Let’s be honest, we were all pretty disappointed following the January transfer window.
Despite selling wanta-way Diafra Sakho, the never-quite-got-aproper-run-at-it Andre Ayew and loaning out three of our ‘great hopes for the future’ – Reece Oxford, Reece Burke and Antonio Martinez – we only brought in Jordan Hugill from Preston.
It left us with an smaller squad than we had ended December with and hadn’t addressed the major issues within the side, namely the need to lower the average age of our starting eleven, add pace and fi nd a solid central midfi elder who could provide competition to Kouyate and Noble.
Couple that with revelations about an alleged ‘no more Africans’ transfer policy and Arthur Masuaku’s ill advised impersonation of El Hadji Diouf, and its safe to say that West Ham related social media did not make for happy reading.
But we needn’t have worried. David’s Sullivan and Moyes had an ace in up their sleeves. On February 8, we announced the signing of Patrice Evra on a short term deal.
Evra, winner of 19 career honours and the undisputed King of Instagram.
But, aside from an illustrious past and an Instagram following seven times greater than our club account (3.8 million vs. 509,000), what does the Frenchman really bring to the squad?
The obvious answer is experience. He made 379 appearances for Manchester United over a nine year spell, winning nine major honours.
He followed that with two seasons and two Serie A titles for Juventus as well as reaching his fifth Champions League final with the Turin giants.
He has represented France more than 80 times, played at numerous World Cups and played as part of the side that finished runners up in Euro 2016.
It is safe to say he is probably one of the most decorated players to pull on the West Ham shirt in recent memory. And that experience and winning mentality brings with it other desirable qualities.
Behind the smile and joker image on social media is a man who hates to lose. He is a consummate professional.
He is a leader. He has captained Manchester United, Marseilles and France during his career. He expects and demands success and application from his teammates but he is a good character to have in the dressing room.
He speaks five different languages which can be useful in today’s multicultural sides.
Paul Pogba, who knows Evra from his first stint at United, their time together for Juventus as well as the French national team, said: ‘I have always looked up to Patrice Evra. He’s family, he’s always looked after me, helped me and given me advice.
‘He’s someone on the pitch who is very serious and very professional, yet away from the pitch he’s a brother and someone you can have a laugh with – as you’ve seen on our videos on Instagram!
‘He’s someone very important for a football team and for a club, and as a person he’s someone who can help you a lot.’
For years our squad has been void of any leaders other than Noble. The signing of Evra has certainly helped address that issue.
The aforementioned Instagram account, his ‘Motivational Mondays’ videos and his famous #ILoveThisGame line, isn’t exactly a bad thing either.
Seeing Patrice dance around in a panda suit, singing along to Bob Marley or driving around in a cab that he borrowed – in a much more acceptable way than the West Brom players – makes a welcome change from our PR carcrashes.
A player expressing how grateful he is to be playing the game we all love, is also very refreshing. His positive outlook, experience and his acute professionalism likewise make him a good role model for our other French left back.
Arthur Masuaku, before his ban, was one of the bright sparks of another thus far dull season.
Under the tutelage of Evra, he could learn to add defensive solidity to his evident attacking qualities and blossom into a player truly worthy of his King Arthur nickname.
But then, we have had older players before, whose expertise was meant to help bring on younger players.
Alvaro Arbeloa, and to a lesser degree Pablo Zabaleta, were signed with half an eye on mentoring and improving Sam Byram. There is little evidence either had any success in doing so.
An additional downside to signing a player of such vast experience is the age that comes with the wisdom.
Evra is 36 years old, and similarly to his fellow full back Pablo Zabaleta – whilst the qualities remain, the pace that is so desperately needed in the modern game is gone.
Evra has the further issue of having not played any football for over three months following his ban for an altercation with a fan.
There is also an argument that we don’t need another left back/wing back. Yes Masuaku picked up a six game ban at the end of January, but Cresswell could have been moved there and the impressive and promising Declan Rice could have slotted in as part of our centre back trio.
Now he is fit, Michail Antonio could also be asked to do a job there for a few games. Alternatively we could revert to a back four, play Cresswell in his favoured position and actually look to attack sides.
Regardless, given his likely wages, Evra seems an expensive player to sign just to act as cover for a few games. It’s possible the injury crisis at the time, and a desire to please fans bemoaning a lack of signings, hurried the board’s hand somewhat.
Either way, Evra is a Hammer until the end of the season. Let’s hope that we don’t break his love for the game and that he gives us some reasons to love him a little bit too.