Written by: Nick Moore
“But no manager can ever be a hundred per cent sure about a signing: his fingers are always crossed.” Ron Greenwood
Suddenly having just about clambered on to the lifeboat at the end of the longest season the transfer window is open.
Strangely, for us, the last window was a roaring success. Darren Randolph fixed a problem which was in danger of blowing our house down. If Fabianski’s form does continue to decline we now have a realistic option. Even better Roberto won’t play for us ever again.
Bowen turned about to be a mobile hard working player who contributed key assists and one great finish.
But the best of the three signings was Tomas Soucek. He plugged a hole that was nearly as bad as the Roberto problem, and had gone on for longer. We were way too easy to play through in midfield. Suddenly we look more solid. In an early game he ran further than any West Ham player had for six years. This was particularly important for a team who were consistently being outrun by the opposition. Work rate is not everything but it’s hard to win if you are always being outrun as we were earlier in the season.
In addition he scared the Chelsea defence to death at set pieces and scored a great, brave goal in our cup final against Watford. This was an example of a great use of the transfer window as Soucek as well as being a fine player sorted a gap in our team. It’s no coincidence Soucek’s arrival has also triggered even more development from Declan and an upsurge in Mark Noble’s form.
Soucek and Rice as the engine room of our side is a great base to build on. The only cautious note to sound is that if either gets injured we lack cover.
Often this window is an exciting time for fans when we can dream and anything is possible. We have got a great list of players that we are interested in and have scouted. Some players even play in positions we need!
If only we can sign someone magical … then of course the season starts. There is of course a catch. There is no budget.
A lot of clubs are struggling with holes in their budgets. The lack of income caused by the lockdown will have an impact at all levels of the game. The successful last window was because we were desperate but was not budgeted for. And we have rightly completed the signing of Soucek.
No budget? No problem, there are lots of players we can sell – but who will want to buy them?
Will clubs be lining up to offer Jack Wilshire more than he is currently trousering?
Perhaps the player they are looking for to take them to the next level is someone to jump out of a clothes dryer. Felipe at least had one good season but who will buy him on the basis of this season? Lanzini is not the attractive package he was before his last injury. And we could go through a lot of the squad. Almost everyone who isn’t a regular starter in the last period – and a couple who are – will be up for sale at ‘the right price’.
We have, in all honesty, wasted huge sums of money in recent years. Even the players who have played well for us have turned out to be trouble – Payet and Arnautovic are the best examples. There are a lot of other players who have not justified their fees or their wages. It says a lot for our recruitment that our two best right backs this season – Johnson and Ngakia – were players plucked out of the under 21s, while senior players on much larger wages failed.
Some of these players will be unsellable. One job for the coaching staff will be to work with those who remain to get some value out of them. We also need to make good decisions about our younger home grown players. Silva, Diangana, Holland and Johnson deserve opportunities on the base of what they have shown so far. I thought Johnson was great and did all the defensive things our full backs haven’t been doing. I hope he stays fit. It’s important that new signings don’t block their progress and actually offer things we don’t already have.
In recent history we have neglected the defence and midfield in favour of repeating the same mistakes over and over again with strikers and attacking midfielders.
So with no budget don’t expect too much activity and keep your fingers crossed for more Souceks and less of what we usually do.