Wednesday, 13 May 2009
New Contracts for Di Michele & Tristan
Is Zola really thinking of giving Tristan and Di Michele another year?
I was bitterly disappointed when I first read that Zola was considering giving them another year at West Ham. I know they have played more than any of us expected but are they what we need to finish top six next season? I certainly don't think they are and I am sure most hammers would agree. We know Zola has a transfer budget so why would he be thinking of keeping them? Is he just being clever and motivating them to keep going at a time when we need them, or is our budget that small?
Zola was quoted in the media saying the following – "It looks very well for the club, we might have the possibility of buying players and also to be in a situation where we can really look forward positively," he said. "It is too early to say which players because a lot will depend on players developing and it will depend whether we achieve a European spot, that will give us a different perspective for next year." Zola feels any changes will bring stability. "Something is happening, all I know is that it will be of benefit for the club because we will have stability for two or three years," Zola said.
Now that leaves the door ajar on several counts. Firstly, I interpret this as Zola putting as positive a front on it as he can. We probably have a small budget for new players (plural) but if we qualify for Europa Cup we can expect to earn more revenue so have a bigger budget. I suppose the reverse of that is, if we qualify for Europa Cup and sign players but get knocked out in early rounds, we then have to sell!
Secondly, he said “...a lot depends on players developing...” I hope that is an encouragement to the youngsters to take their opportunities and stop Zola buying a replacement for their position. Zola also referred to Ashton returning fit next season and it sounds as though he is looking forward to seeing him in the claret and blue. We are continually linked with young Italian strikers but it all depends on just how much Zola has for a budget, who we have ambitions to buy and who we can afford to sell without weakening the squad.
Any club needs at least four strikers. A club in the Europa League, needs at least five. There's Cole and Ashton but both play the traditional centre forward role and have yet to show that they can play together. We can be sure Zola wants the kind of second striker that he was and that is why I believe he perseveres with Di Michele. Then we have Sears - not ready yet and needing a loan period a division down. Savio – better midfielder but also not ready yet. Dyer – always injured and could play the link up role if he can shake off his niggling injuries. Junior Stanislas is another that I feel could play that role but they are both really midfielders.
To be certain of top 6 next season we need at least one more striker of the Bellamy/Zola type. If the lack of a budget means we have to rely on Tristan and Di Michele for another year then we will know that the ambitions of our club are not what we all hope they are! I would love to see Tevez back here and if we could get the funds together I am sure Tevez would return, especially if we have the Europa League to play in. It seems a forlorn hope that we can raise any more than a smile though, as other clubs beat a path to his door.
Against the weaker opposition of Europa Cup, should we qualify, we need to think in terms of maybe using the younger players and reserves knocking at the first team door and our first choice strikers sitting on the bench ready to come on should we need a goal or two? Playing two 32/33 year old 'has beens' even in qualifying matches seems to me an absolutely pointless exercise. The pair of them have shown that they are completely outclassed in the Premiership and there is little or no point in signing players like that again unless we do not have a budget worthy of the name.
Finally, the third point I picked up on is the reference to "Something is happening, all I know is that it will be of benefit for the club because we will have stability for two or three years." The media have seized on that as confirmation that we are being taken over by the banks that BG owes money to. Those banks, led by Straumur, have been widely reported in the media to want to keep us for 3 years before selling up which I take as posturing. It does mean that we do not have a buyer as such, and the banks that BG owes millions to for buying and investing in West Ham, are seizing us back to make us an asset on their books instead of the loss we represent for them at present. Whether that is a good thing or not remains to be seen because bankers are bankers...
I have said in an earlier article that the banks will probably try to load all of BG's debts directly onto West Ham in the same way as the Glazers did at Manchester United and Gillet and Hicks did at Liverpool. It is not as far fetched as some would have you believe as, BG probably did that indirectly anyway. BG used his holding company Hansa, to borrow £85m from Straumur, the Icelandic investment bank now leading the 'take-over'. The interesting side issue is that this loss has temporarily pushed Straumur into administration mainly due to that £85m becoming a bad debt on their books.
BG then borrowed extra money from the other banks, to enable him to invest another £30.5m in new shares in West Ham during September and December 2007. That means BG's total investment in West Ham was £115.5m and virtually all of it was borrowed. Hansa went bust owing £230m just a few months later so £115.5m of that debt plus the accumulating interest, relates directly to BG's purchase and investment in West Ham. The rest of the debts of Hansa were mostly owed to BG or his other bankrupted companies interestingly.
Consider then just how was BG planning to repay those £115.5m loans from the banks then bearing in mind BG and his companies were owed another £115m? His holding company Hansa, had no income source, except from returns from the investments they made. There is only one possible explanation. West Ham was intended to pay Hansa enough money to enable Hansa to meet the loan repayments. It is just the same at Liverpool FC where the club is paying for Gillet and Hick's repayments for the money they borrowed to buy Liverpool. The same is true at Man United where the club is doing the same for the Glazers to buy them!
Clearly BG's company Hansa, couldn't make their repayments presumably because of Eggy's spending spree stopping us paying Hansa what we were supposed to pay? Possibly by then BG realised that Hansa and his other companies were doomed and he concentrated on trying to hold onto West Ham as the only potential source of income for him as its salaried Chairman? I don't see him lining up at the dole office somehow, so maybe that was his forlorn hope.
It seems then that the banks are about to take us off BG's hands to enable them to directly saddle the club with around £125m of extra debt (including interest) which should enable Straumur to come out of their own administration! If Straumur is indeed heading a consortium of banks as our new owner, then we will have to remain self-financing and repay BG's debts or at least interest on around £125m. That means there will be no additional investments into the team or ground unless it comes out of our profits. We may well have some “stability” but our profits will not be great as we will be paying for BG's follies for years to come. Probably as much as £20m a year or more will come off of potential transfer funds from loan repayments, fines and deferred compensations. Is this the reason Zola is considering another year of Di Michele and Tristan? I certainly hope not!
Zola and Clarke have just signed contracts to 2013 and a lot of fans have speculated that they must have received assurances about the club's finances to have signed such long-term contracts but we need to keep that in perspective. If someone offered you a 4-years contract at £1.6m a year you wouldn't need a lot of assurances to sign especially if you are enjoying the job which I have no doubt he does. Zola is an honourable person and I'm not suggesting he is anything like those cynical professional footballers (like Bellamy) or managers (like Harry Bagpuss) but I think in those circumstances, any one of us would take the £6.4m contract whatever the assurances are! Perhaps Zola believes he is a good enough manager to do well next season with a limited transfer budget? He is good but, £30m-£40m could make him even better.
Big transfer budgets are not always the answer but it's nice to get involved in the speculation and excitement and it helps sell season tickets in the way Tristan and Di Michele never could. Mind you, Tevez and Mascherano proved that star buys don't always work out especially early on at a new club. Bellamy, Upson, Dyer, Parker, Ashton and Neill were all signings that took time to see their benefits as players after we signed them. Our record signing Savio has yet to impress but on the other hand, Behrami and Ilunga at least hit the ground running. And after investing 8 or 9 months in Di Michele and Tristan (just getting up to fitness in Tristan's case) surely Zola knows that there are better loans out there than these two washed up has beens?
If we are to progress it mainly has to come from the players already here and development of our youth which is exactly what Duxbury and Zola have been saying for ages. It's what West Ham has always done actually, except maybe this time, we won't have to sell them on unless we overspend. That is fine up to a point and we have reached that point where another senior striker is needed. Dyer, Gabbidon, Behrami and Ashton will hopefully improve the squad next season and Collison, Noble, Tomkins and Stanislas will all be a year older and hopefully better players for their experiences. Savio and Sears clearly are not yet ready and need another year or so before they can truly be counted as first team squad players for a top six team so we definitely need to spend. If we don't spend, the players, senior and junior, are likely to lose faith and we could struggle next season which definitely would not help us find new owners!
As I said earlier, we are at an exciting point we have not been at for many a long year. We are just a Tevez/Zola type player away from being a superb team. Of course there are other issues like should we keep Kovac (no) and what to do with Faubert and Davenport when they return and Gabbidon and Ashton when fit again? These are side issues though in my opinion. I really believe that a major signing of a mobile second striker that can play off either Ashton or Cole is a major priority. As much as we all feel we have progressed this season it really is only a matter of style. We actually have exactly the same number of points that we had at this stage last season!
If we cannot afford a new striker then we are extremely lucky to keep Zola and Clarke. Remember just a year ago Zola was working with the cream of Italy's young players and Clarke was working with a quality squad of 20+ internationals at Chelsea. It must test their patience to have to work with Tristan and Di Michele every week and still keep smiling. Don't put yourself through that again on our account guys. They are the only management team that I know of, since Clough and Taylor's days, that can turn water into wine but Di Michele and Tristan are a step too far for even their magical coaching skills. Get rid please!
Posted by Hammersfan at 17:29