Leicester City are probably the most unlikely champions in the history of English football. What can West Ham learn from Claudio Ranieri’s side?
Lucy Woolford: We’ve probably lived through some time with the Leicester mentality – it doesn’t have to be pretty, you’ve got to win points. They might be becoming less popular with the footballing world, but Ranieri has been effective and I really have to admire his ethos. More teams should relax and enjoy playing without the weight of the world on their shoulders
Kiran Moodley: Not much football-wise unless we want to return to the long ball tactics of Big Sam. Clearly, the ability to maintain a core squad and keeping all the key players fit is what helped the Foxes. Yet the real lesson is their belief, their lack of fear, and their energy. How we needed all three in our Cup replay against Manchester United.
Danny Rust: We can learn that you do not need to be a member of the ‘Big Four’ in order to challenge at the top of Premier League table. Leicester’s rise and success is also a fantastic example of not needing to spend vast sums of money on players. The Foxes’ three best players this season – Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante – were signed for less than £10m
David Bowden: It really has been the ultimate fairytale. They were seemingly doomed last season, but are worthy champions this season. But I think there are very few things the Hammers can learn from the Foxes. They have been very fortuitous in the fact they have had very few injuries. Indeed, the only thing I can think of is the ability to see out a game. Ranieri’s men have mastered that and that’s why they are winning the league and we are just a top-six side. West Ham have suffered a dispropor
tionate amount of bad refereeing decisions in recent weeks. Is using technology to help referees the answer? LW: Technology is the only way in my eyes. We live in a world now where tech is part of everything we do, mostly for the better. So why are we so afraid of what it could do to football? While some referees seem to be just poor, there are countless incidents of human error and misinterpretation on display week-in, weekout. These decisions cost clubs so much and mistakes could be largely avoidable
KM: Sorry Lucy. I disagree. There is a difference between technology that is clear cut – i.e. goal line – and technology that simply involves replays that are watched and decided upon by someone who could still go against what you think is right. A replay could have led to a referee not sending off Jamie Vardy. Kouyate’s red card was only overturned by a 2-1 decision. Opinion will always remain.
DR: I think technology should be available for game-changing instances. For example, if a red card is debatable – as was the case for Cheikhou Kouyate against Crystal Palace, which led to a Palace equaliser – or if a penalty is wrongly given, like the penalty against Chelsea. Technology would lead to referees getting criticised less and the correct decisions being made more often, so it would help teams and officials.
DB: I think this is another reason why Leicester are winning the league and we aren’t! We just never seem to get the rub of the green. How any club can go four-years without winning an away penalty, before the one we were given at the King Power last month, is beyond me. Technology simply has to come in now. It is in nearly every sport, but the biggest sport in the world. It would take seconds to review a decision and then we wouldn’t have to have this constant beef with the referee.
Dimitri Payet is widely expected to win the Hammer of the Year award. Taking our star Frenchman out of the equation who else deserves to be in with a shout? LW: It’s great to have had a season where a few names could be in the mix. Lanzini has been a revelation and if he hadn’t had a spell out with injury, he’d have been even more influential. Mark Noble should be in with a shout. All right, he’s not on song every game, but without his direction and passion there’s a big void. I’d say Adrian has kept us in a few games this season too.
KM: Cheikhou Kouyate and Mark Noble will always be my favourites, even when up against Dimitri Payet, purely because their work ethic and consistency is far greater than the Frenchman’s. Yes, he can have a bad game and then one bit of magic swings the game in our favour (Liverpool FA Cup replay), but Noble and Kouyate keep us in games when the rest of the team isn’t performing.
DR: Cheikhou Kouyate has been superb this season. The midfielder was good before, but I think he has been on another level this term and should be in with a shout. His work rate is phenomenal and his defensive and attacking play is fantastic. Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio have surprised me with how good they have been in their first season in the top flight and Mark Noble has been great once again.
DB: Payet will win it, that I am sure of, but in my mind there are one or two others who deserve to be in with a shout, Michail Antonio would be one, he has been a revelation since breaking into the side. James Collins would be another, he has been an absolute rock at the back for the Hammers when fit, and it is no surprise his absence has seen us start to leak goals again.
Would you like to see West Ham keep Victor Moses this summer? If so how much would you be prepared to pay Chelsea for him?
LW: I think he’s the kind of squad player you need in a team like ours. He’s a great option to have on the bench and a really handy ‘cup man’. But would I want us to pay anything significant to keep him? I’m afraid not. That’s no disrespect to him, I just think we have better options. For the money Chelsea would demand plus wages, we could scout a greater alternative
KM: Victor Moses is somewhat of an Andy Carroll player for me. Not always great when he starts but can make an impact with his pace and physicality from the bench. I feel what West Ham needs is more consistent players with flair, like another Mark Noble with a bit more wow factor! I don’t see Moses as a long-term player. I wouldn’t be upset if he stayed, but I wouldn’t be overjoyed either.
DR: After his fantastic performance in the 2-0 win over Newcastle United in September, I thought he was going to be a good addition. But he doesn’t seem to have the same fight and determination as others. Michail Antonio has come in and become a fans’ favourite straighta – way because of his goals, work rate, commitment and determination. Chelsea will demand a huge amount for Moses so I would be inclined to look for someone else.
DB: Personally, no I wouldn’t sign the Nigerian. As much as I like him as a player, he hasn’t shown enough to warrant a permanent deal at the club. Chelsea would want a fortune for him, and in my mind, there are better players out there than him. Rumours of Nolito are exciting and I would rather club invested in him than Moses. Roy Hodgson has con – stantly overlooked West Ham players during his time as the national team boss. Do you care how England get on during this summer’s European Champion – ships?
LW: Roy Hodgson keeps falling in my estimation. That sounds really bitter, but I just don’t think he’s done well in justifying his decisions for dismissing our players so openly whilst picking those who’ve done little to keep their places. I get excited for big tournaments but I have very low expectations and I won’t be surprised if he makes himself less likeable during the summer.
KM: Of course I care how England get on this summer. For me, they are like West Ham on the international stage. So much promise and so much hope, and yet your dreams are always shattered in the cruelest of ways. I am not too bothered by Hodgson’s omissions of Cresswell, Carroll or Noble. As much as I love that trio, I completely understand that he feels he has better players.
DR: It seems like Mark Noble and Aaron Cresswell will never get a chance for England while Roy Hodgson is in charge. The best thing that could happen for the duo is England fail and a new manager is brought in. Then they might finally get the opportunity they deserve. I will still watch the European Cham – pionships and want England to win. But it will not be nice to see a lot of Tottenham players on show
DB: The club over country debate is simple, I am West Ham over England all day long. Having said that of course I am going to support my country in the Euros. It is scan – dalous that players like Aaron Cresswell and co get overlooked but it is something I think we have all got used to by now, Hodgson is an old fool. It would be great for the nation to win a major tournament and I want to see us do well.