So the Premier League has kicked off, as has NBC’s coverage, having taken over from Fox Sports and ESPN.
NBC will show three live games on Saturday, at least two on Sunday and then the Monday game, which is not much different from what we had in the past. What is different is that NBC is offering every game live via their “NBC Extra” app, and so while watching Arsenal v Villa on the network channel, I was able to watch West Ham v Cardiff on my tablet. No complaints after week number one!
My various football RSS feeds this week almost mirror last week; with the top stories being about transfers in and out, strengthening squads before the deadline, which is now only only a few days away. Brendan Rogers is worried that Liverpool don’t have enough depth and Spurs are spending money like water, but probably losing Bale. Meanwhile Chelsea are still looking at Rooney and have become late buyers in the race to sign Willian, upstaging Spurs in the process.
In Manchester, City lose Kompany for a month and are now searching for a replacement and United are still interested in buying two of Everton’s best players. As I’m reading I come across this interesting quote: “If you remember, I said I am happy with my squad but every manager says we are happy but we almost want something more and we never close the door. Before the game I told you that we had Plan B and Plan C. The point is not to sell; I want a 22-man squad. We do not need to sell.”
Another quote read: “I’ve got no money left, I’ve got the squad I’ve got, so that’s it” And another read: “If there is to be a new player coming in, we have to sell some players but I’m not looking at doing it because I’m happy with the squad I’ve got at the moment” Then I came across this quote: “(It is) unlikely there will be any ins or outs, you never say never, but we’re not actively looking for any players to bring in and we’re not actively looking to sell any players either.”
And another read: “I’m not anxious about any transfers like a lot of managers will have because we’ve done all our business as quick as we possibly can and I think we’ve got a very good squad.” Finally I came across this one: “Other teams are strengthening their squads considerably and obviously spending a lot more than we’re spending but that’s something you just have to deal with as the season goes on. We’ll decide what strength all the other teams are once the window is closed.”
Obviously, the difference between the first quote and the rest, is as wide as the gulf is between the two clubs, and more importantly, the two squads. Jose Mourinho has everything that Big Sam doesn’t. Mourinho worries about a squad with so much depth, that playing time, chemistry, egos, wages and expectations dominate his world. Allardyce on the other hand is broke. Let’s list the West Ham starters from last weekend’s game against Cardiff that could start for Chelsea… exactly.
So here we are going into the Stoke game and already knowing that West Ham has no money left for transfers this summer, and understanding that the club will have sell players in order to buy. Last week I had my rant about the money we spent this summer versus what other teams did, and also highlighted the revenue given to West Ham by the Premier League. It wasn’t my intention to make this a weekly crusade, but Big Sam’s message should be a warning to us fans.
The Premier League season is a marathon, full of ups and downs, but the most important thing to me is depth, and I am not going to pretend that I am happy, when it’s already obvious, that unless we have an injury free season, we are once again going to be mired in the bottom third. Carroll, who spent last season on loan at West Ham, became the club-record buy when he was brought in on a permanent basis from Liverpool earlier in the summer and he was joined by former Anfield team-mate Downing. Unfortunately, Carroll is still injured and will not play this weekend.
Even though the transfer window remains open and West Ham had been linked with Juventus forward Fabio Quagliarella, Big Sam knows that will not be happening. “It’s not frustrating for me, it’s a fact of life. There is a new set of regulations that say you’ve got a limit on your wages set by these new rules that the owners have decided to put into place. I’ve hit my limit and that’s it, we move on.” So based on this quote, are we to assume that West Ham has hit the wage limit imposed by the new rules, or the limit imposed by the owners?
There is no doubt that the owners have given Big Sam a maximum wage bill and he has no room left to strengthen the squad. Which again, begs the question, why sign Carroll, when he’s never healthy and gets injured every time he sneezes? I sense frustration in the quotes by Allardyce, and he understands that to compete you need depth and money to spend.
Not having Carroll to start the season must be weighing on him too. It’s one thing to beat a poor Cardiff team, who along with Hull look likely to be “one and done” in the Premier League, but here we gearing up to play Stoke, and he’s still missing. Here’s what he said, when asked about his ailing forward: “Andy has had an injection to finally finish off the last bit of pain and suffering in that area.
“Within the next few days we’ll expect him to step up his training, and then we’ll take it one day at a time from there in terms of his progression. “I think now it could be pretty quick but it could be something that takes a little bit longer. We just do it day-byday based on how Andy feels. “If he’s feeling good from the day before, we’ll step the training up a little bit more and we do that each day. As long as he’s not feeling any pain in that area we step it up until he joins in with the lads.”
Who out there reading this has ANY confidence that Carroll will start a game before the end of September? Based on his transfer fee, let’s say he plays 5 years. Each game he misses costs about £100k. The clock is ticking and has already reached £200k that can never be recouped. Finally, a comment on Big Sam’s 50 point target for this season. You’ve got to love his optimism.