West Ham United’s Director of Football, David Sullivan, had an interview earlier today with talkSPORT. While some supporters aren’t huge fans of talkSPORT, this was an atypically cheery interview, and Sullivan was more talkative and transparent than the supporters have seen in quite a while. Seems that some class signings have lifted a bit of weight off of the usually grim-faced man, and we enjoyed transposing this interview..
Asked on the Hernandez signing, Sullivan had this to say:
“[He] is potentially the best player to ever come to the club. [He is the] best proven goalscorer we’ve signed since we’ve owned the club, and he’s the most lovely, lovely person”
TalkSPORT host Jim White commented on the signings that the club has made in this window, to which Sullivan responded:
“People say ‘why aren’t you signing anybody? Why aren’t you doing this?’ ...It’s a difficult one, you know, because we’re not a bottomless pit. We have to balance the books; we still have £100m in debt; but we’re trying to find the best value we can for the club. Whether they turn out good buys — only time will tell”
Jim immediately turned this answer into a question about the dreaded Frenchman-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named:
Jim: “You stressed there that Hernandez is a truly decent guy, does that come into the equation all the more after your experience with Dimitri Payet?”
David: “Well I think we knew Dimitri was flawed and that’s why we got him for .... £10.5m, which was a fantastic buy, but we knew we bought a flawed individual. We knew it was an individual who could well go on strike — he’d done it all before — and that’s why he never really reached his full potential as a player, and why big clubs steered clear of him.
“But I’ve got to say [Dimitri] was a fantastic servant for the club. [He] gave us 18 wonderful months, particularly the first twelve months. We didn’t want to sell him, but we got two and a half times what we paid for him, and you’ve just got to say ‘it’s good business.’
“With a club like West Ham sometimes we have to sell. We wouldn’t have sold [Dimitri] unless we had to sell him. We had meeting after meeting with him. He wanted out, the manager wanted him out ... we didn’t want an unhappy camp.
“I would have made him stick it out for six months, personally, and given him a hard time, but if the manager says it’s upsetting the whole camp you have to support the manager.”
Considering how Sullivan has been known to throw Slaven under the bus, this was a good answer to hear. Like we said earlier: transparency. This interview could be Sullivan making a good image for himself — which he’s a master at — but this all felt genuine. He gave us a look behind closed doors and commended this great squad that he and the board have been building, as well as sticking up for his manager.
Jim White took the conversation in another direction and then asked David why he made the switch from buying not-so-great players last window to the proven English players he’s been working on in this window.
Jim: “Do you think there was more pressure on you in this transfer window [compared to last]?”
David: “It was a lot of pressure ... a couple of the players we signed last year I think will come really good for the club. I think Arthur Masuaku will come good. I think Edimilson Fernandes will come good. They’re both players that cost about £5m each and I think that they’ll turn out to be very good buys for the club.
“But the strikers [last window] — we signed two strikers on paper -- they were strikers on loans with options because we had a doubt about them. It was beyond our belief how ... not to say ‘bad’ they both were. Calleri worked his socks off but couldn’t score, and Simone Zaza looked completely disinterested.
“This is why we opted this year to try and sign players proven in England or, really, top players, but we couldn’t have a bad window like last one.
“We signed a few young ones but nothing really good came off ... Except we’ve got two for the future who I think will be very good players, which is Arthur and Edimilson both of who I think will be very good players in due course.”
Jim then asked the question that a lot of folks are wondering.
Jim: “Is Bilic the man who can steer you into the top 7?”
David: “I think you need a bit of luck with injuries and we’ve had no luck with injuries. At the moment Mr. Diafra Sakho is 100% good and that will make a huge difference in the season. The manager is a very good manager but he needs a bit of luck with injuries, a bit of luck with referee decisions ... it’s very tough to get into that top 7. Everton have spent a fortune. and the Top Four have really spent — you know, Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United are really spending huge money.”
Would like to note that this isn’t a typo. We think Sullivan left someone out of the top four on purpose. Wink wink Tottenham Hotspur.
David continued “We have the Man United manager building us up because I think he wants some banter and a cup of tea on our first day saying we’re going to win the title and so on ... And after Leicester City it’s possible.
“Supporters are, by nature, cautious, but we start the season with three trophies in mind and the ambition is to win those three trophies. Now, I know it’s very, very unlikely we’ll do that and any one of them would please the board, but you have to think you can win anything — and on our day we can beat anyone. We beat Tottenham last season, who I think won thirteen games in a row minus their defeat to us.”
David then added, “I’d certainly love to go to Wembley Stadium and win a cup.”
The chairman also found some time to snipe at the various drawing systems for cups, as West Ham haven’t had much luck with that either.
David: “See, last year in the League Cup, we beat Chelsea at home and then we got Man United away in the next round. Well, you’re not going to win anything with draws like that ... and then we get Man City in the third round of the FA Cup. Arsenal gets sort of ... non-league teams in Lincoln.
Jim: “Well that’s the luck of the draw, David. When it comes down to it, David —
David: “Well, they’re very lucky with the draw then aren’t they. Arsenal seems to have more home or weekend away draws ... they get more home draws than any team I’ve ever seen! We are due an easy, easy cup draw this season.”
Then Jim asked another question that’s been buzzing through a lot of minds:
Jim: “Would you consider Jack Wilshere?”
David: “All I will say is midfield is not a position we’re looking for — we’ve got very good midfielders at the club ... but never say never.”