After talk of signing 1 or 2 forwards, new chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan actually financed the signing of three; all on the last day of the January transfer window. The men brought in are all good players on paper, but all have lost their way a little this season, explaining why West Ham managed to get their hands on them.
32 year old South African, Benni McCarthy scored 37 goals in 109 games during his 3 and half Premier League seasons with Blackburn, as well as being one of few to have scored 20 goals in a season in the top Portuguese division while at Porto. Despite his excellent record, McCarthy has scored a disappointing total of just 1 goal in 14 games this season. Allardyce accused him of being lazy, but he tends to make a good impact with his natural finishing in his first season, before sometimes going off the boil. He has a perfect 1 in 2 goal record in his first season at previous new clubs, but in subsequent seasons this drops off on average to worse than 1 in 3.
26 year old Egyptian, Mido has scored 22 goals in 85 Premier League games, since joining Spurs in January 2005. As a teenager at Ajax he had a better than 1 in 2 scoring record, but has since failed to live up to the talent and stick with a club for any real length of time. Mido only scored 2 goals in his opening season for all three of his previous Premier League clubs, so may not be the real answer to West Ham’s immediate scoring problems. Likely to be used as the target men on days when Carlton Cole is unavailable, but should get a spot ahead of former Villarreal striker Franco.
29 year old Brazilian, Ilan has 49 goals in 160 games in European football, all in the French league. He has only scored 2 goals this season, in 12 Ligue 1 games. He’s not a target man, but has a very good touch and swift movement, with the skills to run with the ball and get the odd snap shot away.
With Carlton Cole returning soon from injury, he would be expected to partner McCarthy, with the South African performing a similar job to Franco, though with a greater chance of goals. Diamanti may play in attacking midfield or behind a loan striker, and his cover would likely be Ilan. Mido could play upfront as Cole’s makeshift replacement to hold the ball up, as could youngster Nouble if others were injured. After going on loan to Palace, youngster Freddy Sears looks to have returned just as he is no longer needed, while Zavon Hines is unlikely to get much more of a run-out this season as West Ham become more desperate for points and rely on more seasoned performers.
If West Ham are to stay up they need goalscorers, and Cole and McCarthy are the most consistent in the squad at hitting the back of the net. Though Diamanti has done well, he would arguably be better used in the current squad as an impact substitute, as in a different way would Mido, as a target to lump the ball up to.
West Ham’s next three crucial games will give them with a real chance of scoring some vital points with home games against Birmingham and Hull. It is crucial for Zola that his strikers capitalise on the chances that will doubtless be created against the two sides in particular who are alongside them in the fight to avoid relegation and all the financial problems that entails.