Tony Cottee: It has been a terrible season and we must get things right next year

This has definitely been one of the worst seasons in the history of West Ham and it seems like throughout the campaign we went from one problem to another,"" says Tony Cottee

This has definitely been one of the worst seasons in the history of West Ham and it seems like throughout the campaign we went from one problem to another.

Some were self-inflicted, while others would have been hard to avoid, but when you look back at the last nine months the only real saving grace is that the club will be in the top flight next year.

From what happened with the fans in the Millwall game, to Dean Ashton's retirement and the incident with Callum Davenport, to of course the finances, the club deserve a lot of credit for staying up, even it was because there were three extremely poor teams that finished below us.

If you go back to the start of the season, there were no funds to buy players and in fact we had to sell James Collins to pay for the signing of Alessandro Diamanti.

I feel Collins was at the time our best defender and I did say that it was a mistake to let him go.

Within three months our captain Lucas Neill had left, Collins had gone and Herita Ilunga was in and out of the team through injury.

Most Read

It left Matthew Upson as the only player from last season in the back four and I believe that lack of stability has had a negative effect on both his game and that of goalkeeper Robert Green.

Carlton Cole getting injured at a vital time was a big blow, as was his struggle to regain his best form since coming back from his knee trouble, while the lack of a settled strike partner next to him would not have helped his cause.

The financial situation has been without doubt the darkest cloud though from the start right through until the end.

From the threat of administration and 'armageddon' to then making every player bar Scott Parker available for transfer.

It has such an unsettling effect on the players and I feel it has had a major effect on their performances.

There is no doubt they have underperformed, but when there is constant talk of players leaving it does affect your confidence and you start to wonder if you are wanted enough.

Looking to next season I believe radical reform is needed at the club from the top to the bottom.

The club need to be pro-active and it would be great to see Robert Green, Carlton Cole and Matthew Upson sign long-term deals, because it would give us all security and keep the backbone of the team, which I feel is vital.

It will also set the tone and bring a real positivity to the club and the fans, who have been through a lot lately.

Like many West Ham fans I am fed up of seeing our best talent move on to play elsewhere and it would be brilliant if we buck the trend.

Things have been this way since the 1950's and seeing all those internationals at Tony Carr's testimonial brings home how much talent we have sold on over the years.

Now is a great opportunity to buck the trend and keep all that talent, which will give this wonderful club a great future.

We need a 10-year plan to try to make sure we are producing top players through the academy and make sure we hold on to the young talent of east London and Essex, which Chelsea are now trying to muscle in on.

We need to invest in our academy and the training ground to attract the very best players we can to the club which would give us an excellent platform to keep building upon.

I believe moving to the Olympic Stadium after the Games will go a long way in doing that, but I cannot see us playing there with a running track.

I believe most fans would rather see the chicken run extended than move into a ground with a running track.

The pitch is very close to the fans at Upton Park. It adds to the atmosphere, while a pitch miles away from the fans would spoil this.

Thierry Henry is one of my favourite players I have seen in the Premier League, but I don't think West Ham should try and bring him to Upton Park.

The former Arsenal man is coming towards the end of his career and demands a huge salary, while the recent record of former Arsenal players such as Davor Suker and Freddie Ljungberg moving to east London is poor.

I would like to see us bring young players in to the club and build for the future and not gamble, looking for a quick fix andfor me it is a step in the wrong direction.

The fact that he has been heavily linked with the MLS says a lot with regard to where he is at in his career.

It makes me chuckle to hear co-chairman David Sullivan talk about how poorly the club was run before and how they spent huge amounts of money on wages and then goes and allegedly offers Henry a contract which would make him the highest paid player in the club's history.

Henry does not need the money, but the club do at this moment in time and so, for me, signing the forward does not make sense.


Tony Cottee was talking to Matt Diner