Window shopping – How much is that striker in the window?
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 19 May 2019 at 7:00pm
Written by: Nick Moore
Since Gold and Sullivan bought West Ham, we have signed 45 strikers (including loan players). There are probably some we have forgotten still hanging around Chadwell Heath and Rush Green like Japanese soldiers in the jungle who don’t know the war is over. In the transfer window that opens this week we shall be looking for a new striker or two once more.
Buying strikers is always exciting. But buying lots of strikers doesn’t work. It’s like building a penthouse on a slum’s foundation. Even if you are great striker – and lots of the strikers we have signed haven’t been remotely great; Mido, Benni McCarthy, Petric, Chamakh, Jelavic, to name just a few – they need to have chances. The better the whole side plays, the easier it is for strikers.
It was only last season that we had the joint worst defence in the Premier League. This season only Fulham and Huddersfield had less clean sheets.
To strengthen the side you need to strengthen throughout. Let’s hope that Mario Husillos also has other positions in mind when the window opens.
We will need a reserve goalkeeper, with Adrian out of contract. The second keeper is one concussion, one injury, one suspension away from being very important. Ideally this keeper would be a younger keeper to take over in time from Fab. We have two good young keepers who have come through the academy. Neither has played a league game anywhere. To have them on the bench would be a huge risk.
We also need some younger players. By the end of the transfer window on August 8th, thirteen of the current West Ham squad will be 30 or older. This does include two players who will be moving on – Adrian and Carroll – and one – Nasri– who is likely to do so. On the other hand, a further three players will turn 30 during the next season.
An aging squad is a problem because squads that age together often get relegated together. Look at Stoke and West Brom in recent memory. It’s not as though the West Ham squad is blessed with pace. The current squad will get slower and slower as it gets older and older. It will also be more injury prone – if that is possible. This squad desperately needs players under 25 and with pace.
Players you want to shift out tend to be the players that other clubs are not that keen to sign. This is particularly true when players are over 30. Clubs neither want to pay large transfer fees that they won’t be able to get back or keep players on their existing wages when they know their performance will decline.
As well as looking at those out of contract this year, it’s important to consider those who will be out of contract at the end of next season, before we lose them for nothing once their contracts have run down. Lanzini, Chicharito, Snodgrass, Masuaku, Sanchez and now Zabeleta all complete their contracts next year. Who of these should we be offering a new contract to, and who will we be okay about leaving for nothing? And who might we sell now while we can?
At the back, Cresswell has had trouble staying fit this year. He seems to have had issues since pre-season. Masuaku is very vulnerable defensively. We have a West Ham tradition, as many sides do now, that full backs carry a lot of the weight getting the ball forward. However, full backs need to be able to defend, particularly away from home.
Many fans complain about inconsistency. We are good in games against sides that attack and look to win the game. This creates space. However, we are particularly vulnerable in those games against more defensive sides where you have compete for the right to play. We have a terrible record against Brighton and Bournemouth and our away performances at Burnley Cardiff Wolves and, most embarrassingly, AFC Wimbledon show that we have weaknesses at centre back and in midfield.
Centre back cover is also an issue. Currently the cover is Ogbonna and Reid, who are both on long term contracts. Reid has been injured all season and even before that he seemed to be carrying a long term injury. Many fans seem to like Ogbonna, but in his run in the first team after Balbuena’s injury, we didn’t win away from home except at Southampton. This run includes some terrible performances including conceding four goals away to AFC Wimbledon in the cup.
In midfield there have been games where we haven’t competed. Despite Rice’s progress and Noble’s commitment and ability to adjust to the needs of the game, we have been overrun on too many occasions.
Perhaps one our midfielders out on loan can bridge that gap, Cullen, Fernandes or possibly Browne.
We have shown at times this season real quality. But there have been some poor performances too. And Bilic lost his job the season before because we were doing a good impersonation of a side that wanted to be relegated. Good signings to improve the squad are so important.
Over to you Mario.