Safety is now all but assured for the Hammers albeit it has been quite a nervy end to the season with a lot of poor displays mixed in with some very positive ones.
Sam Allardyce will have a long summer ahead bringing in players that can take this club to the next level. Of course him achieving that will rely heavily on the money given to him by the board. There is no doubting though that the club needs strengthening in a whole host of positions, with rumours of players leaving and positions being threadbare in areas already, a number of rumours will be flying around in the summer.
First of all the club will need to buy a new back up ‘keeper, Jussi won’t be around forever and rumours in the press include David Marshall of Cardiff, who is a top class ‘keeper but I can’t see him wanting to come and be second choice to Adrian, so I think you can tick that off the list. Another name that has come up is Matt Gilks of Blackpool on a free. Hardly one to get the heart rate up but a solid pro none the less and it would save vital funds for other positions, so I wouldn’t necessarily mind the Blackpool stopper at West Ham.
I think we can all remember our run in December and January which saw Allardyce have to pick four full backs across the back four, I never want to see that again, it is just not good for the old ticker. So a priority (especially if Winston Reid was to leave) is a couple of centre backs or a solid full back who can cover centre back efficiently. The press have linked us with Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards of Manchester City.
There is no doubting that those two would be quality acquisitions but I can’t help feel both those players will have better offers. The club also won’t be able to afford both those players and I can see a young centre back from abroad coming in for cover. One player I would love to see here is Keiran Trippier of Burnley. I watch a lot of Championship football and he is one of the best young players in that league. He is solid defensively and very good going forward.
Whether we will be able to sign him now that Burnley are going up is a different question but he would be a class signing. I expect that Allardyce will secure the signing of Armero for a low fee. The left back looks good going forward but a little suspect at the back. He will have these last two games of the season to prove to the club he is worthy of a long term deal, but reports in the media suggest he has impressed the staff and players in training, so I fully expect that deal to go through.
Onto midfield now, and central midfield is a key area for me. Noble’s place is secure but there is definitely a place next to him up for grabs. With Diame sounding off about a move to a top six club (in your dreams Mo) the club will have to find a player who can add a bit of flair in central midfield. With rumours of Michael Carrick said to be wide of the mark, it will be interesting to see who Allardyce has in mind but a player of Carrick’s calibre is just what our midfield needs.
We already have a readymade player for attacking midfield in Ravel Morrison and I know it is an old clichÃ© but he will be like a new signing when he comes back.. I believe he will start to push Kevin Nolan all the way next season for the regular starting spot just behind Carroll so the club needn’t worry about spending any money there. An attack-minded winger who can score goals should also be the priority for Allardyce and his scouting team.
With Downing struggling to find the net and Jarvis scoring just four so far this season, there is an argument to find someone who is a striker/winger in the summer. With rumours aplenty surrounding Ross McCormack of Leeds coming to the club, perhaps his presence could change the club’s fortunes around.
I would look at Solomon Kalou for a potential player to look at. He has pace and trickery as well as an eye for goal, he was linked with us last summer and would be a very solid acquisition. Finally up front, we have seen this season that Carroll can get injured and that he needs a bit of competition to keep playing at a high level.
There have been a lot of rumours of foreign players being looked at, I don’t mind who comes in as long as he can find the back of the net on a regular basis. It is going to be a long summer for Allardyce and one that will be scrutinised and judged by every Hammers fan. Good luck Sam, rather you than me.