Sebastien Haller, Robert Snodgrass and Winston Reid left, Jesse Lingard and Frederick Alves arrived, and Said Benrahma made his move permanent, what were your thoughts on our January transfer window?
David Meagher: The January window is the worst value market going and a place for the forlorn and the desperate, neither of which describe West Ham right now. Sorry to see Snoddy go, I think he’s a good utility player. Haller was charmless, slow and had a poor first touch. The scout who discovered him should be shot! Reidy has run out of time, but a great servant. Maybe Odubeko can be a useful back up for Mikey, but Moyes needs to give the kid some game time.
Meirion Williams: I have to say I’m a little disappointed. I believe that Lingard is an excellent loan signing but there is no option to buy. With just over a year left on his contract if he continues in the same vein as he did against Villa, it’s pretty clear we will not be in the running for his signature at the end of the season. Benrahma seems to be getting better with every game so I’m happy he has signed. As for Alves, I know little about him but have a feeling he may be yet another also ran. I loved Snoddy and would have liked him to stay. As for Reid, his time was up and with four solid centre backs in front of him, he would have had zero minutes. As for Haller, I have mixed emotions. I think it’s foolish to go with no strikers for the rest of the season, Antonio is not a striker but then Haller offered very little and seemed to hate wearing the shirt. I feel we should have had a forward lined up before Haller was given his marching orders. With Costa and King available, I cannot see why we didn’t go for one of those.
Brian Penn: To say Haller was a letdown is an understatement. Ten goals in 48 league appearances is a poor return for a £45million striker; and to sell him on at a loss? It’s like getting a smack in the nose swiftly followed by a boot to the groin. Some things just aren’t meant to be. I’m surprised Snodgrass has gone and sad that Reid never made it back. Lingard is quality but as Meirion said, there is no option to buy, so only provides temporary comfort. Glad Benrahma is now permanent, a player with real potential. As for Alves, a Danish under 21 international; who can say, one for the future?
Greg Richardson; I would echo the views regarding Haller, Lingard, Reid and Snoddy. The one positive in my view is that Moyes was able to resist any pressure to accept a ‘Sully Special’. He obviously had a list of strikers that the board couldn’t get and has said: ‘Fine I’ll work with what I’ve got then’, rather than accepting someone who is a less suitable fit or quality. That has got to be a good sign, just a shame the board couldn’t find the money for one of his targets.
Spurs, Man City, Man United, Arsenal, Wolves and Leicester are coming up in our next seven league games. How are you feeling about these games? How many points?
DM: We are on a great run, and Liverpool apart, we are playing well and can have a go at anyone as long as we show ambition. We looked overawed by Liverpool and paid the price. Except for Man City, we need to go toe-to-toe with these sides and we can get results. Keeping the top four dream alive will require at least 10 points from these games, but we are well set up defensively and sharp up front so fingers crossed!
MW: It’s a difficult one as every one of those teams looks a tough prospect. I worry about how we performed, or didn’t perform against Liverpool. Antonio is the key; Keep him fit and I believe we could beat every one of those teams. If he is injured, there is simply no backup. I would be happy with a maximum 18 points but fear it could be single figures.
BP:Always difficult to predict such is the screwball nature of this season. We are playing well and recovered quickly from defeat which is always encouraging. Having said that, playing a mixture of top four teams and London derbies is never going to be easy. I think 10 points from those six games is a reasonable ambition, but don’t think we are going to get much joy from the Manchester games though.
GR: Our results against the ‘top six’ are the only negatives from this season. I think Newcastle on the opening day is our only defeat to anyone who isn’t traditionally one of the big boys. I think we can beat all of them (bar City) but like Meirion says, I think we could see a single figure return.
Do you think we’d have had such a positive season and a half had fans been allowed in the stadiums since Project Restart? Do you think we have a negative impact on our players at home?
DM: it’s a worrying question as we have not been the most content club in recent seasons and frustrations with the board have at times affected the atmosphere during games. However, I think that the impact of fans is more on referees than players which, along with VAR, has softened home advantage. Ultimately, we have our most physical and mobile side in years which i hope is the main reason.
MW: Home advantage has disappeared this year and I am certain that things would have been very different if fans had been in attendance. We have a habit at the soulless bowl of having a negative effect on the team when we fall behind. I think it’s been a major factor in the inconsistency of all teams at home. Brighton would never have beaten Liverpool at Anfield if the Reds had the Kop roaring them on.
BP: Playing behind closed doors is like staging every game at a neutral venue. It’s a double edged sword, fans can roar the players on to greater heights, or might completely rip the heart out of a team. The atmosphere at some games can be poisonous which must affect players. Frankly, I don’t think we would have played as well with the fans in attendance.
GR: As others have said, I think it’s likely that we would have gotten on the players’ backs a bit more during the tougher moments. I’m not sure we would have come from behind/bounced back from conceding as well as we have done this season, for example. That said, I don’t think that is exclusively an ‘us’ thing. I think it’s true across all clubs.
Who do you think currently looks most likely to win the league, make the top four and drop into the Championship?
DM: Man City are starting to pull away. We will need good fortune to displace any of Liverpool, Man Utd and Leicester from the top four. If Antonio stays fit we can maybe get 5th or 6th. The bottom three are well adrift and look doomed.
MW: it really is wide open this year but I think it’s down to the two Manchester teams. Liverpool have become inconsistent and lack defensive depth. I would like to see Manure win it over Citie but it’s going to be close. Fourth spot is interesting but I lean towards Leicester just because I don’t want Tottenham in that top four. As for the bottom, again so much inconsistency but it’s already looking like the Blades, Fulham and dare I say it WBA and an end to Allardyce’s record of never being relegated
BP: It’s the most open title race in years, I don’t feel anyone will run away with it. Man City look best placed to win it but I would make no assumptions at this stage. However, I think the top four will be Man City, Liverpool, Spurs and Leicester nicking the last spot. We will finish in the top 10 while Fulham, West Brom and Sheffield United will get relegated.
GR: I think City win the league, their strength in depth is better than anyone’s and Pep had more flexibility to adapt to loss of personnel than Klopp or OGS. Liverpool, United and Leicester will make up the rest of the top four as I think Jose lacks a plan at Spurs other than ‘give it to Harry’. Chelsea look lively again though. Bottom three, I think it’s as you are with WBA, Fulham and Sheffield United although if Fulham can turn draws into wins and Sheffield continue to find form, Newcastle are at risk in my opinion.