people’s Team of the Decade.
There is so often a ‘but’ following a glowing testimonial – and here it comes now: Why on earth was Reid, a player whose character was writing cheques his body couldn’t cash over the preceding couple of seasons awarded a new six-year contract at the club in August 2017? Aged 29, it was pretty clear the player’s physique was crumbling. Reid has made just 17 Premier League starts since that signature and none in the last two seasons. A shocking knee injury against Swansea was not so much bad lack as sadly, horrifically, inevitable.
Chair David Sullivan would no doubt point to the interest shown in the All White by Tottenham and Arsenal. He said at the time: “We want to keep our best players in Claret and Blue and Winston is undoubtedly one of them so, in line with our normal policy, we review the contracts of players who are doing well for the Club and reward and extend them when the opportunity arises.
He hilariously added: “As a West Ham fan, I am absolutely delighted that he has pledged his future to the Club and I am sure he will play a central role in our challenge to become one of the top teams in this country over the coming seasons.”
At the point Reid signed up, another player on a six-year deal, Andy Carroll, was about to enter his sixth year at West Ham (the first on loan) having made just 74 appearances over the previous four seasons and was out with yet another long-term injury.
Sullivan treats player trading not as a speculator doing his best to work in the market and re-invest profit into the club, but a collector loathed to let players go.
Nobody, we are told, works harder than Sulley to get players to join West Ham. Perhaps, in a rare flash of self-recognition the owner realised just how rubbish he is and couldn’t face more of the same. The most ikely scenario however, is he believes big sides and “selling clubs“ are mutually exclusive and thinks giving Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Fucking Masuaku new five-year deals is great business. In which case he is an idiot.
It’s true clubs with huge available funds don’t need to turn a profit to survive. Sides such as Barcelona, Manchester United and Real Madrid will never really struggle so long as they maintain a global image – even if, and this is important, all three are relatively speaking struggling at present (oh how we at West Ham would love such slim pickings!)
However, the current European and World Club Champions – Liverpool in case you haven’t been reminded in at least 10 minutes – are a selling club. For three of the last four seasons they have turned a profit in player trading. Sales of players such as Raheem Sterling, Luis Suarez and Phillippe Coutinho (bought for under £25million, sold for around ten times the amount) keep the club in clover. In contrast to West Ham, Liverpool would have no hesitation letting a fading or injured player leave.
Have we mentioned Andy Carroll?