Dear Mr Sullivan,
There was a time when on reaching 100 you got a telegram from the Queen. Those days have gone of course – and, to be fair, Blowing Bubbles probably wouldn’t have got a celebratory note from Her Maj on clocking up our hundredth edition. But the thought has prompted me to drop you a line on behalf of an ever-growing number of frustrated fans with a message of our own.
I’ll warn you now, I’m not writing to congratulate you on all you’ve done for West Ham United since you took over the club 10 years ago. Quite the opposite, in fact.
True, there have been some good times. The play-off final against Blackpool was a great day out. And the last season at the Boleyn Ground was terrific – apart from the fact that it was our last season at the Boleyn Ground. But the times aren’t good now, are they?
Let’s start with what’s happening on the pitch. Quite frankly, the team is a shambles and some of the performances are a disgrace.
If we are relegated, which many of us now fear is inevitable, the Brighton game will be seen as pivotal.
You can’t twice surrender two-goal leads to fellow strugglers and expect to stay in the Premier League. Okay, their equaliser was controversial, but if there had been a seventh goal in that game only one side was going to score it – and it wasn’t us (unless it was another farcical own goal, of course).
What was David Moyes thinking when he took off Michail Antonio and brought on Arthur Masuaku?
Brighton were terrified of Antonio – they were having to sit deep to contain him and offered little threat. As soon as he went off they knew they could happily contain the ponderous Sebastien Haller and pressed much higher – to devastating effect.
If we can comprehend what’s happening from the Billy Bonds Stand, why can’t you see it in the directors’ box?
The reason I’m moaning to you about the manager’s tactics is that you appointed him. We all know Manuel Pellegrini had to go. I know it’s easy to be wise after the event, but you really should have acted before you did. Too many of the squad had simply stopped playing for him. The loss to what was effectively Leicester’s reserve team was a humiliation waiting to happen.
Sacking Pellegrini was the easy (if expensive) bit. Being able to appoint a replacement who would make a difference – and quickly – is what being the successful owner of a football club is all about. Yet again you have failed this test dismally.
Unfortunately, several of the clubs who were below us when Moyes was asked to step in have managed to get it right. Which is why we are now below them and staring the Championship in the face.
Oh, and we won’t be winning the FA Cup again this year, will we? That performance against West Brom was truly one of the most pathetic efforts I’ve witnessed in more than 50 years of supporting West Ham. At one stage loyal supporters were actually laughing at the ineptitude of our own team.
Even Mr Moyes could spot that things weren’t going well and made three substitutions at half-time. Shame he wasn’t able to make 11 changes.
Two of those replaced – Fabian Balbuena and Carlos Sanchez – are serious contenders for the Worst West Ham XI of all time – and that’s not an easy team to get into!
Why did we buy these players in the first place? As for Roberto, words fail me. All I can say is come back Allen McKnight – all is forgiven.
Before you try to pin these signings on the departed Mario Husillos let me remind you that Pellegrini appointed him and you appointed Pellegrini. The buck really does stop with you.
I do know that you have a co-owner, a highly paid vice-chair with her own newspaper column and a son who’s not shy about putting in his four penn’orth but, when all’s said and done, it’s your club.
I’ll be honest with you: many of us wish it wasn’t, and that number appears to be rising fast. Your mate Mr Gold might think that supporters who are protesting at the direction our club is taking are ‘morons’, but he would do well to be careful about which tweets he likes from now on.
These ‘morons’ are the people who believed your promise of ‘the next level’ as the justification for leaving the Boleyn Ground, and they are not happy that the next level appears to be downwards.
As a club we have a huge array of fans – and with them comes a wide range of emotions. Anger; frustration; bewilderment; despair – just have a look at what supporters are posting on social media and you’ll get the general idea.
A word of warning, though: you won’t find much in the way of positivity. Those “GSB Out” logos don’t take much deciphering – but I guess you know what they mean, which is why a guy with the temerity to display the message on his T-shirt has apparently been banned from the ground. A trifle touchy, aren’t we?
Still, with the mainstream media paying more attention to what’s going on in the boardroom than what is happening on the pitch I suppose any owner would be sensitive to criticism. Not sure picking a fight with Sky is such a good idea, though. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, and all that.
It’s all a far cry from those days when you were being hailed as the saviour of the club. Personally, I never bought into that – but there are many knowledgeable observers who reckon West Ham would have gone under if you hadn’t stepped in when the previous Icelandic owners went bust.
At that time, in 2010, the Olympic Stadium was under construction. And you had one eye very much on the future.
Two years later we published the first edition of Blowing Bubbles. It came out just days after the London Summer Games were officially declared closed.
West Ham supporters, still basking in the national glory of the Super Saturday that saw Team GB win an incredible six gold medals, had no idea that the Olympic Stadium in Stratford was going to change their lives as they flicked through that initial copy on their way to watch Villa at Upton Park. But you knew.
One question still haunts us all – and will do for years to come: was moving the right thing to do?
Results inside the new stadium and the match-day experience outside would suggest not. Still, after three years, every home game feels to me as if I’m in someone’s else’s ground.
We’re not going back to Upton Park, we all know that. But the question about whether or not we should have ever left prompts a more pressing one: are you the right person to own West Ham? Again, for me, the answer is no.
I do understand that you face a hefty windfall tax from any sale before 2027, but you don’t really need to worry about money, do you?
Please, Mr Sullivan, do the right thing now. Sell the club. We’ll never get our old home back, but we could at least have new owners.
I’m afraid there’s not really a polite way to say this. But to quote Oliver Cromwell, and one side of those deeply irritating crowd control boards we face on the trudge back to the station after yet another miserable performance in our depressing stadium: “In the name of God, GO!”
* If you feel the same way as Brian Williams you’ll enjoy his two brilliant books, Nearly Reach The Sky and Home From Home. The club shop refuses to stock them, but they are both available in good bookshops and on Amazon.