We decided to ask Anfield Wrap contributors what they would do this summer with clubs that weren’t their own; how they would resurrect Aston Villa? How can Arsenal make the next step? Who would you hire and who would you fire?

Each got to advise, be Director Of Football or even take the reins at the club in question. And of course, we asked Dave Downie to do Liverpool.

You can read the others here:

West Ham – Ben Johnson

It’s natural to have doubts about a new job isn’t it? Especially when you have been catapulted into a managing director-level role at an elite standard football club when your previous involvement in a football team resulted in you getting sent off every other week and occasionally getting booked.

A few doubts are knocking about. That said, Roy Hodgson is England manager for fuck’s sake so you have probably got this on merit.

The new Director of Football Operations for West Ham United. Brought to the club as the bright new starlet of football finance, but with a head for the game sadly lacking across the remainder of the league. The Fernando Torres of football finance. Or something like that. He’s still good isn’t he?

It’s a tricky gig this though. The only real information I have been given about my role is that I need to focus on cementing us into a top six team over the course of the next few seasons and deliver European football on a regular basis.

Oh, and make sure we win a cup, any cup, but make it the FA variety. All of that while making sure we play the West Ham United way and keep the 50,000 season ticket holders in the new ground happy.

Speaking of the new ground, I can’t wait to see how they brokered that deal for the stadium. During my interview they were all still laughing their cocks off about it when I asked them. I reckon they must have set up some indiscreet cameras in the changies of the Westminster branch of their sex shops and have some pretty revealing stills of some pretty important Conservatives with some pretty depraved gear on to have managed that one.

Well it’ll either be that or something to do with the donations we made to them. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence. Either way, I’m staying right out of that one. A scouser snooping around in Tory-related affairs; I’ll be homeless and shot if they find out.

Now, seeing as though we were tipped to go down last year when big Slavo was appointed, (I haven’t met him yet) the expectations are up there with some of the most demanding in the league.

I’ve got carte blanche to do what I want, so the first decision I have to make is whether to Keep big Slavo or bullet him and get someone else in.

It’s an easy decision to make. He over-performed with this squad last year to such an extent that he is deffo staying. I get shut of him and all I’m doing is lashing my neck on the line. Easy.

The next decision to make is whether I overhaul the recruitment process. Again, why would I interfere with a system that is performing? Tony Henry, our director of recruitment has a knack for uncovering talent and has been responsible for some great signings. I’ll be forming a strong working relationship with him and eventually bending him to my viewpoint. No sudden sharp movements. He knows Jorge Mendes, for Christ’s sake. One wrong step there and I’ll be back working in the Telewest call centre in the dock.

So if I’m not going to be changing the manager nor taking over recruitment, what will I be focusing on to meet my targets?

For a kick off, I will be setting a new strategy for both departments to work towards. It’s a bit of a gamble given they want me to be finishing in the top six, but I think it is a gamble worth taking.

Both the management team and the recruitment department will be concentrating all their efforts on bringing a trophy to Upton Park, I mean the Boleyn Ground, I mean the Olympic West Ham Conservative Alliance Ground, or whatever it’s called. A particular importance will be placed on our performance in the Europa League. We will be taking a leaf out of Seville’s book.

It is pretty evident to me that given the level of competition within the Premier League, what with Chelsea, Liverpool and possibly Everton all fighting for Champions League and Europa League qualification with the existing top four of Leicester, Arsenal, Tottenham, a revitalised Manchester City under Guardiola’s guidance, not forgetting a Mourinho Manchester United who are about to bladder £200 million all over the show, that a better alternative might be to try to actually win something and qualify for Europe that way. The Europa League via the FA Cup, or the Champions League if we win the Europa League.

I’m also wary of the impact of moving to a new stadium. It will take us time to settle into our new environment, potentially impacting on our ability to match or better last season’s points total. That coupled with the well-documented negative effect of playing on Thursday night and Sunday afternoon on your chances of winning makes it a pretty straightforward decision.

So if that is the strategy then, what are we going to do to bring it to fruition?

The recruitment team will be asked to focus on a couple of things. Developing the squad to allow for a couple of teams to be picked depending on the competition is the first. Ruthlessness, in both boxes, is the second.

Goals will need to be purchased and added to the squad. Some of the players linked already over the close season would suggest that Henry is already focusing on this. Kindred spirits, mate.

Carlos Bacca can bang them in, no doubt. That’s a start and a pretty good one. In order to stay competitive in the league we are going to need goals on the bench.

I’m going to ask Henry to run the numbers on Jermaine Defoe, strictly for league football. If they come out alright we might look at it. Defoe brings goals, and nothing else. That will do as league back-up. We might need to add in one more to this list. This will be wholeheartedly encouraged. Goals win games. Let’s get all of the goals.


If this was Jaws and our goalie was a boat, given we are going to be sailing in a big wide European ocean, someone might say something like: “We are going to need a bigger goalie, or boat, or something”. We need a better keeper. Let’s just say that.

I haven’t got a clue on keepers so I’m relying on the recruitment team to come up with the strategy. Let’s buy a German. They appear to be able to catch it. You come up with someone, it’s your job lads, make sure he is boss though, eh?

Aside from that we will be focusing on some strength in depth to give us the flexibility to change it up in the league, and if everything goes to plan we will be looking to add one real bit of quality to the centre midfield starting position, possibly an old head to guide us through our sharky waters.

A quick shortlist of Wijnaldom and Sissoko from Newcastle for squad depth and Thiago Motta, Yaya Toure, Michael Carrick, Cabaye, Fellaini and N’Zonzi for the midfield will be surreptitiously planted within the recruitment team’s folder in a Derren Brown-esque move to get what I want. No mind games here.

The manager will be informed of my unwavering support for his position and informed of the new strategy later on this afternoon when I meet him for the first time. He will be advised that if he needs to rotate his squad it will be in the league that he must do it, at least until qualification for the next stage is confirmed.

I’m pretty sure he will be made up, especially as I will also be telling him he gets to move out of Big Sam’s old office any day now. It can’t be nice opening the drawers of your desk and finding a heady brew of heavily-gnawed lamb chops, old soiled copies of Loaded and countless used plasters in there.

Seems pretty straightforward this Director of Football Operations lark doesn’t it. Let’s plot a course to Stockholm for the Europa League final and a glorious new chapter in West Ham United’s pretty inglorious history.

Up the Conservative-supporting, Europa League-loving, Bubble-blowing Hammers.