One was once the most expensive signing in West Ham’s history and the other scored the winning goal to send the Hammers back to the Premier League – yet both of their futures are uncertain to say the least.
Ricardo Vaz Tê was, of course, the player who helped us back to the top tier from five yards, but the promotion that he helped to secure wasn’t his first taste of the Premier League. The Portuguese forward had been a Sam Allardyce signing from his time with Bolton and despite having a relatively poor time in the north of England, Big Sam was willing to sign him once more following a successful spell with Barnsley in the Championship.
Vaz Tê arrived in the January of our single Championship season and was prolific to say the least. In 15 league appearances, Ricardo scored 10 goals for West Ham, which when combined with his 12 with Barnsley made him the second top goalscorer in the division. Despite playing such a huge part in the Hammers’ successful Championship campaign, he was considerably less effective in a good return season.
Last campaign Vaz made just eight appearances and thanks to a whole host of injuries to other players this season, he managed to come off the bench in the defeat versus Everton. Certainly a back-up player, but does he have anything to offer the club at this level? The other player in question is Matt Jarvis, who cost West Ham £10.75m. After arriving in the summer of 2012 from Wolverhampton Wanderers, Matt went on to play in 32 of the possible 38 Premier League matches.
His contribution, however, was an instant cause for concern. He’s got lightning quick pace and can deliver a sweet cross, but at the time the team as a whole were not exactly finding goals for fun. Like Vaz Tê, Jarvis came on as a substitute against Everton, which marked his second appearance of the season (after playing five minutes against QPR).
Our new system has left the wingers of West Ham redundant,with Stewart Downing forced to play a central position instead, which has luckily worked wonders. Both Ricardo and Matt are now struggling for any hope of game time and after signing for a hefty price tag, Jarvis is heading towards becoming an expensive flop.
In a formation that does include wingers, I still feel that Jarvis could fight for a starting spot, and at the very least would be a half decent impact substitute. His first set of performances with the Hammers have left a lot to be desired, but the 28-year-old has all the attributes to succeed if he can force his way past Downing and Morgan Amalfitano. The trouble for both of these players is that the new system requires versatility from the forwards.
Diara Sakho and Enner Valencia can both play centrally or out wide, whilst Downing is yet to find a position that he can’t play. Mauro Zarate has shown bright moments from various positions although he seems more comfortable centrally. You rarely see a player more suited to the wide position than Jarvis. His main assets are his pace and his crossing ability but they’re not particularly useful through the middle.
Therefore, while there are no wingers in the formation, Jarvis is an expensive back-up, and even when the formation does include widemen, it’ll be a place on the bench for Matt as he watches both Amalfitano and Downing continue their fine form. As for Vaz Tê, he has had chances as a striker and hasn’t impressed anywhere near enough to secure a regular place in the side.
In terms of centre-forward choices, he would be behind Carroll, Sakho, Valencia, Carlton and Mauro in Big Sam’s eyes – and rightly so in my opinion. Perhaps he found his level when in the Championship and when his contract runs out, I’d imagine that’ll be his next destination. It’s a shame that it never worked out for either player in the Premier League with West Ham, but I hold more hope that Jarvis can resurrect his time with the club than I do Vaz Tê.
Thanks for everything Ricardo, you’re written into West Ham folklore forever but your days here are done.