The sale of Grady Diangana to West Bromwich Albion for £18million was the transfer that threatened to derail West Ham United’s season before it had even begun.
Fans were in revolt against co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold.
And so too were the players.
West Ham captain Mark Noble took the unprecedented step of hitting out at the decision to sell the young winger with a pointed message to the club’s owners on social media.
Hammers looked on a hiding to nothing as squad and fans revolted over Diangana sale to West Brom
As the Hammers squad piled in to support Noble’s comment, it seemed West Ham were in for another long, hard season.
When David Moyes’s side lost their first two games that appeared to be confirmed.
What followed not even the most optimistic West Ham fan could have forseen.
Moyes led the club to its highest ever Premier League points total and into the Europa League group stages for the first time – agonisingly missing out on the Champions League spot they had been chasing by just one win.
Pearce praises Sullivan for ‘astute finance’ over controversial sale
Meanwhile Diangana struggled for game time under two different managers as West Brom were relegated – and beaten twice by the Hammers along the way.
Now with the benefit of hindsight, Sullivan’s decision – as majority shareholder – to sell Diangana was put to West Ham assistant Stuart Pearce when he appeared as a guest on talkSPORT this week.
And Pearce conceded it had proved ‘astute finance’ from the owners as it allowed Moyes to bring in key players.
“Probably looking back at the time now it was astute finance I think,” an honest Pearce said on talkSPORT.
‘The money has to be invested elsewhere and West Ham got it spot on’
“You know £18m for a youngster who – I wouldn’t say has been in and out of West Brom’s side – but on occasion he was in and out of the side.
“But that money also has to be invested elsewhere, so if you turned around and said it’s gone towards a loan fee of Jesse (Lingard), it’s gone towards Craig Dawson coming in to the football club as well.
“(Vladimir) Coufal coming in – (Tomas) Soucek – (Benrahma too), yep. And the impact these players make as well.
“The financial side of all clubs – and especially the climate we’re in at the moment with no crowds and stuff like that – clubs have got to be very cautious financially.”