Tony Cottee: West Ham's window woes raise concerns for future

West Ham's owners have questions to answer following the club's failure to sign a striker before the transfer deadline, says Tony Cottee

The transfer window didn't bring us the striker we desperately need. Instead, I'm left with real concerns about the future of West Ham.

First and foremost, I'm very disappointed that James Collins has left - I think he's been a very good defender for us and it always concerns me when we sell one of our better players.

I know he's been injured a fair bit during his four years at Upton Park, but he's steady and reliable and I don't think anyone can argue with the fact that he's one of our better players, especially after his performance at Blackburn last Saturday.

With Collins going and no major signing made to replace him, there are two big concerns about the squad: firstly, we don't want Carlton Cole to get injured; secondly, we don't want Matthew Upson to get injured.

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With little in the way of cover at centre-half or up front, there is now a lot of pressure on those two to stay healthy because they're virtually irreplaceable.

Another major worry is the goals situation. Simply put, I can see us really struggling to put away our chances and that's going to put an awful lot of pressure on the defence to keep clean sheets.

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With the form he's in, I'd expect Cole to get 15 goals this season, but he's our only out-and-out striker and he's playing in front of a midfield that just aren't scoring goals at the moment.

I know we've brought in Alessandro Diamanti and Luis Jimenez over the summer, but it's unfair to expect those lads to come in and contribute to the team immediately.

I must admit that I don't know much about Diamanti. I've heard he's had rave reviews in Italy but it's asking a lot for someone from Serie B to come in and start banging in the goals.

It takes time to settle in a new country - and especially to adapt to the Premier League - and you don't always get the time for that to happen.

You only have to look at what happened with Savio, who arrived with a big reputation in January and is back in Italy barely six months later.

For all the fantastic Zolas and Cantonas, Bergkamps and Di Canios, there's a lot of foreign players that come here for big money and just can't make it work.

But the biggest concern coming out of this transfer window is that the off-field situation at the very top of the club needs to be sorted out.

There has been a trickle of players out of Upton Park over the last 18 months and it's all been to balance the books.

That just won't work in the long-term. If you own a football club, you've got to invest in it.

At the moment, there's no investment at West Ham and that puts huge pressure on the likes of Scott Duxbury and Gianfranco Zola.

I know that Scott and Gianfranco were desperate to sign players, but unfortunately you need money to sign players and without backing from the club's owners, what can they do?

They can identify players and negotiate deals to sign them, but if the owners refuse to release any funds, they're just as powerless as the rest of us.

You can't have a situation where the manager and the chief executive are at loggerheads with the owners.

And part of the problem is that I can't even tell you who's making the decisions about the club - is it Straumur, is it CB Holdings? Whoever it is, it's a mess.

The owners have got to realise that this is more than just a business and you can not run West Ham like a bank or a commercial company.

In business, the decisions you make only affect your shareholders and employees. But the decisions made at West Ham affect hundreds of thousands of fans all over the world.

And you can't just sell off assets and not invest. James Collins is an asset that hasn't been replaced. All right, we've got Da Costa in as cover, but we should be trying to strengthen the team because you can't stand still in football.

The only way to avoid going backwards as a club is to invest, whether that be buying a new training ground, building a new stand or bringing in new players, you need to spend or you'll stagnate.

I'm not asking for them to pump hundreds of millions into the club, but it's a worrying sign when the likes of Hull, Sunderland and Stoke are outspending us.

It's very easy to get sucked into a relegation battle, especially this year because it's the most competitive Premier League for many, many years.

There are six clubs potentially involved in the scrap at the top and as many as 10 or 12 in the scrap at the bottom and we can't be complacent and think we won't be involved.

What if we're involved at the wrong end of the table in January and we're again told that there's no money available to strengthen the team? How is the manager supposed to turn it around?

We've just had to go through a summer in which we were more worried about sales than bringing people in. Lets hope that the next few months bring us the sale we really want and the club ends up in the hands of people with its long-term interests at heart.

Tony Cottee was talking to Jonathan Clegg.

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