Twitter ye not as Hammers search continues

Posted by Peter Thorne

Football fans in general, and West Ham fans in particular, are often portrayed as knuckle-drugging morons with little brain and fewer morals. It's encouraging, then, to see the response from Hammers supporters on the social media websites being used to garner opinion on whether West Ham should bid for the £5million-rated forward Ilombe Mboyo from Gent.

Mboyo, seemingly another of the surprisingly impressive number of players currently coming out of Belgium, has been described as a 'pearl' by Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany, and with the 20 goals Mboyo scored for Gent last season, the capture of the 26-year-old would look like a good bit of business.

Fortunately though, business and sporting interests have been shelved as David Gold asked his followers on Twitter if they would object if the club bid for the player, bearing in mind Mboyo had served three years of an eight-year sentence for his part in the gang rape of a 14-year-old when he was 16. An encouraging 99% objected to the proposed move and Jack Sullivan's son, David, indicated that would almost certainly be the end of the matter, being quoted as saying 'I'm sure we won't sign him. We respect your views.'

There will be those who question if someone who has served his time should be forever stigmatised for a crime -- however abhorrent -- committed over a decade ago when he was much younger and more open to peer pressure and, obviously there is a whole debate to be had on the nature of crime and punishment, the need and point of rehabilitation and how the perpetrators of crime re-establish their place back in society if -- as we'd hope -- the crimes are accepted and regretted.

Most West Ham fans though seem to believe this isn't a debate that needs to be carried out on the terraces and stands and certainly not one that needs to be discussed in England -- never the most forgiving of places -- and certainly not one required in the east end. The owners will surely be looking at the furore over former fan favourite and Right-wing sympathiser Paolo Di Canio when he took over at Sunderland last season and then wonder what might happen if the Hammers bought a £6m former rapist. Good to see though that there didn't appear to be many who served up the old chestnut of "Who cares providing he bangs 'em in for us?" As Mr Zimmerman pointed out some decades back, times are indeed a-changing.

Eyes may well be cast towards Germany instead with Werder Bremen striker Marko Arnautovic apparently attracting the attention of Sam Allardyce. The 6ft 3in Austrian can play on either wing or as a central striker and has the pace the Hammers' forward line desperately needs. Not only is Arnautovic only 24 years old, but rumours have it that the player is very keen to move to London. Quite if this desire manifested itself before or after he heard of the Irons' interest remains to be seen, but he does seem the type of player who could fill several requirements particularly as Allardyce often puts a team member wide when chasing a game. Indeed, one of the criticisms most levelled at Allardyce is that he sometimes perseveres with a square peg in a round hole in order to maintain his preferred team formation, and a mobile player who can also utilise the 'big lump' up front would appear to be just what the coach ordered.

Then again, with the midfield scoring with such abandon in pre-season -- in the latest Ravel Morrison scored a brace against Sporting Lisbon in a 3-2 win -- Allardyce may well feel he can afford to wait to get his man.

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