Wednesday, November 27

Still waiting for the right player at the right price…

West Ham's current search for a striker is starting to resemble the debacle of the 1987-88 season. The full sorry saga is recited in my book Hammers in the Heart, but to summarise, West Ham sold Frank McAvennie and were left with the Invisible Man up front, though we at least had Tony Cottee to play alongside him. For five long months we played Alan Dickens as a ghost striker, a midfielder with all the physical presence of Joey Essex. It was so traumatic for poor Dicko that he ended up as a cabbie.

West Ham's John Lyall tried to buy Kerry Dixon, Mick Harford, John Fashanu, Kevin Drinkell, Colin Clarke, Peter Davenport, Nico Clausen, Lee Chapman and quite possibly Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards. John Lyall even tried Paul Ince, Eamonn Dolan and Paul 'Diego' Hilton up front.

Hammer issued the following Micawber-esque statement: “Mr Lyall does not disguise the fact that we are looking for a striker but stresses there is no immediate panic particularly as the team are playing so well, at the moment. He says: ‘We simply want the right player at the right price. It’s as simple as that… the nice thing is that we are not under any pressure as the team are playing well and winning matches.”

To quote from Hammers in the Heart: "The Kerry Dixon saga was particularly excruciating. Ken Bates refused to let Dixon rejoin Arsenal for fear he might rediscover his goalscoring touch, but had no such worries about the Chelsea striker joining West Ham, immediately agreeing terms, only for the player himself to reject the deal and Lyall to claim that 'you have to be patient when you are pursuing quality.' The Daily Mail duly labelled West Ham 'the lepers of football.' "

Finally, shortly before the transfer deadline, Fulham’s Leroy Rosenoir agreed to sign for West Ham and amazingly scored on his debut as the Hammers just escaped relegation. And now 25 years on, it all seems to be happening again… We've been linked with Jermain Defoe, Shane Long, Demba Ba, Jordan Rhodes, Emmanuel Adebayor, Niklas Bendtner, Everton's Jelavic and just about anyone who has ever scored a goal. Once again, when the window opens, we're waiting for the right player at the right price.

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