Tony Cottee: David Sullivan should not attack the West Ham players

Tony Cottee discusses all things West Ham in his exclusive column

West Ham co-owner David Sullivan was right to come out and defend boss Avram Grant, but he should not have lambasted the players in the newspapers.

It’s something I would never agree with and personal grievances should be said face-to-face rather then in the media.

Sullivan attacked some of the foreign players at the club, claiming they wanted to leave and although he did not name names the comments will surely have an unsettling effect.

Every player is different and would have different reasons for wanting to leave, which is why it is so important to conduct these things on a one-to-one basis.


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Players do get unsettled from time to time and it is important that the boss is in a position where he can help the player and hopefully sort out the issue.

It is the managers’ job to keep the team happy and keeping those unsettled or currently out of the team satisfied is where he earns his wages.

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Sometimes the player wants to leave for personal reasons and often when it gets to that stage, as Liverpool found out with Javier Mascherano, the best thing to do is to sell the player.

I don’t believe there are any benefits to airing your dirty linen in public and generalising the way Sullivan did can upset team morale.

He defended Grant in the same article, emphasising it takes time to build a team and that fans should be patient and on that I can agree with him.

There was speculation that he only had three games to save his job, but I doubt there is any substance to the story, especially after Sullivan gave his support.

These type of stories that sell newspapers and when your team is not performing there is always speculation, it’s the nature of the business. It’s the way it has always been and to be honest I can’t see it ever changing. One minute you’re the best thing since sliced bread and the next, your job is on the line.

Grant obviously knows that we can’t keep losing matches and the sooner we halt the losing run the better.

It makes this Saturday’s match against Chelsea so important and even a draw against the champions will really kick-start our season.

Like many Hammers fans going to Upton Park this Saturday I would like to see us really have a go at Chelsea, which is why playing two up front will set the tone.

I want to see Carlton Cole and Freddie Piquionne play together and test the Chelsea back-line. We need to close down John Terry when he has possession of the ball and see how he responds to pressure.

I am sure the fans would much rather see us try to win the game and lose 3-0 rather then sitting back and trying to defend for 90 minutes.

If we let them dictate the play they will eventually pick us apart and it’s how they win a lot of their matches.

On this occasion I would like to see us try and play a little more direct and let Chelsea know we are there and not show as much respect to them as we might have.

Put a couple of crisp tackles in early on and try to disrupt how they play. I’m not saying kick them off the park, but if we try and play football against them we will lose, because they have better players and will outplay us.

In the position we are in, fans and players need a lift and a result, or even a spirited performance against Chelsea will do that and set us up nicely for Stoke next week.

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