Tony's Surprise

Tony Gale admits he is surprised by Jermain Defoe's transfer request - not to mention the timing of it.

Jermain's agency - shared, incidentally, by David Beckham - released a statement of intent to move on in which he nonetheless praised the staff and the fans at Upton Park.

The news, though, took Tony, who earned a testimonial at West Ham before he was released, aback, and he says:

"I can't believe it, actually; I do believe there is no loyalty in football now, but we are talking about 3,000 fans who have just travelled to Birmingham, I don't think the tears have quite got to the bottom of their faces and Jermain has slung a transfer request in.

"We are talking about Glenn maybe having an operation very soon as well, and I just think it is thoughtless and it is heartless, really.

"The club that has given him so much, his opportunity, deserved a bit more.

"Whoever is advising him, I think, is giving bad advice at this time; even if we had not got off to a good start next season, that would have been the time to say 'it is time for a transfer request' but sometimes advisers giving young boys advice don't think it all through.

"Sometimes the problem is not the player and I don't think anyone has got a bad word to say about Jermain.

"Yes there is an ambition to get to the top quickly but I think he has still not made a huge amount of Premiership starts, in comparative terms, and by his own admission he is still learning.

"Maybe I am a little bit old-fashioned, but I thought the boys would give it one more year - I must be naive.

"I know the club have to sell some players but I wouldn't think Jermain is one of those they would want to sell.

"I think he would get about 40 or 50 goals in the first division next season and we will need goals to get us out.

"I am a little bit disappointed, quite frankly, but the board don't have to grant the request and he can play on."