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Grading Every Signing of the Sullivan/Gold era: Part 1

2009-10: A comedy of errors

West Ham United v Wigan Athletic - Premier League Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images

Since they purchased the club in 2010, David Gold and David Sullivan have been controversial figures at West Ham. While increased spending has undoubtedly brought great moments, their heavy handed involvement in the clubs transfer strategy has brought in a number of flops.

In this series, I am going to lay out all the transfer activity in the Sullivan and Gold era. The good, the bad, and the forgettable.

It all began in January 2010, when an inexplicable rush to replace West Ham’s perfectly functional forward line brought in three new strikers.

Winter 2010

Benni McCarthy, £2,200,000 from Blackburn Rovers

MK Dons v West Ham United
Benni McCarthy
Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Appearances: 13

Goals: 0

Assists: 0

What a wonderful way to start this project off. Frankly, I’d forgotten about the catastrophe that was McCarthy’s transfer. The South African legend had proved himself to be a strong premier league striker with Blackburn, scoring 52 goals in 140 games. However, in the first half of the 2009/10 season, he fell badly off the pace, scoring only 1 goal in 14 Premier League games.

It was a signing that, entirely predictably, turned into a disaster for both sides. McCarthey made two Premier League starts in his time with the club, and in 2011, West Ham payed him £1.5 million to terminate his contract early.

The verdict: Only West Ham could lose £3 million pounds on a two million signing. An unmitigated disaster for all involved.

Grade: F

Mido, Loan from Middlesbrough

Appearances: 9

Goals: 0

Assists: 0

Burnley v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Mido, a forward who at one point starred alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic, was undoubtedly a recovery project by the time he reached West Ham. One good season with Tottenham, and a couple of decent ones in between made the David’s believe that his signing was a risk worth taking. As it turned out, Mido rarely played, and never performed.

The verdict: Loan signings are inherently low risk, but this one was still a waste of everyone's time.

Grade: D+

Ilan, Free transfer from Saint-Etienne

Appearances: 11

Goals: 4

Assists: 0

Everton v West Ham United - Premier League
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

A streaky Brazilian player who was once one of the most exciting prospects on the soccer stage, Ilan left Saint-Etienne after a relatively successful time crumbled into a mutually damaging problem. Still, having managed a 14 goal season in 2008, Ilan was a low risk, high reward option.

Ilan managed more success than any other signings, scoring 4 goals in 11 games.

The Verdict: The third striker signed in the January window, Ilan deserves a better grade by virtue of being slightly less horrible than everyone around him.

Grade: C-


There’s a reason Gold and Sullivan have garnered such a horrible reputation. Three abysmal wastes of money, signed in a position where reinforcements weren’t needed. The catastrophe can be summed up thusly: in a years time, not one of these players would remain with the club.

Grade: F