It’s been quite a season for West Ham so far – virtually safe from relegation in January, a hard-working and committed team, and a generally settled feel around the club – is this really West Ham United?
Of course, the settled nature of the side means that some of the players on the fringes of the squad are not getting in, and some of the youth need to be able to move to gain match-day experience.
West Ham are doing well, but not all the squad have been able to join the party, and have been moved out on loan.
So, let’s see how the players who are away from the club at the moment are getting on.
Felipe Anderson (midfielder, Porto)
I ordered a Chinese takeaway on New Years Eve. When I eventually got it, It looked really good, but then, as we started to munch on the food, we realised it was undercooked and pricey, I had to wait two hours for it to turn up, and it was a massive disappointment.
Felipe Anderson is the footballing equivalent of that Chinese takeaway.
It’s heart-breaking, really. When we signed him, he was the bee’s knees. Remember when he was whipping up the wing for us, ripping defences apart? Skipping past players for fun? Scoring goals? What on earth happened?
When he left West Ham on loan, he said he is ‘fulfilling his dream’ of playing Champions League football by heading to Porto, vowing to ‘come back stronger’, and admitting that he hadn’t come close to reaching the levels that he did in his first season at the club.
Sadly, it seems to be a case of different club, same outcome. The die was cast when, early on into his loan spell, Porto boss Sergio Conceicao said that Anderson had to ‘work harder’.
After coming on as a substitute in his first match away to Sporting CP, he’s only made two substitution appearances in 10 games, not even making the matchday squad for six of those.
And as for fulfilling the dream of playing Champions League football? He’s had 27 minutes of game time in six matches.
We all hope that Felipe Anderson can return to the player that he seemed to be in his first season at West Ham, but if he is to return to West Ham a rejuvenated player, something has to change, and change dramatically.
Xande Silva (attacking winger, Aris Thessaloniki)
Now here is a player who is virtually the complete opposite to Anderson. Alexandre Nascimento Costa Silva, or Xande Silva to you and me, is just 23 and attacks on the right wing.
He signed for West Ham’s academy in August 2018 and in his first match in Premier League 2 in 2018/19, memorably scored a debut hat-trick against Tottenham Hotspur. Good man.
He’s made 15 appearances for his loan club Aris in Greece, having had a run of fixtures in which he has started. He’s been impressing on the right flank, and looks as if slowly but surely he is making his presence felt within the side.
Early indications are that he could return to West Ham as a useful attacking threat.
Olatunji Akinola (defender, Leyton Orient)
Another one to watch, and long considered one of the Academy’s brightest prospects, central defender Akinola has certainly been in the thick of the action in his current season-long loan spell at League Two promotion-chasing Leyton Orient, featuring regularly in the first team and doing his bit to help the Os climb the table.
Injuries have been unfortunate for Akinola. In January 2019, he broke his leg in a big win for the under-23s over Manchester City, and he remained on the sidelines for a year, before then returning to the side, completing an unbeaten league campaign.
We eagerly await what Akinola can offer when he returns to West Ham at the start of next season.
Winston Reid (defender, Brentford)
I can’t let this feature go by without reference to a personal hero of mine.
Winston Reid will forever remain one of my favourite players – you don’t need me to remind you that he scored the last ever goal at the Boleyn Ground (that will be a pub quiz question one day).
Injuries, however, have taken their toll – a serious knee injury derailing his West Ham career – and he is now working his way back to fitness at Brentford, having found it difficult to force his way into Moyes’ first eleven, and only making one appearance at Premier League 2 level this season.
We will keep an eye on him. It’s very early days at Brentford but every West Ham supporter will be wishing him the best and look forward to seeing him don the claret and blue again in the future.