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John Simkin

Martin O'Neill: Manager of West Ham

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I believe Martin O'Neill will become manager of West Ham over the next few days. I know his friends have been telling the press that he is not interested in the job. On Thursday night Paddy Power had him at 20-1 to become the next manager. Last night so much money was taken on his appointment he was at 2-1. Clearly, the negotiators and their selected friends are making some holiday money.

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I believe Martin O'Neill will become manager of West Ham over the next few days.

That might be the best bit of news for West Ham fans for some years.

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I believe Martin O'Neill will become manager of West Ham over the next few days.

That might be the best bit of news for West Ham fans for some years.

Since John Lyall (1974–89) we have only had one decent manager - Harry Redknapp (1994–2001). It will be interesting to see what O'Neill can do for the club. However, I fear that if he does well he will become manager of Liverpool before the start of next season.

I see the BBC are now reporting that Avram Grant will be sacked and replaced by O'Neill.

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It really is awful how Avram Grant has been treated the last few weeks.

He's been seriously undermined yet the team goes into the 2nd leg of League Cup a goal up and also put a reasonable enough run together to keep us within touching distance of the teams in the relegation mire. Until the defeat at home to Arsenal only Man Utd had a better record over the last month...

Martin O'Neill is no doubt lined up to take over and is probably our best chance at avoiding relegation.

However, he must surely be aware of the abysmal treatment Grant has received and I for one wouldn't blame him if he passed on the opportunity of stepping into this particular minefield.

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It really is awful how Avram Grant has been treated the last few weeks.

He's been seriously undermined yet the team goes into the 2nd leg of League Cup a goal up and also put a reasonable enough run together to keep us within touching distance of the teams in the relegation mire. Until the defeat at home to Arsenal only Man Utd had a better record over the last month...

Martin O'Neill is no doubt lined up to take over and is probably our best chance at avoiding relegation.

However, he must surely be aware of the abysmal treatment Grant has received and I for one wouldn't blame him if he passed on the opportunity of stepping into this particular minefield.

Grant has two main problems. (1) His team do not win enough matches. That is why West Ham are bottom of the league. He had the same problem at Portsmouth. (2) Every so often, his team produce abysmal performances. For example, Liverpool, Newcastle and Arsenal. In these games they look clearly the worse team in the division.

Grant should have been sacked at the beginning of the transfer window. By this time it was clear he was not up to the job. Instead, the board kept him hanging on while they began negotiating with possible replacements. This caused problems for the men themselves as they are unhappy with discussing jobs while people are still in post. O'Neill was apparently furious that someone at West Ham leaked the news that he was going to replace Grant on Saturday night. He is insisting that there should be a reasonable gap between Grant's sacking and his appointment. As we discovered with the sacking of Zola on a trumped up charge, Gold and Sullivan are not honourable men.

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Guest Gary Loughran

John, you are very kind to note Grant has only 2 main problems and not mention his absolute inability to coach or manage. His tactics belong in the dark ages. Spector couldn't make the West Ham squad for PL matches and suddenly one, only half decen (no more than that) performance in the cup against Man U has turned him into a world beater. Excuse me if I think Grant doesn't know what he's doing.

As for O'Neill - I agree with Andy, it would be the best thing to happen West Ham in years. I suspect the news was leaked from West Ham by someone close to Grant or his pal at Chelski. Everyone is aware that O'Neill has principles which would make it embarrassing and difficult for him to take over a job when he has been seen to negotiating behind the incumbents back! So I can only surmise the leak was deliberate and to the advantage of Grant.

I just hope we don't make a change for change sake. If O'Neill rejects the post, I would hope that Jol is not considered. Perhaps a 6 month contract to Allardyce would work or give the job to Brooking. All I know is - every day Grant stays in the job we regress as a club.

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Guest Gary Loughran

It appears certain O'Neill has turned down the opportunity/sentence to manage West Ham!

Undoubtedly, as much as he was angered by the leak (I've been told Robbie Keane let the cat out of the bag) - he was much more likely to have been turned off by the clueless performance against Arsenal.

Humiliatingly, we might be stuck with Grant, a so amoral he has stated he won't resign. His tactics in changing nothing at half time against Arsenal only served to highlight his absolute lack of discernible ability.

Even worse, the mess West Ham's board have made of this, has actually gained symapthy from inside football. We can discount Mick McCarthy's rant as he only wants Grant to remain at West Ham to better Wolves odds of survival!

The recovery from Zola and Grant, all of which is actually a recovery from Redknapp and Brown, will be long and slow and will start in the Championship - if there is a God, Avram Grant will be long gone from West Ham and will have walked without compensation...he might also have recognised he is utterly incapable of management no matter what Abramovic tells him.

Oy Vey!!!...indeed.

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What a mess. It seems that David Sullivan and David Gold preferred candidates, including Martin O'Nell, Sam Allardyce and Martin Jol have warned that up to six ­signings before the end of January would be the minimum requirement to keep the club in the Premier League. In other words, they need money that is not there. I suspect the only manager willing to accept the job on these conditions is Chris Hughton. Hopefully, they will get him because if we keep Grant we will be relegated.

Hughton is a former member of the Workers' Revolutionary Party. Maybe he can have the same success as socialist managers such as Bill Shanky, Jock Stein, Brian Clough and Alex Ferguson.

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Guest Gary Loughran

What a mess. It seems that David Sullivan and David Gold preferred candidates, including Martin O'Nell, Sam Allardyce and Martin Jol have warned that up to six ­signings before the end of January would be the minimum requirement to keep the club in the Premier League. In other words, they need money that is not there. I suspect the only manager willing to accept the job on these conditions is Chris Hughton. Hopefully, they will get him because if we keep Grant we will be relegated.

Hughton is a former member of the Workers' Revolutionary Party. Maybe he can have the same success as socialist managers such as Bill Shanky, Jock Stein, Brian Clough and Alex Ferguson.

I will studiously ignore any calls for Chris Hughton or any sentence where Hughton and manager are within 5 words of eachother. West Ham need to move forward.

Not for one second was O'Neill's refusal to manage, the desperately adrift, West Ham due to money - or availabilty of money for signings. Not a chance whatsoever. It is simply a bad career move - the 'fury' at the leak merely disguises this truth. Who could work with pond life like West Ham's 'trusted aide' Barry Silkman - a treacherous leach, who whouldn't know the arse end from the kicking end of a footballer, much like our manager. Who could work with a team which has first team regulars such as Faubert, Gabbidon, Reid, Ilunga, Dyer, Spector, Kovac, Sears, Boa Morte, Cole, Barrera and just when you thought we had gotten rid of one fat, uselss, overpaid player, West Ham are trying to negotiate an extension to the loan for Ben Haim - a player who can't make the team, as bad as it is. A team bereft of leadership on (where it borders on cowardly) or off the pitch (where it is cowardly). A team where Wally Downes, Wally Downes for God's sake, is hailed as a near messiah for mending a broken defence; whilst at the same time our goal difference has gotten worse.

[back on edit, in anger] On Ben Haim, he wasn't fit very often, couldn't make the team and ocasionally the squad for League games, and in a team with one of the worst defences in the history of the Premier League, is overpaid (the reason Pompey want rid of him) and lets be honest is an appalling player and always has been. Question - why are we negotiating to take him on loan...even cheaply? This is a disgrace and maybe, just maybe, is a sop to Grant.

Have the board, through their poor judgements recently, now effectively relinquished immediate decision making on transfers to Grant to appease him and the media???

Good news, Joe Cole is saying no (at the moment). He'd rather earn £90k a week doing nothing rather than expose himself as a wash out, by actually earning his money on the field.

We are beyond a mess.

I hate West Ham and everything it means to me and have done for too long now. Which is too much to bear the travesty of Silkman's por players and Grant's poor maangement running the club into the ground.

Worse still, and yes it's possible to get worse. Grant wants to bring back Joe Cole. Joe Cole is done; finished as a top flight footballer. Repeat Joe Cole is done. He can't make the squad of the worst Liverpool team in living memory. He was out of breath in an interview after a match in which he made a 15 minute cameo appearence. He can't run more than 25 yards without having to put his hands on his hips and recover (if he gets on a pitch again look out for this, if it's in doubt). Stopping smoking might be a decent first step on his route back to being a professional footballer. Please don't let this be at West Ham, though.

I beg West Ham's owners to dump Silkman as a trusted agent, Grant as manager and any notion of signing Joe Cole for the good of the Club.

Grant has a reputation in Israel as being a lucky manager, now we are lumbered with the incompetent, luck might just be all we have to keep us up this year. It sure won't happen by design.

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I beg West Ham's owners to dump Silkman as a trusted agent.

It was Barry Silkman who disclosed on Sky Sports News yesterday that Avram Grant was not being replaced. This news has now been confirmed of the West Ham website. It seems that the proposed sacking of Grant was some sort of media plot and that he is going to stay for the rest of the season.

There is no chance of Silkman being dismissed as Gold and Sullivan's adviser. Nor will we get rid of the influence of Pinhas Zahavi. Silkman and Zahavi were both named in Lord Stevens' final report on transfer bungs. “Agent Pinhas Zahavi has failed to co-operate fully with the inquiry. There was an initial failure to disclose his involvement in a number of transfers but, more seriously, he has failed to provide the inquiry with complete bank statements due to the confidential nature of them. There has also been a lack of responsiveness by Zahavi. There remains questions relating to his relationship with, and payments to, licensed agent Barry Silkman, and with Silkman's failure to initially disclose his involvement in all the transactions in which he has received fees.”

How can it be right that football agents such as Silkman and Zahavi can have such control over a football club? Mind you, Silkman does have experience as a footballer. When he signed for Manchester City by Malcolm Allison he was the last British-born Jewish footballer to play professionally in one of the top divisions before Joe Jacobson in 2007. (He only played 19 games for Allison before being sold to Brentford.)

Is it possible that Silkman and Zahavi have some sort of hold over Sullivan? For example, in April 2008, Sullivan and Karren Brady were arrested by City of London Police and questioned on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting in connection with an ongoing investigation of alleged corruption in English football.

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Guest Gary Loughran

I beg West Ham's owners to dump Silkman as a trusted agent.

It was Barry Silkman who disclosed on Sky Sports News yesterday that Avram Grant was not being replaced. This news has now been confirmed of the West Ham website. It seems that the proposed sacking of Grant was some sort of media plot and that he is going to stay for the rest of the season.

There is no chance of Silkman being dismissed as Gold and Sullivan's adviser. Nor will we get rid of the influence of Pinhas Zahavi. Silkman and Zahavi were both named in Lord Stevens' final report on transfer bungs. “Agent Pinhas Zahavi has failed to co-operate fully with the inquiry. There was an initial failure to disclose his involvement in a number of transfers but, more seriously, he has failed to provide the inquiry with complete bank statements due to the confidential nature of them. There has also been a lack of responsiveness by Zahavi. There remains questions relating to his relationship with, and payments to, licensed agent Barry Silkman, and with Silkman's failure to initially disclose his involvement in all the transactions in which he has received fees.”

How can it be right that football agents such as Silkman and Zahavi can have such control over a football club? Mind you, Silkman does have experience as a footballer. When he signed for Manchester City by Malcolm Allison he was the last British-born Jewish footballer to play professionally in one of the top divisions before Joe Jacobson in 2007. (He only played 19 games for Allison before being sold to Brentford.)

Is it possible that Silkman and Zahavi have some sort of hold over Sullivan? For example, in April 2008, Sullivan and Karren Brady were arrested by City of London Police and questioned on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting in connection with an ongoing investigation of alleged corruption in English football.

I have mentioned elsewhere on this forum the taped conversation where Silkman wishes Bobby Robson's cancer would spread all over his face, and that he would live for a long time so he would suffer more. That is what we have at West Ham. Zihavi and Silkman and Joorabchian (who we still pay as a transfer consultant) and Sullivan - we are rotten to the core and then some.

The cowardice of the players so poorly performing that they back Grant and before him Zola is scandalous. The lack of focus on them, as a group, has been sadly lacking in the media and from the fans. Who at West Ham could lead another Premier League club onto a football pitch? Who fights for the team (Parker/Green even Noble excluded, but none are leaders)? Who fights for the team off the pitch, Zola and Grant and Roeder have bascially accepted and commended every poor decision against West Ham? Where are the people within the club who will fight for West Ham? They don't exist, they are nowhere to be found....cowards each and every one of them to a man!

That is the only togetherness at West Ham, the cowering cowardice hiding in the corner hoping no-one points the spotlight on them. Every one of them a disgrace and a humiliating embarassment to the people of East London and beyond; the fans, the only people willing to fight for a club which won't even raise it's doots.

Shame on the lot of them.

The sham sympathy for Grant must stop as well. What is there to pity? He was negotiating a £5 million pay off over the weekend and has vowed not to walk away in order to force a humiliating pay day for all concerned. He is a tribute to the incompetence of the total management at West Ham. Abramovic has a Director of Football spot already lined for his useless friend, after all it was Abramovic who unleashed Grant's incompetence on us, so he must surely owe his pal something.

FWIW - both Sullivan and Grant, through intermediaries, are playing the media at the moment. Grant was negotiating his pay-off at one stage, and facilitated the leak of the O'Neill story to get back at Brady vis the staff cuts of auxillary staff etc. Sullivan, is also implicated as a boardroom mole - but his role seems to be reactionary by letting some sources know how far down the line they had went with O'Neill - and some journalists swear a player ( I suspect Keane) told them O'Neill taking over as manager was the reason he was going to West Ham.

Keeping Grant is not an option - any money he is given to buy players will be a travesty - the board do not trust him as manager and he accnot trusted to sign players, as he cannot judge a footballer, nor can Silkman or Sullivan, or Gold or Brady for that matter. He obviously cannot motivate the players who claim to back him.

Can you imagine, these players who played against Arsenal, claimed to back Grant and were willing to fight for him. What would've happened if they didn't claim to back him. A worse scoreline was possible, but a worse performace? I don't think so. The players have given up on Grant and won't say it - instead they use the whole 'boardroom turmoil disrupted our preparation' line.

Bad players always have an excuse.

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Win ratio of West Ham managers in the Premier League:

Alan Pardew (39%)

Alan Curbishley (37%)

Harry Redknapp (35%)

Glenn Roeder (32%)

Billy Bonds (31%)

Gianfranco Zola (28%)

Avram Grant (17%)

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Guest Gary Loughran

Win ratio of West Ham managers in the Premier League:

Alan Pardew (39%)

Alan Curbishley (37%)

Harry Redknapp (35%)

Glenn Roeder (32%)

Billy Bonds (31%)

Gianfranco Zola (28%)

Avram Grant (17%)

Oy vey! We have retained Grant and it is likely we will not back him substantially in the transfer market. The board, which is split Sullivan and Brady versus Gold and Grant (shock, horror) at the moment, seem resigned to relegation. At least to the extent they will not invest in Grant. So with 4-5 teams being in the relegation mix - it could well be some huge slice of fortune which saves us. Acumen and strategy won't!

The saddest part of all is the team, Grant and their collective incompetency are all off the hook. Shame on the fans who now cheer Grant, for the sake of cheering Grant. On the hook, via the media, are the board and for their collective failure to get O'Neill which was the right move and who, it must be said, only rejected the job after seeing the abject failure of the team against Arsenal. The furore over the leak was merely a good excuse, as unwise as it was.

Whether or not Brady texted senior players asking them to speak out about Grant needs answered as much as Grant needs sacked.

Could it be that West Ham hope to prove the leaks came from Grant. The recent statement said they would find and remove the mole from West Ham, I assume that would be removed without compensation as well. If the mole was Grant...?

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Could it be that West Ham hope to prove the leaks came from Grant. The recent statement said they would find and remove the mole from West Ham, I assume that would be removed without compensation as well. If the mole was Grant...?

I imagine the mole was Barry Silkman, Grant's agent. Did you read this interesting article by Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1348409/MARTIN-SAMUEL-Darren-Bent-24m-mad-fun-common-sense.html

Silkman's sway is steering unhappy Hammers closer to the abyss West Ham United issued a statement on Tuesday to say Avram Grant would be staying on as their manager. They need not have bothered, it had already been taken care of.

Barry Silkman, agent, football consultant and noted greyhound trainer, had broken the news exclusively on At The Races the day before. 'I had a call off David and I think Avram will be there for a long time,' Silkman said. 'We'll be all right. We're trying to bring in a striker at the moment - I won't say who it is in case everyone jumps on it.'

Oh yes, the model of discretion is Barry, reporting live from Plumpton, where his Three Honest Men Partnership had a winner in the first with Not Till Monday. His Grant announcement would certainly have come as a surprise to David Gold, who considers public statements to be part of his remit at West Ham.

Gold is not the David mentioned in Silkman's brief address, though, because that is the other owner David Sullivan, who sees player recruitment as one of his duties. And who does he have to help him? Why, Silkman, of course.

Silkman is Grant's agent, he helped get Wayne Bridge in on just under £90,000 per week - and rising if West Ham stay up - he aided in the signing of Winston Reid and the ongoing disposal of Valon Behrami.

Indeed, he has been involved in a significant percentage of the transfer deals at West Ham since Sullivan took charge. Hence his certainty that 'we'll' be all right. Well, someone will anyway.

Everything that is wrong with West Ham is encapsulated in that little freeze frame: an agent revealing the business of the club at a racecourse on a betting channel. Silkman's influence at Upton Park is the dirty little secret in all this.

It is never healthy when one advisor strongly holds sway over transfer dealings and West Ham's record in the market of late is hardly the best advertisement for Sullivan's methods, or Silkman's services.

Bolton Wanderers and former manager Sam Allardyce were said to have had a particularly close relationship with another agent, Mark Curtis, but considering Bolton's potential at the time, Allardyce's transfer work was considered little short of miraculous: a word that could be associated with West Ham only in reference to Reid's £4million transfer fee, or Bridge's wages.

The mystery striker hinted at following the running of the Rana Risk Management Novices' Hurdle is most likely Demba Ba of Hoffenheim and Senegal, who is back on the market having failed a medical at Stoke City. One might think an injured African forward - after Benni McCarthy and Frederic Piquionne, who missed the Arsenal game with toothache - is the one market West Ham appear to have cornered of late, but we shall see.

In the meantime, Karren Brady, the West Ham vice-chairman, has been the lightning rod for much of the criticism following the bungled appointment of Martin O'Neill and it suits football's gentlemen's club for her to be perceived as a meddler. It is highly unlikely, however, that she would go rogue by firing off letters to Grant or courting O'Neill without Gold and Sullivan's approval.

She might also contend that the people who have landed West Ham in their financial predicament, not to mention put them bottom of the table, are exclusively male; but that would make her a spiteful bitch as well as an interfering cow.

Whatever the mistakes of the last week, the reckoning for West Ham will be as finite as an onrushing express train. The black hole in the event of relegation is in excess of £40m but the hope is some losses can be recouped in the transfer market. Even with player sales and cost-cutting measures if the club are relegated it is Gold and Sullivan who will be required to invest £10m each just to stop West Ham falling into administration.

This is the reality and if the unravelling of the O'Neill negotiations was painful, its motivations were wholly understandable. There are very few in football who would not see exchanging O'Neill for Grant as an upgrade, Silkman aside.

And no doubt Barry will be on hand to offer his services in the event of a relegation fire sale once more. He has his uses, obviously. Indeed, Not Till Monday came in at 4-1 and we can only hope the Three Honest Men tipped their pal David the wink: in the current climate it is about the only return on an investment he is likely to get.

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Guest Gary Loughran

Could it be that West Ham hope to prove the leaks came from Grant. The recent statement said they would find and remove the mole from West Ham, I assume that would be removed without compensation as well. If the mole was Grant...?

I imagine the mole was Barry Silkman, Grant's agent. Did you read this interesting article by Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1348409/MARTIN-SAMUEL-Darren-Bent-24m-mad-fun-common-sense.html

Silkman's sway is steering unhappy Hammers closer to the abyss West Ham United issued a statement on Tuesday to say Avram Grant would be staying on as their manager. They need not have bothered, it had already been taken care of.

Barry Silkman, agent, football consultant and noted greyhound trainer, had broken the news exclusively on At The Races the day before. 'I had a call off David and I think Avram will be there for a long time,' Silkman said. 'We'll be all right. We're trying to bring in a striker at the moment - I won't say who it is in case everyone jumps on it.'

Oh yes, the model of discretion is Barry, reporting live from Plumpton, where his Three Honest Men Partnership had a winner in the first with Not Till Monday. His Grant announcement would certainly have come as a surprise to David Gold, who considers public statements to be part of his remit at West Ham.

Gold is not the David mentioned in Silkman's brief address, though, because that is the other owner David Sullivan, who sees player recruitment as one of his duties. And who does he have to help him? Why, Silkman, of course.

Silkman is Grant's agent, he helped get Wayne Bridge in on just under £90,000 per week - and rising if West Ham stay up - he aided in the signing of Winston Reid and the ongoing disposal of Valon Behrami.

Indeed, he has been involved in a significant percentage of the transfer deals at West Ham since Sullivan took charge. Hence his certainty that 'we'll' be all right. Well, someone will anyway.

Everything that is wrong with West Ham is encapsulated in that little freeze frame: an agent revealing the business of the club at a racecourse on a betting channel. Silkman's influence at Upton Park is the dirty little secret in all this.

It is never healthy when one advisor strongly holds sway over transfer dealings and West Ham's record in the market of late is hardly the best advertisement for Sullivan's methods, or Silkman's services.

Bolton Wanderers and former manager Sam Allardyce were said to have had a particularly close relationship with another agent, Mark Curtis, but considering Bolton's potential at the time, Allardyce's transfer work was considered little short of miraculous: a word that could be associated with West Ham only in reference to Reid's £4million transfer fee, or Bridge's wages.

The mystery striker hinted at following the running of the Rana Risk Management Novices' Hurdle is most likely Demba Ba of Hoffenheim and Senegal, who is back on the market having failed a medical at Stoke City. One might think an injured African forward - after Benni McCarthy and Frederic Piquionne, who missed the Arsenal game with toothache - is the one market West Ham appear to have cornered of late, but we shall see.

In the meantime, Karren Brady, the West Ham vice-chairman, has been the lightning rod for much of the criticism following the bungled appointment of Martin O'Neill and it suits football's gentlemen's club for her to be perceived as a meddler. It is highly unlikely, however, that she would go rogue by firing off letters to Grant or courting O'Neill without Gold and Sullivan's approval.

She might also contend that the people who have landed West Ham in their financial predicament, not to mention put them bottom of the table, are exclusively male; but that would make her a spiteful bitch as well as an interfering cow.

Whatever the mistakes of the last week, the reckoning for West Ham will be as finite as an onrushing express train. The black hole in the event of relegation is in excess of £40m but the hope is some losses can be recouped in the transfer market. Even with player sales and cost-cutting measures if the club are relegated it is Gold and Sullivan who will be required to invest £10m each just to stop West Ham falling into administration.

This is the reality and if the unravelling of the O'Neill negotiations was painful, its motivations were wholly understandable. There are very few in football who would not see exchanging O'Neill for Grant as an upgrade, Silkman aside.

And no doubt Barry will be on hand to offer his services in the event of a relegation fire sale once more. He has his uses, obviously. Indeed, Not Till Monday came in at 4-1 and we can only hope the Three Honest Men tipped their pal David the wink: in the current climate it is about the only return on an investment he is likely to get.

Well at least someone is taking the rotten core of West Ham on in the media. That is the tip of the ice berg with Silkman, he is clearly, nearly universally reviled - unfortunately you have to deal with agents though. I heavily edited and re-edited my Silkman references prior to posting as he is the kind of pond life who would pursue, not merely threaten, legal action.

Still, Grant gets away scot free (which is more than he'll take from us when he does go). As I said earlier, he facilitated the leaks - was his agent the conduit, who knows? Would O'Neilll have allowed Silkman to arrange his deals? Would O'Neill have allowed Sullivan to arrange his deals through Silkman? or would O'Neill have wanted the final and only say in transfer dealings?

If, as I strongly suspect, West Ham is a money making vehicle for the current owners (and why shouldn't any business be?)then one can only imagine that securing the Olympic stadium in 18 months and selling Upton park for a tasty profit might be the last act they perform at West Ham. Whether we are a premierhsip, championship or league 1 club Upton Parks' value will remain undiminished.

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