As this season finally limps and crawls to a close, it’s time to start forgetting it ever happened and focus on how to improve for the future. One of the key issues this year was the lack of available right-backs, an issue that caused considerable stress and negative goal difference for us.
At times, it felt that each game brought a new surprise substitute right back onto the pitch – to largely negative results. Throughout the season, fans have been particularly vocal about the need to sign a rightback, but how does this sit with Sam Byram?
Is Byram enough for the Hammers? Will he solve West Ham’s right back problem, or will we still need to buy this summer? Byram is a good right-back, and has plenty of potential for the future. At just 23 years old, he is still learning – but his youth doesn’t negatively affect his performance. He is calm, cool and collected on the ball and is a very focused and determined player. He’s done well for the Hammers in the games he’s played and can be trusted when on the pitch.
However, Byram is, regretfully, also part and parcel of West Ham’s right back problem. He’s an excellent defender – there’s no questioning that – but he also seems to have graduated from the Andy Carroll School of Medicine. He’s injured more than we’d like him to be, making his presence on the pitch unreliable.
A hamstring injury kept Byram away from first team football for a substantial period, and he had only just returned to the squad when he sustained an ankle injury against Swansea. While being oft-injured is the clearest sign of being a true Hammer, it’s also a clear sign that we still need to invest in another right back. We need to know that we are covered as and when Byram is injured. If we ever want to have strength in depth, we need actual depth – and that means having at least one player per position – but also having options to change up the game if needed (like other clubs do – wild idea, I know).
This is also for Byram’s own good. It’s not ideal for Byram to get complacent without having another hungry player challenging for his spot every week. I’m looking at you, Aaron Cresswell. Sam Byram is a great player with a big future at the Olympic Stadium – but he needs cover.
We’ve spent an entire season demanding a right back, and the truth is nothing in that demand has changed. Here’s hoping the board dig deep and bring another right-back to the club this summer – for Sam’s sake as much as ours.