What should West Ham’s transfer agenda be this January?
We all talk of the West Ham way. It’s mostly used in the context of the way the game is played. On the floor, rarely in the air and exciting. That has recently been challenged by Big Sam’s tactics and the West Ham way is under threat. But don’t worry, there’s still one thing about the West Ham way we can all rely on. Injuries.
Loads of them, all at once. Again. Luckily we’ve been cursed by the injury virus so close to the January transfer window. However, the luck runs out quickly when the subject of funding comes in to play.
After promotion and during the summer, Big Sam made some shrewd signings and claimed his business was pretty much done for the season. He felt we had a squad big enough and good enough to compete again in the Premier League and, at first, he was spot on.
But long term injuries to Ricardo Vaz Te, Andy Carroll, Mohamed Diame and Alou Diarra have hit us hard, as well as the short term losses of George McCartney and Yossi Benayoun.
Suddenly our squad is thin to the bone, so much so that Sam Allardyce was forced to name just six substitutes in the 0-0 draw away to West Brom last weekend, four of which were young, unexperienced academy graduates.
One thing that will hinder us, as mentioned earlier, is funding. As a club still in £80 million debt, we’re not in a position to start throwing money around, which has both its pros and cons depending on what way you look at it.
We can be safe in the knowledge that we won’t see pointless, injury prone signings like in the past, especially under Gold, Sullivan and Allardyce. New arrivals will be well thought out and only to strengthen the squad and not just for the sake of just bringing in a new player.
A striker, a midfielder and a defender are all top priority, while it has been rumoured that Allardyce is looking at bringing in a replacement for Jussi Jaaskelainen. It is, of course, common knowledge that money must be spent in order to remain in the Premier League. But with our finances still in a precarious position, we must rule out spending big money on a player who is only going to use us a stepping stone for a bigger, better club.
There are many deals to be had out there this January, most notably Celtic’s Gary Hooper who could be available for a mere £2.5 million. While we should be looking to take a leaf out of Swansea’s book when looking abroad. There must be plenty more gems across Europe who are on par with Michu and available for peanuts.
In defence, a right-back and a central defender to act as cover for James Tomkins, James Collins and Winston Reid are needed. The fear is that, if one of those were to get injured, we’d be pretty weak at the back. Ideally, a player who can play both right and left-back as cover would be welcome, although those players are becoming increasingly rare in today’s market.
However, aside from some new arrivals to add strength in depth at Upton Park, Allardyce needs to ensure some of the club’s current top performers are tied down on improved contracts. Rumours are surfacing that Winston Reid is on the verge of signing a new deal, which is hugely encouraging because he has to be one of the most improved players at West Ham over the last year.
Mohamed Diame is another player who must be made to sign a new deal with that ridiculous £3.5 million release clause removed. Clubs must stop agreeing to those terms in order to protect themselves and West Ham are in huge danger of losing one of the best midfielders they’ve had at the club for years.
Apart from Frederic Piquionne, there aren’t any players who should be allowed to leave the club in January because they all have a part to play in the second half of this season, and have been so impressive in the Hammers’ impressive start to the season.
It’s either going to be an exciting transfer window for West Ham or a hugely disappointing one. If the right players are signed and Allardyce gets his targets we can look forward to a similar second half of the season as the first. The most encouraging thing, though, is quality of players that are set to return from injury in new year.
That will, no doubt, be playing on Allardyce’s mind when he goes shopping in January.
What do you think? Should Sam Allardyce take a careful approach to the transfer market, or should he try and spend as much as he can in order to add strength in depth at West Ham?