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Premier League Betting: What can Del Boy and Rodney achieve at West Ham?

Premier League RSS / / 24 January 2010 / 1

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"The urge to don a Pearly King jacket must have been strong for Cardiff-born Sullivan but in the end he settled for a fetching burgundy velvet number, possibly on loan from fellow jazz mag man Hugh Hefner."

Rock and chips may be back on the menu in East London but could the Hammers still end up looking like fools at the end of the season? Feizal Rahman discusses the future of West Ham United.

The arrival of British benefactors at a Premier League club is a breath of fresh air, though the West Ham locals might have begged to differ as David Sullivan's Rolls Royce chugged along Green Street to Upton Park. As a flashback to an age when every football chairman was a local boy done good, perhaps a DeLorean would have been more appropriate.

Keen to prove each other's East End credentials with evocative spiel at their press conference, Sullivan and partner David Gold stopped short of slashing their wrists and proclaiming: 'Look, we even bleed claret!' The urge to don a Pearly King jacket must have been strong for the Cardiff-born Sullivan but in the end he toned it down with a fetching burgundy velvet number, possibly on loan from fellow jazz mag man Hugh Hefner.

But with their very own Del Boy and Rodney now in charge, West Ham will need every last ounce of the pair's business acumen to ensure they aren't looking like fools at the end of the season ([6.6] to be relegated). The presence of the new owners will bring an immediate sense of stability that should transfer from board level to the pitch - with the future of manager Gianfranco Zola and several key players assured. But having detailed the level of debt left by the Icelandic incumbents, the job for Sullivan and Gold now is to draw up a blueprint for the club's future.

Despite suggesting that only a die-hard fan would be stupid enough to take over the club, Sullivan still came out with the standard rhetoric to appeal to supporters with a vivid imagination. But while grandiose ideas of filling the 2012 Olympic Stadium and reaching the Champions League in seven years may seem pulled straight from a Trotters Independent Traders business plan, the reality is that West Ham aren't so far off realising such dreams.

The long-proposed move to the Olympic Stadium is a credible real option, with alternative uses for the construction sparse. In the end, money talks and the prospect of a Premier League football club effectively paying off the building costs will be too hard for politicians to refuse, athletics track or not. The regeneration of the East End will not be lost on Sullivan and Gold - the area becoming a property hotspot well served by transport links - with any redevelopment of Upton Park sure to be a money-spinner.

But for the moment, the team needs to secure its top-flight status. A look at the squad shows that the assets are there with, significantly, an English backbone in Robert Green, Matthew Upson, Scott Parker and Carlton Cole. The famed academy is still churning out young talents such as Freddie Sears, James Tomkins, Jack Collison, Zavon Hines and Junior Stanislas. So with some experience drafted in to guide the youngsters forward, there's every chance the Hammers will comfortably escape the drop and kick on upwards.

Owner of Group 1 winning racehorse, David Junior, Sullivan clearly has an eye for the equine so it was no surprise he attempted to lure Ruud van Nistelrooy with a £100k a week carrot. But with the former Manchester United striker now off to Hamburg, attentions will instead focus on one of Blackburn's Benni McCarthy or Monaco's Eidur Gudjohnsen, neither of who has played much this season for their respective clubs. Either would, however, bring established and proven quality to a youthful squad.

While the record of the two Davids at Birmingham City wasn't spectacular, they laid the foundations for the club to be in the position it is now - eighth in the table, only five points off a Champions League place ([48.0] to finish in the top four). Cursed by misfortune and mismanagement under the last regime, Zola and his players will now have the opportunity to develop into a side capable of competing in the long-term with the likes of Aston Villa, Everton, Tottenham and perhaps even Manchester City. Taking on the debt was a brave move by the new chairmen but they know they are onto a winner. As Del Boy himself would have said, "He who dares..."

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  1. hayden | 25 January 2010

    A very good article.