The biblical adage that “…money is the root of all evil” seems to be the boogeyman within the corridors of the East London club, West Ham. As far as heavy investments in players are concerned, the Hammers have never been shy away from taking that responsibility considering their relatively modest budget they have had over the years. Unfortunately the Hay they make in preparation towards a shining season has consistently been painfully thwarted by torrential rain fall.
Being in the position of a West Ham fan and knowing your club’s history in big money transfers, your optimism will always be stained by the injury-curse or total flop of your most priced asset.
Rolling back the tape to August 2006, the young and talented English striker, Dean Ashton, who by then had already completed a £7.25 million move from Norwich in January broke his ankle in training session while on an international duty for England against Greece, and missed the whole of the 2006/2007 season. Dean Ashton prior to his move to Norwich played for Crewe Alexandra, where he made a total league appearance of 169 and registered 61 league goals within the period of 2000-05. His efforts never went unnoticed, with Norwich becoming a subsequent beneficiary of his exploits after sanctioning a £3 million club record transfer in January 2005.
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Ashton in his sole season at Carrow Road paid dividends, where he registered 17 goals in 44 appearances. Shortly before his career went down south, Norwich accepted a bid from the Hammers in January 2005. Ashton kicked off his debut season in an impressive 2-1 win over Arsenal. Just when the young lad began turning doubters into optimists, he suffered an injury which forced him out for a year. The toll the injury took on his career forced him into an early retirement in 2009 at the age of 26, with 46 league appearance, scoring 15 goals for West Ham. Unlucky!
Just a year after Ashton’s long injury lay off, West Ham quickly tried to tidy up the situation by coughing up a club record fee of £7.5 million on 10 July 2007, for the services of Craig Bellamy. After succumbing to a 2-0 defeat on his debut against Manchester City, he quickly turned the script by registering his first two goals in a capital one cup against Bristol Rovers. Bellamy’s maiden season saw him spend more time with the doctors than in his opponent’s 18 yard box. His injury woes took a full blow in February 2008 where the club doctors ruled him out for the season. He however did not allow an injury plagued period to keep his career far from reach. He returned against Blackburn Rovers and scored his first goal in 6 months in the 2008/09 season.
His spirit of determination propelled him into putting up a string of fine performances after his return, prompting scouts to redirect their trajectory towards East London, thus, linking him to a host of clubs including Manchester City and Tottenham. The Arabian revolution at East Lands where Mark Hughes, the then Manager, led a mass recruitment of top quality players, eventually came knocking with an offer too tempting to turn down after having their first two bids hitting the rocks. Bellamy left for almost twice the money West Ham bought him for, on a £ 14million fee to Manchester City in 2009. Craig Bellamy left with a record of just 7 goals in 24 league appearances for West Ham. Unimpressive!
3 years later, West Ham tried their luck again, this time in a reported £10.75 million club record transfer deal of Matt Jarvis from Wolverhampton Wanderers in August 2012. The winger’s 4 year spell at the club yielded 78 appearances and 4 goals. Jarvis in the beginning hit the road running with an impressive record of attempting 171 crosses in open play with 42 of them being successful. This stood out to be the highest in the 2012/13 Premier League season. It looked very promising in the beginning until his career, in an illustrative manner, looked like water spiralling through the outlet of a sink.
To the utter dismay of the Management of West Ham, they quickly sort for a redress since their ambitions could not find common grounds. He was loaned out to Norwich in 2015. In the January transfer window in 2016, Norwich did what most West Ham fans will label a favour, by signing him on a permanent basis for just £2.5m. Financial Loss!
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The Hammers, in their unrelenting pursuit of that star signing whose performance would resonate into the spines and marrows of the East London faithful’s took a silly twist. They were caught in the web of Andy Carroll’s deceptive persona as a world class striker by sanctioning a club record fee of £15 million on 19 June 2013 in a 6 year contract. Prior, to the deal, West Ham bailed out Liverpool by offering their flop a loan deal for the 2012-13 season, where they paid a £2 million loan agreement fee as well as his Liverpool’s weekly wage of £80,000!. Carroll during his loan stint registered 7 goals in 24 appearances. To the surprise of pundits and football connoisseurs, the deal was made permanent after that season.
After sustaining a heel injury in the final hours of the 2012-13 season, Carroll made his first appearance after the permanent deal in January 2014 as a substitute. After picking up a man of the match award from sky sports in their 2-1 win over Sunderland, Carroll finished the 2013-2014 season with 2 goals in 18 apps. Carroll had a relapse of the previous season’s situation, which saw him begin his 2014-15 season in November after a pre-season injury in New Zealand. In February 2015, he again sustained a Ligament tear which saw him out of the season with 14 apps and 5 goals.
Carroll returned into the 2015-2016 season this time much earlier in September and it took him 9 months to register his first goal of the season to defeat Chelsea in a 2-1 game at Upton Park. After that fluke, Carroll went into hiding again only to emerge on December 7 with an announcement of a knee injury he sustained during training which saw him out for several weeks.
Carroll in an attempt to fire a statement at Liverpool at what they were missing in a trademark fashion scored a header in their 2-0 win over the Scousers on January 2nd. The 2016-17 season presents Carroll with yet another opportunity to silence his critics as he is yet to record his first goal of the season.
The latest casualty of this unending predicament is Andre Dede Ayew. The Ghanaian sensation came in at a club record fee of £20 million and in his first crucial game against Chelsea he sustained a thigh injury in which a surgery will see him out for 4 months. My question to the world is, Will Ayew return stronger than ever to break the jinx or this would just be another hefty price West Ham will eventually have to pay once again…
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By: Dawuda Abdul-Waris