We must strengthen or we might just do a Sunderland

We may have finished in 11th place but we were really lucky it wasn’t lower. We could’ve easily ended up in Watford’s place of 17th if one or two results had gone against us.

We may have finished in 11th place but we were really lucky it wasn’t lower. We could’ve easily ended up in Watford’s place of 17th if one or two results had gone against us.

My fear is now if we go into next season with the side we have got with the addition of a few mediocre players, we will be in real trouble. If we get dragged into a relegation fight early on, we could end up like Sunderland because I don’t think there’s a lot of fight in this team.

I’m not sure they would scrap their way out of it like Swansea. Sorry to be doom and gloom but that’s how I feel. Our finish this season really flattered us and it just shows that the battle to avoid relegation is not just four or five teams anymore – it’s 10 teams.

After the season we had before when it was much better and the atmosphere was great, we expected more this year and it just didn’t work out. We really should have kicked on from the final season at Upton Park but some of the players we brought in last summer were just not good enough. It’s always going to be a struggle without quality signings.

In every position, except goalkeeper, it felt like we had a list of five players to go for with the player topping each list being the best player and a name we’ve heard of but we settled with the fifth player on the list every time. It’s just not good enough. We need to make good signings this summer and Pablo Zabaleta was a great start. He is a top class footballer who likes to go forward and scored important goals for Man City

Yes, he is a bit old but these days it doesn’t matter too much because these players really look after themselves. In my day, when you hit 30, you’d be finished in most cases but now you can play until you are 40, and there’s no reason why Zabaleta can’t play for West Ham for five years.

We need more signings of this quality. Some of the players we bought before, we’d never heard of them and when you saw them, you could see why. That’s not the way to try to improve a football club. We need players with quality. We also need a leader on the pitch.

Mark Noble has been a wonderful servant to West Ham but he gives the ball away too much and is not quick enough anymore. He is our captain and is West Ham through and through but not a leader when you compare him to the likes of Billy Bonds. He was a leader. If you were having a bad time, he would put his arm around you and get you going. He would take charge and get everyone going. We’ve not had someone like this for years.

As great as I’m sure Slaven is in the changing room, once the players get on the pitch, he has no control over them so a leader is an important signing for me – and it doesn’t have to be a homegrown player to know what it means to lead West Ham.

I actually don’t think we will have homegrown players coming through the ranks anymore. Th is is a real shame when you look at the players we have produced over the years.

But managers aren’t interested in players coming through ranks. Their jobs oft en rely on six games in a row – lose them all and you could be out. To put a youngster in this situation is not something they want to do.

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