A fat chequebook won’t mask the lack of a scouting system

Throwing money at the team is important but you need to spend it wisely

It is interesting to see how in a relatively quick time three recent signings have become some of the first names on the team sheet. 

In January we signed both Jarrod Bowen and, then on loan, Tomas Soucek. Both players were joined by Vladimir Coufal in the recent window. 

Being a success in a claret and blue shirt is not the only thing the three have in common, one other thing is that to most of us all three were relative unknowns before they signed. 

With a combined cost of the three at approximately the cost of one Sebastien Haller, it does seem like good business and it may seem that finally we are getting our transfer signings right.

It is disappointing to note that our record two signings have not exactly been a success in east London. 

Recent appearances by Haller has shown him clearly not up to Premier League standards and as for Anderson, he is now plying his trade on loan elsewhere, and I don’t expect him to do a Snodgrass and return. 

It has been noted that Bowen, Soucek and Coufal are cut-price bargains and I guess if they continue in theIr current form they just may be that, but it has to still be seen as a significant amount of money to spend on three players with zero Premier League experience. 

There is of course the old saying of ‘one swallow doesn’t make a summer’ and that can be true of many a West Ham signing.

I guess we can only judge all three by their second season. Will it be a success or will it be a failure (Issa Diop anyone?!) only time will tell. 

The current question though is with our current squad do the performances of all three now show to the whole Premier League that bargains are the better options than high-costing big name players?

There is one clear fact in our club’s case, when you go shopping in the middle tier of the transfer market there are risks.

Players can be a bust or a success and in West Ham’s case they have tended to be the former.

Despite promises of challenging the big four in the Premier League, it is a fact that we are no closer to that league placing than we were during the Boleyn years. 

To compare West Ham’s recent big money signings to those of other clubs is like comparing chalk and cheese, not even close. 

The two biggest busts are seemingly Haller and Anderson but let’s take a closer look at both players.

Sebastien cost the Hammers in the region of £45 million. During his time at FC Utrecht and Eintracht Frankfurt he averaged a goal every two games and so looked a pretty good bet to make a step up into the Premier League. 

However It is pretty clear what formation he works best in as particularly in Germany, where he partnered Luka Jovic upfront, it was clear he could not operate as the loan striker. 

So there is a case to say that it is not the player that has let West Ham down but West Ham who has let the player down.

For what seems like an eternity supporters have been crying out for a forward partnership and we still seem a long way from that. 

As for Anderson, he was yet another unknown to many a West Ham supporter and had played for several seasons at Lazio with only Chelsea showing any interest from the Premier League, that was until West Ham came calling and opened the cheque book to the tune of £36 million.

This was a huge gamble, one which has failed to pay off. It is clear we paid significantly over the odds but I guess that is the West Ham way.  

What the two transfers also have in common is the lack of a good scouting network. Both were wanted by Pellegrini and in the manager, the board trusted their cash. 

A good scouting network would have no doubt shown the risks and the flaws. What we have now is a manager who has always operated with very little money at his disposal. 

Whether you like Moyes or not, he has always worked in these difficult situations and he is tight with his money, a canny Scot. 

And before anyone mentions Hugill, was he really a Moyes signing? 

So do I think that big money signings should be a thing of the past? The answer to me is no.

What is needed is a good scouting system which looks at all elements of a player’s game and not just how they are currently performing. 

A great scouting system will identify if the player is the right fit for the club and the league, big money or not. 

What we had at our club was virtually no scouting system and the one we had largely based on nepotism. 

I am not a Moyes fan but what we have now is a canny Scot with a group of assistants who know the Premier League and the type of player that can flourish in that environment. 

The bigger clubs have scouts who do just that, assess players on every aspect of their game. 

In American Football the college draft is a huge deal. Teams do not just draft players due to how they have played in college. 

They look at all aspects of that player’s game and then identify if they are the best fit for the club and the coaching system. 

Yes they still have the odd bust but they have more successes than failures. Until a club has a good scouting system there will always be gambles. 

Some will pay off others will not. For West Ham it is not a case that the big money transfers have failed, it is more a case of they were the wrong fit. Have the players let the club down or did the club let the players down? I’ll let you decide the answer to that question. 

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