The Ex Files: West Ham search high and low for a forward during the window

We made strong enquiries for a number of forwards

Said Benrahma (WHU) at the EPL match West Ham United v Burnley, at the London Stadium, London, UK on 16th January, 2021. English Premier League matches are still being played behind closed doors because of the current COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, and government social distancing/lockdown restrictions.

So another window closes and my phone goes back to some form of normality without the constant texts and calls trying to piece together our transfer activity. 

As normal, it is fair to say we used our normal tactic. Identify a position that needs strengthening, forward in this case, have players that the manager wants, throw a load of other names at him that he could also get and put in a number of offers and see what happens – scattergun. 

So we made strong enquiries for a number of forwards including Boulaye Dia of Reims,  Youssef En-Nesyri of Sevilla and Hwang Hee-Chan of Leipzig to name but a few. 

This was like our central defender attempts in the summer where we bid for every man and his dog only to end up with Craig Dawson on loan from Watford – but what a signing he has now turned out to be!.

The difference between the summer window and now is that we did sign Dawson, whereas in January we signed nobody for the desired position unless you include Jesse Lingard. 

The manager has said in a number of press conferences that he seems him as able to play in midfield and in the ‘false 9’ position so perhaps should the inevitable Antonio injury happen, this will be the plan.

Now it depends on what camp you sit in. Some fans put the failure to sign another forward down to the board again, under bidding for players and not bringing in the players that Moyes has clearly identified.

Others blame Moyes for not wanting to gamble on alternatives unless he was entirely convinced on them. 

There is a shocking statistic about our forward signings under GSB and I think the manager may be right in waiting until the summer when the club can promise they can get forwards that they really want. 

Whilst I was gutted that we didn’t sign an out-and-out forward, we do have Antonio who has been outstanding there, Yarmolenko and Odubeko who can also play there, not even mentioning Lingard.

Obviously hindsight would have been great to have the benefit of, but we may be right to wait. 

Let’s go back to the signing of Lingard. Again, this brought mixed reviews from the fans.

Some see him as a “social media clown” who is more interested in his online persona than playing football. Others see him as a good player who was worth signing. I certainly sit in the latter camp on this one. 

In my opinion you do not play for one of the biggest clubs in the world for many years without having something about you. 

Many Manchester United managers have rated him highly and played him, as has the England manager.

The national team is arguably at a period where it has an abundance of young talent in many positions. The fact that Jesse was able to get in despite this shows to me what a player he can be.  

I do have the luxury of also writing this article after his amazing debut against Aston Villa. I honestly do not think he could have had a better start and reminded me of the last person to score two on his debut for us – Trevor Sinclair. 

If he can go on to mirror the impact that Tricky Trev had during his time at the club, he will be one hell of a signing.  

He has also apparently settled into the dressing room so well. Already establishing a good bond with the players including Fredericks and Rice.

I really hope we are able to keep him beyond this loan period. At the end of the season, he will only have one year left on his contract at Manchester United and I do hope that he will enjoy his time so much in east London that he will want to stay on beyond this. 

During the window, we also looked at signing some 18 year olds for a variety of positions and have also been monitoring a few youngsters at Derby County, a club which has  a number of financial difficulties.

Moyes is determined to start a project here, leading into his retirement, similar to what he achieved so successfully at Everton. 

It is fair to say the manager has done a brilliant job since being here both on and off the pitch.

If you look at his signings so far: Randolph, Bowen, Soucek, Coufal, Dawson, Benrahma, Lingard and Alves (the young Danish centre back picked up this window) you have to trust that the manager knows what he is doing.  

The transfer window is always a very busy time for me trying to break all the news over on our patreon site. 

My fear was that after the window had closed we would lose a lot of our new subscribers. 

Thankfully they have agreed that the content is worth the £5 a month and stuck around. 

We have many features that make the site worth the money but I am especially proud of our extra time podcast show where in the last month we interviewed: Julian Dicks, Ray Winstone, Steve Jones and Alan Taylor. 

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