I t looked as though David Moyes had got West Ham to turn the corner but the thrashings at Liverpool and Swansea have brought them back down to earth with a bump. What has gone wrong?
Emily Pulham: Well, let me count the ways. We keep selling our players. We end transfer windows with less players than we started with. We sold our joint-top goalscorer to a relegation rival. We sold a centre back outside of the transfer window and didn’t replace him. We don’t even have a full team sheet, and it’s not helped by Moyes making poor team selections from what’s left. We are not future-proofing the team. We are frog marching towards relegation.
David Meagher: To add to what Emily’s said, our defence has lost it’s way again. A big concern is that Winston Reid doesn’t seem to be the rock that we have come to expect. Injuries aside, he does not have the same reliable presence as in previous seasons and we look unsure and nervous at the back. It’s worrying that the two thumpings have also had an impact on our goal difference. In such a tight league, this is like losing an extra point.
Brian Penn: I half expected a pasting against Liverpool, who would have taken most teams apart based on current form. More worrying was the total capitulation against Swansea. We were absolutely clueless and just handed the game to one of our closest rivals. This result is worse than the 3-0 home defeat to Brighton. There is a lack of desire and urgency in our play; David Moyes needs to be more vociferous as the players are coasting.
Lucy Woolford: To the untrained eye, it seems as simple as saying that what is wrong is horrific defending and not taking chances and scoring goals. I guess football is that simple, in a way! My honest answer to this question is ‘I don’t know’. Lack of confidence? Lack of ability? An aging squad? Fatigue? Could be all of the above, but it needs addressing quickly.
Can you ever remember West Ham having a worse transfer window than they did in January?
EP: No, but ask me again after summer 2018.
DM: When you are relying on the January window to solve problems then you are in real trouble as unless you splash big money, most of the time you are just taking on other club’s problems. I think our performance in transfer windows over the past two seasons has been terrible and the proposed change in our transfer team is much needed. We seem obsessed with getting value rather than focusing on quality first.
BP: I agree with David, we never cover ourselves in glory during the transfer window. The signings eventually made smacked of desperation. Hugill is an unknown quantity while Joao Mario felt like a sticking plaster as he was only signed on loan. We could have signed Leander Dendoncker, who would have been perfect. Quite simply, the purse strings need to be loosened.
LW: We’ve had a few frustrating windows both in the summer and January, but we generally make one signing that makes us think there’s something to look forward to. This window had nothing to offer, but I’m not at all surprised. How can anyone expect a manager on such a short-term contract to be bothered building a squad? Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.
Were the club right to sell Andre Ayew?
EP: No. He wasn’t setting the world alight but he was our joint top-scorer and selling him to a relegation rival was a criminally bad decision. He set up one of Swansea’s many goals against us, and don’t tell me hindsight is a beautiful thing as we all saw this coming.
DM: I couldn’t disagree more with Emily. We were absolutely right to sell him. We paid over his value in what seemed a desperate effort to bring in a forward after our high-profile failures trying to sign a top quality striker. He has pace but a poor first touch and lacks composure on the ball. You never had a sense that he might change the game when coming on as a substitute. He is not a true striker and we have plenty of attacking midfielders.
BP: I always liked Ayew and was surprised when we sold him back to Swansea. With no shortage of attacking options, we could afford to offload him. But the club may regret letting him go as he could score the odd goal. Ayew complained that we never gave him sufficient game time, and there may be some truth in this. So is there any point in keeping a player who’s not entirely happy?
LW: It was a strange move. He obviously wasn’t happy with the chances he was getting, so if his attitude wasn’t right then we were right to let him go. But he was a good option to have on the bench. He has ability and looked lively at times, he just needed consistency. I think there would have been no harm in keeping him, at least until the summer.
Be honest, had you heard of Jordan Hugill before we were linked with him and what do you make of the signing?
EP: I still haven’t heard of Jordan Hugill. Look, I think it’s a good idea to sign a younger player as he can grow into a role at West Ham but it’s neither right nor kind to sign a relative unknown and expect him to turn into Aguero and save our season. It’s cruel on him, especially as he’s barely getting any playing time, and I hope that it doesn’t derail what could be a promising career for him.
DM: The reason that we hadn’t heard of him was because he is not that prolific. Ten goals in 29 appearances for Preston this season makes for a slightly worse strike rate than ex-Hammer Sean Maguire – five in 14 – who plays for the same club. Moyes likes a physical presence up front but his future beyond the summer is far from certain, all of which does not sit very well.
BP: I’d never heard of him, but players in the Championship often fly under the radar, and you just hope David Moyes has spotted a rough diamond. Having said that, £10 million seems a lot to pay for a striker who hasn’t been scoring goals for fun; a ratio of one goal every four games for Preston isn’t what I expected. However, my reservations will soon disappear if he starts banging them in.
LW: Like the rest, I’d never heard of him. When it comes to signings you know nothing about, you have to have a certain element of trust in scouts, manager and board that they’ve noticed something that will add to the squad.
A proposed protest march against the board for the Burnley game was cancelled. Would you have attended?
EP: I’m still planning on taking a stroll around the area on the day – exercise is a key part of my pre-wedding diet, you see! It’s essential that attention is drawn to this mismanagement of West Ham United in a peaceful yet noticeable way. The club, the fans and the players all deserve better than watching assets be stripped away left, right and centre. I prefer a march over boycotting games as I paid for my ticket, and I said till I die, so I’ll still be singing at the top of my lungs – but I won’t be there for the board. I’ll be there for West Ham United.
DM: Yes, partly out of curiosity but also to show support for efforts to give fans a stronger voice in the affairs of the club. A big concern, for me, was that it would’ve only needed one or two to get over-excited and the media would focus on that instead of the message that’s intended. The incident with David Gold after the Swansea game demonstrates that some fans can’t behave themselves well enough.
BP: I disagree with David. I don’t think protest marches really do any good. There are issues at most clubs likely to rouse fans’ anger and we’ve got plenty of scope for complaint. But if things were going well on the pitch they wouldn’t be bothered about demos or petitions. The organisers meant well and obviously love the club, as we all do. But going to the board mob-handed won’t do us any favours.
LW: I’m not generally one for protests. I’m always mindful of the team and we know how much negativity from fans affects them – it’s the last thing the players need. I always think if people want to protest then just stop buying tickets. Hit them in the pocket, that’s the only language they’ll understand. B