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West Ham and what they stand for has changed

01 Jun 2011 12:32:32

West Ham and what they stand for has changed

ShareKarren Brady preached recently about respecting West Ham's spirit and getting back to the club's traditional way of doing things. Then the vice-chairman and her bosses, David Gold and David Sullivan, made Sam Allardyce the new manager. Words and deeds at Upton Park seldom tally these days. The club are run by people who came in vowing to continue their 'proud' record of standing by their managers, before sacking two in 16 months. The times are changing: West Ham owners David Gold (left) and David Sullivan (right) with vice-chairman Karren Brady (centre) outside the Olympic Stadium     More from Leo Spall... Leo's London: Abramovich is sucking the identity out of Chelsea25/05/11 Leo's London: Capital clubs should be worried as Manchester City march on18/05/11 Leo's London: Would the real Neil Warnock please stand up?12/05/11 Leo's London: Sullivan's stay away was latest in a long line of blunders04/05/11 Leo's London: Arsenal cannot even contemplate letting Fabregas leave28/04/11 Leo's London: Nasri should put Gallas row in the past for sake of title push20/04/11 Leo's London: Spurs can keep the feelgood factor if they go down in glory13/04/11 Leo's London: It's time for the real Torres to stand up and deliver 06/04/11 VIEW FULL ARCHIVESo when the man the fans are already calling 'Fat Sam' promises to play a passing game at home and adopt a 'hard-to-beat' approach away, no-one should bet their house on easily being able to identify the difference. But it would be wrong to suggest that the arrival of a manager with a long-ball reputation has smashed the name of a club built on attractive football. West Ham and what they stand for have changed, and it has not just happened. The arrival of Icelandic owners in 2006 ended the club's association of more than a century with the Cearns family and showered the East End with big money dreams. What had been a reasonably consistent club, up and down without great extremes, quiet owners and a reputation for bringing through talent and playing a passing game, came under foreign ownership and the spell of promises of and joining the Champions League elite. Like so many before them, those lofty ambitions were ill-thought through and ended in financial disaster. Enter the Davids, Gold and Sullivan - and another step change. Eggert Magnusson, the former chairman, was no shrinking violet, but the self-proclaimed saviours really like to be seen, heard, and parade their wealth. Exactly what they stand for is not yet clear but the West Ham way has changed and a new trademark will eventually be established. The club are on the verge of leaving the Boleyn Ground, their home since 1904, their famous academy has not produced a player who has made it to the very top since the era of Joe Cole and Michael Carrick and the owners are very loud. Clearly, not all the change is for the better, but that does not mean it was perfect before and the fans seem to accept that. Barren spell: West Ham's academy has faltered since the emergence of Michael Carrick (left) and Joe Cole (right) The messages on fans' forums are split over the arrival of Allardyce. Some have been persuaded by the arrival of a big name, others are ready for anything after the limp, disorganised and passion-less approach of Avram Grant. Promotion back to the Premier League is something they believe Allardyce can deliver and at least he is strong enough to stand up to the two Davids. He has got to be better than mooted alternatives such as David Jones (sacked by Cardiff for failing to take them up again) and Neil Warnock (unpopular after the Carlos Tevez saga) too. But if anyone thinks he is a stop-gap boss to get West Ham promoted before handing back to a pass-master, they can forget it. If Allardyce is successful he could be at Upton Park for some time. The owners will set the tone off the pitch, but he could play a big part in shaping a new West Ham on it. FULHAM BECOMING A FEEDER CLUBIf Mark Hughes leaves Fulham for Aston Villa, the Craven Cottage club will be in danger of becoming a stepping stone for managers. Roy Hodgson went on to a bigger club in Liverpool and Hughes would be following suit if he replaces Gerard Houllier at Villa Park. Stepping stone: Fulham could lose their second manager in two years It is not ideal, with the ambitions of stability, success and continuity of purpose and identity hard to establish with such a turnover. Losing a manager after year in which he has tried to stamp his own style on the club is disruptive and could be costly. But becoming a two-year escalator for ambitious managers could work out if the trend continues.For a club of Fulham's size and spending, becoming a proving ground could be productive. They would attract up and coming bosses or quality managers who have taken a wrong turn, who could enable them to allow them to punch above their weight in the Premier League. But smart choices would have to be made and there needs to be some level of continuity. Hughes has only been at the club for a year and that is not long enough for anyone except him.  Allardyce promises promotion after West Ham confirm Big Sam as new managerAston Villa in the hunt for Fulham boss Hughes as Houllier chases ?5m pay-offAll the latest West Ham news, features and opinionAll the latest Fulham news, features and opinion  Explore more:People: Karren Brady, Neil Warnock, Mark Hughes, David Gold, Sam Allardyce, Joe Cole, Roy Hodgson, Gerard Houllier, Michael Carrick, David Sullivan Places: Cardiff, Liverpool


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