We’ve become so accustomed to the transfer windows being open in January and the summer over the last few years, that as fans we’ve grown to fear the exodus of players who we really need to keep hold of.
This year is a little different, obviously. There hasn’t quite been the same anxious feelings, partly because of a positive end to the 19/20 season, and partly because people have other things on their minds!
However, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that the Hammers have let Jordan Hugill go to Norwich for an officially undisclosed fee, believed to be around £3million plus a £2million add on.
Interestingly, it was reported that this exact deal was rejected a few days before it was confirmed. But with Moyes needing to sell in order to go shopping, the ball was firmly in the Canaries’ court.
It’s fair to say West Ham are heading into unknown territory this season, with David Moyes at the helm from the start of the campaign. He seems to have a vision on growing not just the team, but the club too.
This is quite the opposite story to when Moyes originally signed Hugill in January 2018. The boss spoke of his “long-term plan” with his new signing, leading many to believe that meant the then 26-year-old would be saved to play in the Championship with West Ham the following season, should the club be relegated.
Jordan went on to make just three substitute appearances for the Hammers, totalling 22 minutes on the pitch. Thankfully, the predicted relegation did not follow.
There’s no doubt that Hugill is a grafter – the early stages of his playing career were far from glamorous.
He was 21 before he made it to the dizzy heights of League One with Port Vale and even then took a loan move to the Conference to gain playing time.
He hovered between League Two, League One and the Championship until his move to east London was settled. Most of his previous managers had described Jordan as a ‘goal scorer’ and his record often proved that point.
Apart from goal droughts at West Ham and in his first season at Preston (both only three appearances), his worst goal to game ratio came in his second season at Preston, scoring a goal every 10 games. Throughout his career, he’s scored on average in a quarter of all his appearances (56 in 223).
His style as a physical presence up-front has served him well, with many managers signing Hugill for that purpose.
In fact, on signing for Norwich he claimed: ‘I’m a big, physical presence who will batter a defender around, so quite old school, but I’m also a very powerful striker who can get in the box and on the end of things.’
Perhaps this is why Moyes seemingly told the striker he wouldn’t get a lot of playing time this season should he stay in east London.
Antonio, whilst not quite the “battering” type, is a big man to aim at and if he’s fit for most of this season will be the preferred muscle in the team.
Add Haller into the mix and Moyes was left with a dilemma of giving a player in his late-twenties respectable playing time or sticking to a format he is confident can work out.
Upsetting the applecart after a strong end to a season, rolling quickly in to a new one is a fine balancing act for any manager.
Will we miss Jordan Hugill? No, not really. We can’t miss what we never really had.
However, he’s said himself that he wants to prove to the footballing world that David Moyes was right to sign him in the first place.
He wants to do that by achieving promotion to the Premier League with Norwich.
This means buckle up for a high scoring season for Hugill, which may leave us thinking “here’s what we could have won”. But we shouldn’t dwell on that.
It does seem that Jordan has something to offer at Championship level, with 42 of his 56 league goals coming from the second tier. In hindsight, Moyes’ rumoured plan to keep him as an asset for post-relegation may have been shrewd business.
Several members of the media have pointed out how good a signing for Norwich this is, both for value and potential, so they’re lucky to have Hugill.
But with an important season coming up for West Ham (aren’t they all?) it’s time to kick on with a well-bedded in manager and hopefully a full squad of players who know one another well. For Jordan Hugill, this was the right move at the right time.