AT first glance West Ham’s recently announced pre-season tour looks a bad idea. However, on closer examination it immediately becomes apparent it’s actually completely fucking idiotic. With all respect to Aussie Hammers who have never seen their heroes in the flesh, a trip half way across the globe in the middle of pre-season in order to play Crystal Palace of the Premier League and Brisbane Roar – a middling team in a poor league is some way short of optimum preparation.
Previous tours to the US and New Zealand have resulted in a spate of injuries and there is no reason to think this one might be any different. Jack Wilshere can barely make Rush Green without hurting himself, so a bite from Queensland’s lethal brown snake appears all but nailed on.
Preparation for the rigours of 38 games plus season (46 if we are relegated) should be with a technical view to players hitting the ground running and maintaining that level of fitness throughout a demanding season. Instead of which the Irons squad face two 20 hour plus flights and 12 hours of jetlag to play in two meaningless friendlies. Do the club still possess a sports science team – and if so it would be interesting to know how they felt about the trip?
Six years ago, the players made a similar journey to New Zealand. And then-manager Sam Allardyce was less than pleased with the schedule as he remarked: “We only got back from New Zealand on Monday, which was probably a trip too far. The journey … was too far. We got a few injuries, that was the biggest disappointment.”
Given the current small, ageing and injury-prone squad a good pre-season would be designed to minimise the risk of further injury. But sod those concerns, sod coronavirus and sod global warming – the first team face a ludicrous journey to a backwater city in a backwater league to flog a few shirts in a market that is small and far from emerging.
As ever with our inept owners a dollar in the bank now is considered worth more than any future investment. A clue to the reasons behind the tour can be found in the announcement on the official site that reads more as advertorial than any guide for fans. However much money the club receive it will be chicken feed compared to the rewards of the Premier League. Whether the club are seeking to re-establish a future at the top level or rejoin the elite all efforts should be directed towards onfield success, not a bung for club officials.
There is of course, an alternative scenario. Maybe our board believe Brisbane, Australia is far enough away for them not to face the sort of protest that has become the norm in our own country?