We need to sort out our defence!

Author: . Published: at 8:39pm

Written by Nick Moore

(Written before the Man Utd game)

Although social media around West Ham has been viciously negative throughout the season it does seem that most supporters always thought we would stay up.

The line generally was that we should be much higher, that we have a good squad and we are not delivering.

I don’t agree with this. This squad without significant work will get us relegated.

In every year, bar one, since the premier league reduced to 20 clubs the team conceding most goals has been relegated. We have conceded 67 goals in 36 games along with Stoke who have played a game more.

The truth is we can’t defend.

We have been leaking goals since the back end of the final season at the Boleyn.

Since then the defenders we have brought in to change this have been

2016 -17 Masuaku, Arbeloa and Fonte.

2017 -18 Zabeleta and Evra.

Arbeloa and Fonte have come and gone and James Tomkins was sold.

This is not serious recruitment, given our growing defensive problems. Masuaku is talented but his defending – being kind – is not his strong suit. The other two are aging as is the whole squad.

The squad lacks pace, mobility and stamina.

Declan Rice – a great prospect – has emerged. Unusually for us he has come through the youth system.

But going into next season Ogbonna, Reid and Chicharito will all be thirty. Noble will be thirty one. Zabeleta is 33. Collins – should he stay- will be thirty five in August. Evra – brought in to give us better defensive capabilities against City – will be 37.

However attack minded you are defending is half the game. Manchester City are an attacking team full of creative players. They pressed us and squeezed the space better than we did.

None of these players will get any better. Reid and Collins – both great servants – can’t stay fit.

In midfield Mark Noble has been admirable and no one deserved to score the goal that kept us up more. He said after the game he doesn’t want another season like this one.

It will be exactly the same if the defensive side of the game is not addressed both in defence and in midfield. The midfield don’t tracks runners. Defensively Obiang and Kouyate have been dreadful this year. Where is the Kouyate who joined the club with the great motor, getting up and down? Obiang defensively has consistently failed to win the ball where he did before.

There is a goal we concede against teams with pace where you look up the pitch and can see them jogging back. They’ll be here in a minute…. Any moment now….

Our goalkeeping troubles are well known. Hart came in on loan, proving that none of our scouts watched the Euros. Randolph departed. Adrian has been relegated to number two for much of the season. So we may well need two new goalkeepers. Please do not sign Jack Buckland. We may have all been distracted by Hart’s present for Crouch but in the same game Buckland was unconvincing. He flapped on crosses and has been throwing them in this year.

The defensive side of the game needs to be the focus for our recruitment. It will be hard to get signings to fit all our short comings. Without changes, some pace defensively, some younger players we will struggle. With better defending we will be able to play further up the pitch which will help our better attacking players.

It worries me that we are linked with older defenders and midfielders from the relegated clubs. Maybe the odd one will strengthen us, but in general the players linked looked like the same as what we have. The squad that gets old together will get relegated together (as Stoke and WBA have already shown).

One last point it’s not about the stadium. We have won three games away all season compared to six at home. Neither is good but it’s so much easier to win football matches if you don’t concede nearly two goals a game.

 

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