The HamburgHammer Column
When I was a kid, a month or so before Christmas it was a well worked routine for me and my brother to hand in our respective wish lists to our mom, she then promised to pass it on to Santa on the next trip to the post office, but we were also given the strong and sage advice to be realistic in our expectations.
We certainly shouldn’t count on the bearded fellow and his reindeer pals to regard our pieces of paper as legally binding bucket lists to studiously work down, ticking every item on the lists without fail.
And that’s exactly how it panned out after mom had rung that little bell on Christmas Eve, indicating that the presents were ready to be admired before getting unwrapped.
And as sure as West Ham home games begin with a passionate rendition of Bubbles, every year under the Christmas tree us kids were happy to find some bloody nice presents (plus the customary socks, new pyjamas and underwear which we had never specifically asked for but which were apparently deemed absolutely necessary gifts by our parents regardless, they must have fiddled shamelessly with our lists before passing them on I suppose).
My parents were not exactly loaded, to put it mildly, but they always made sure that Christmas was special for us kids, we always ended up with a fair selection of items from our list, but never ever, as a matter of principle, did we get EVERYTHING that was on the list and deep down us kids knew the score. Which was perfectly fine and acceptable.
It still was worth it though, compiling a decent wish list. An ambitious one at that, with the odd pie in the sky entry to boot. You never know…
The same very much applies to transfer windows at West Ham. By all means, as a fanbase and as manager, we need to be realistic, but we can still aim high and dare to dream!
Ask and you may receive!
Maybe, every once in a while, the stars and planets will align, you could punch above your weight and still win occasionally, you may be quicker than other clubs for once, right place, right time – or the player may just be enticed into choosing the club after a brilliant interview with the gaffer, outlining his irresistible plans and footballing philosophy at West Ham. Still, it might not be enough. Bigger clubs, offering more money and European/CL football, you know the story.
Take Maxi Gomez. Players with a current asking price of 40 million quid upwards do have a certain quality. Which means other clubs, bigger clubs than us, will have him on their radar too and spending that kind of money is pretty much commonplace for them, and not a big deal, unlike for us.
If I was still in the habit of writing wish lists for Christmas (or West Ham), you can bet your house, your garden shed and your cat on me putting Maxi Gomez pretty high up on that list right now. But I’d be realistic enough to also put some alternative names on the list, just in case.
And I am convinced that Manuel Pellegrini and Mario Husillos have done and are still doing just that. They will be smart enough to have a plan B, C and possibly D too.
My trust in them at this point is sky high and they probably know they won’t be getting £100 million to spend every summer.
They have shown us last summer how they are able to bring in decent quality players for modest amounts. However, this should be no carte blanche for our board to go down Pennypinch Lane all summer. You still need to spend money in the current market to bring in the kind of players that are going to improve our squad and hopefully the starting XI too.
You can’t take money for a used Ford Fiesta to the showroom, expecting to drive off the premises in a shiny new Ferrari. Or at least a reliable Volvo with all the trimmings.
So, even if you have to miss out on the top names on your list, even the names further down won’t come cheap. That’s par for the course if you’re a Premier League club. We still need to be alert, quick and realistic with our bids in order to be successful.
There are always rival clubs lurking and aiming for the same players and we simply cannot afford to play fancy games with low bids or ridiculous payment terms if we are REALLY interested in signing a player.
Yes, Jordan Hugill could of course be like a new signing for us, but I’d rather we won’t be testing those waters when trying to replace the likes of Carroll, Hernandez and Perez who are all likely to depart in the coming weeks.
Later this week I will make that phone call to the West Ham ticket office, sorting out my e-credits and renewing my season ticket. I will do it in the full knowledge that I have no Scooby at this stage what our team is going to look like come August. I will probably be unimpressed with the players we will have signed by then and maybe even more irritated with the players we may be allowing to leave or sell to the highest bidder. However, from a personal perspective, who we sign or sell can and will not be the clincher why I will be renewing anyway.
It’s just that West Ham are still such a main contributing factor when it comes to planning my trips to London. Yes, it is mainly about meeting friends and mates from the blog, having a jolly good time and also doing things away from football.
But I just cannot imagine not going to a first team game when I’m over while one is scheduled. Time and fixture permitting I will also happily attend a game of our U23s or (hopefully) the West Ham Women’s team, but somehow at this stage I cannot kick the habit of a West Ham matchday when I’m over, despite the stadium and its well established shortcomings as a venue for watching football.
And I still need my fix of attending 2-5 games a season of top level football in person which in my case gets provided by West Ham as I don’t attend either of the two big Hamburg clubs’ games unless I have visitors who are keen to go. So, what are my expectations for West Ham’s summer business ?
Similar to my Christmas wish lists back in the day. Please let us have not just the useful, but boring stuff: The socks, new pyjamas and some bloody new underwear. Give us something to get excited about. The latest Playstation. A new stereo system. Tickets for a Nena concert. Maybe a nice West Ham shirt or jacket. I know getting all those presents at once is unrealistic, but at least give us one or two of them. I promise to truly appreciate and even wear the new pyjamas as well then…:-))
Hamburg football update:
Both top Hamburg clubs were out of the promotion race, so their respective results on the final day of league fixtures were pretty much irrelevant. Still, Hamburg SV beat already relegated Duisburg 3:0 at home – one wishes they had been able to perform like this in the previous weeks – promotion would still have been on or already secured then!
St.Pauli lost 1:2 away at Fuerth – which means that the team from Hamburg’s red light district finish the season in solid midtable, after gunning for promotion, same as HSV, for quite a while earlier in the season.
The Concordia first team finished a highly disappointing season with a 2:0 home win against Sasel on Friday evening. The revolving door will be busy this summer as probably only five players of the current squad will still be wearing the famous red and black shirt of Concordia next season. Loads of new, young and hungry recruits are expected to join in the next few weeks, ready to give the Cordi fans more reason to cheer next season.
The Cordi U23s meanwhile shot themselves in the foot, killing off their promotion hopes for good by losing at home to already promoted Muemmelmannsberg. Better luck next time, lads!
And finally, the Concordia Women’s team didn’t actually play, but got honoured on the pitch prior to kick-off at the first team game on Friday, seeing their amazing promotion season acknowledged by the home crowd, and deservedly so.
If you fancy it, have a butcher’s at the highlights of their promotion clinching game at Rahlstedt (and the ensuing celebration) in the videos below and please do watch out for Cordi’s best player and my personal favourite, Michelle “Mini” Hille, wearing the #7 shirt. And if you happen to understand a bit of German, enjoy the commentary too, delivered in the broadest local Hamburg accent you are ever likely to hear…:-)
Oh, and just in case you spot a portly figure with sunglasses on, wearing a grey hoodie and claret West Ham jacket, during the first two minutes of the longer video, guess who that might be…let me give you a hint:
It’s not Winnie-the-Pooh or the guy from the Go Compare advert…;-))
After the final whistle: