Ex-Hammer Razvan ‘Roland’ Rat was in the news again yesterday as he popped up to score the winner for Romania in a close fought ‘friendly’ battle with neighbours Albania. The 33 year old has now amassed almost 100 international caps, including many as captain. After all the tensions of the Premier league season, Hammers fans can reflect upon a strange year that included the mysterious and sudden exit of Rat at the end of the transfer window.
Rat initially struggled to get into the first side and had
to sit on the bench for the first five Premiership outings, but injuries to Guy
Demel and then Joey O’Brien created space for rat to join the starting line up.
Initially he slotted in well but as Hammers form dipped with injuries to their
three centre backs, Rat’s performances became more erratic with rumours of friction
with Allardyce. These criticisms focused upon Razvan’s tendency to drift
forwards (contravening Allardyce’s game plans) with Rat apparently claiming
communication difficulties as the reason for the ‘misunderstanding’. The goal against Albania was a tap in having
arrived from nowhere at the right side of the six-yard box – hardly a place for
an Allardyce left back! Never the less, it would be difficult to pick out a
specific incident where the full back could be blamed for a poor result and his
departure was sudden and unexpected amongst Hammers faithful.
|I've no idea either mate!
Undoubtedly financial issues were relevant to the Rat story – with a one-year 30K a week contract this was always paid mercenary employment, especially for the 33 year old battle-weary Romanian. However, it is rumoured that the severance package included Rat receiving 75% of his projected earnings, making this explanation less credible. It has been suggested that his contract included a clause to allow for a two-year extension if he appears in two-thirds of matches – and it is ntable that he managed 20 appearances for the Hammers - but his age would make that a barely credible possibility. FFP rules may also have been a factor forcing a reduced wage bill but most clubs have so far been quite cavalier in their disregard for these limits and it remains to be seen whether Man City’s fine will penetrate the general indifference out there.
So perhaps the best clue as to what really happened lies in the timing of Rat’s departure – right at the end of the transfer window. It seems likely that he may have been made available in the window but few foreign clubs could match the Premiership wages and his subsequent employment at Rayo Vallecano represents a nice top up of his salary and a welcome boost ahead of a looming retirement. Although Rayo Vallecano managed to stay up in La Liga, the’little’ team of Madrid got poor value for their signing as Rat struggled to find form and also had to sit out a four match suspension soon after his arrival for a red card received for an off the ball scrap with Celta Vigo forward, Charles. One wonders how much contact Rat’s agent had with the Spanish side prior to his departure as he assumed unattached status after leaving West Ham – with no apparent career plan!?!
All in all, the Rat story is indicative of a poor transfer strategy last year where for all the signings, only Stewart Downing really impressed. As we find ourselves linked to all sorts of transfer fodder ahead of the world cup, perhaps we need to spend more on less and strengthen the Adrain-Reid/Tomkins-Noble-Carroll spine with real quality rather than over the hill mercenaries (no, not you Joe Cole – you are a true patriot of the cause!). As for that difficult left back slot – what about giving Dan Potts a decent chance in the Premiership rather than some token run outs in meaningless cup competitions?
|Potts scores against Braga in last year's Pre-season