David Moyes has revealed it was sacked director of recruitment Tony Henry who recommended West Ham sign Africans Islam Slimani and Ibrahim Amadou, and that the controversial comments he allegedly made came as a “massive shock”.
The club sacked Henry on Friday after the Daily Mail claimed he said they no longer wanted to sign African players because “they have a bad attitude” and “cause mayhem” when not selected.
West Ham said in a statement that he was dismissed “following his unacceptable comments that were widely reported,” and also added: “We will not tolerate any type of discrimination.”
Before Wednesday’s transfer deadline, they had attempted and failed to recruit both Algerian Slimani, who instead joined Newcastle on loan from Leicester, and the Cameroon-born Amadou from Lille.
Moyes was regardless asked about allegations the 60-year-old Henry claimed a directive to avoid African signings came from him, but the manager said: “If we were signing two African players on deadline day, you would have to say it’s incorrect and wrong.
“It’s a massive shock, because you are well aware of the couple of players we were trying to sign on deadline day, so that’s why it’s a big surprise. We were very, very close to signing two players from Africa.
“I’ve known Tony and he has to get on with his stuff but all I can say is that it wasn’t correct because we were trying to sign two players like that on deadline day.”
Asked if Henry had recommended Slimani and Amadou, he then responded: “Yes. They were two players who were slightly available, albeit who came up late.”
Referring to further reports Slimani had not joined West Ham because the club’s vice-chair Karren Brady had previously offended Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, Leicester’s owner, with comments she made about their sacking of Claudio Ranieri, Moyes said: “You probably know more.
“It was agreed on Tuesday night and it didn’t come off on Wednesday. I only woke up on Wednesday to be told it wasn’t going to happen. Then on Wednesday afternoon we hoped to do Amadou; we put in a loan offer for him.
“We didn’t want to pay the asking price because we hadn’t seen him often enough to put out the £16million for him. We made a really big loan offer, but we couldn’t get him.
“I don’t know why (Slimani’s signing wasn’t concluded). I’ll try to in time.”
Jordan Hugill was instead recruited from Preston, and could make his debut on Saturday at Brighton.
Amid their preparations for that fixture Moyes also approached the club’s players to hold a “frank conversation” with them regarding the reports surrounding Henry.
“That conversation will remain private,” the 54-year-old said. “All I can tell you is the players have worked really well. Hopefully we can move on.
“In all my time in football I’ve seen very little racism, and I don’t see it at any club. I’ve no doubt that it’s happening, so don’t think I don’t. But I’ve seen very very little.”