Another embarrassing performance by our boys in claret and blue and a fifth loss from our first six Premier League fixtures. So what is the problem at the club?
Is it the world class stadium? No
Is it the segregation of fans? No
Is it the Manager’s ability? No
Is it the players’ ability? No
Is it Tony Henry’s fault? No
Is it Sullivan and Gold’s fault? No
So what is it then?!
I think I have come up with the diagnosis of why West Ham are not getting results.
To say we’ve had a terrible transfer window is ridiculous, we’ve done some good business in acquiring some top talent, but the problem is the variety of players from the leagues they have played in. I doubt that they have not yet adjusted to Premier League standard. Let’s look at the signings.
Havard Nordviet was a free transfer and signed from Borussia Monchengladbach – a former club captain who helped his team gain Champions League football for two consecutive seasons.
Although he was at Arsenal as a youth player, he went to the Bundesliga to play his domestic football. The Bundesliga is not the most naturally technically gifted league in comparison to the Premier League. The standard is scrappy but clinical, you don’t see teams waste chances and you don’t see many chances created.
Ashley Fletcher is a Manchester United youth product whose talents went on display at Barnsley and he made a name for himself in the Play-Off final, knocking out Millwall.
He arrived on a free transfer with compensation and he showed much promise, but has never really been tested at Premier League level – then again, if you’re battling for a spot on the Man United bench with an in form 17-year-old like Marcus Rashford, you have no real chance of getting in the team.
League One football is a significantly lower standard of football where you see older veterans of the game, mixed with youth prospects from their parent clubs and he was hardly prolific at that level – then again, neither was Harry Kane.
Sofiane Feghouli is another free transfer from Spanish giants Valencia.
Having previously played in Ligue 1, Bundesliga and La Liga, you could argue that he has plenty of experience to cement a place in the team. The La Liga is a slower paced game where his pace has been exaggerated during games.
There is no denying he has a sprint on him but in the Premier League, his pace is not as effective. He has been a crucial part of Algeria’s national team for the past four years, playing alongside Mahrez and Slimani, and his international performances also proved he is capable of making an impact.
He scored on his home debut for West Ham against NK Domzale and you would have hoped he got out of the traps running, but injury stalled his match fitness progress.
Gokhan Tore has been signed on a season long loan deal with a view to a permanent £12m deal. A former Chelsea youth product, he has played in Russia and in Turkey under Slaven on both occasions.
The Russian and Turkish leagues really do not concentrate on the defending aspect of the game, tracking back and offering deep services do not happen as the full-backs tend to stay back.
Tore has been used to playing a very attacking role but in the Premier League, you need to cover your defenders who overlap. This has been highly noticeable and considered as cheating the team, preventing two types of attacks.
Tore clearly has the ability to produce assists and Slaven is clearly a fan as he has signed him twice in the past four years.
Simone Zaza is a £4m loan deal which becomes permanent after featuring in 15 games. The total fee when activated could be £24m. The Italian has received some negative press from the recent Euro 2016 penalty debacle, and that has not done him any favours with his performances this season.
Coming from Juventus, he has more game time playing alongside fellow Italian Domenico Berardi in the colours of Sassuolo. Last season, after finishing his loan with Sassuolo, he opted against a move to West Ham and he stayed with Juventus to fight for a starting place after a good season away.
He barely made an impact, scoring a few goals, and the signing of Gonzalo Higuan spelled the end of his Juve career. In the Serie A, you get more time on the ball, so if you make a mistake you can use your strength and pace to reclaim the ball.
Zaza’s first touch has not been the greatest but he would normally make up for his mistakes. In the Premier League, there is no time to make amends and is easily getting caught out by his poor ball control.
Jonathan Calleri signed on a season loan deal from Maldonado in Uruguay. The highly thought of South American hitman clearly has big admirers in Europe, one of them being Spanish giants Barcelona.
Calleri does have an eye for goal; he wa the Copa Libertadores Golden Boot winner last season. Playing in tough Argentinean and Brazilian leagues for Boca Juniors and Sao Paolo he can withstand the toughness but with South American football, you get more chances to score.
Chances are few and far between in the Premier League and he is not as clinical as he wants to be in England.
Arthur Masuaku arrived in a £6m deal from Olympiacos. The young, strong French left-back has a vast amount of European experience with his club.
At domestic level, the Greek game is hardly the most talented of leagues on the continent, where the standard of football is quite poor. Due to the level of domestic football Arthur has experienced, the jump from that league to the Premier League is huge.
Edimilson Fernandes is a £5.5m signing from Swiss side FC Sion. The Swiss league has been known to produce some talented players through the years and Fernandes has shone in the league.
He comes from a line of Fernandes’, with relatives Gelson, Manuel and Cabrel all playing or played professionally.
The Swiss league is known to be quite slow but very effective on counter attacking. Quick decisions and speed is something you need to succeed in the Premier League and this is something Fernandes will need to work on.
Alvaro Arbeloa, a free transfer, and record-signing Andre Ayew have no real excuses, having both played over 30 games in the Premier League for Liverpool and Swansea respectively.
The solution with the West Ham team is time. The squad has a variety of cultures and playing styles. Every new player needs to adapt to the league but it helps when the rest of the team have the experience around you.
At the moment, half of the squad has no real Premier League experience to make an impact in games. If you look at the line-ups in the past four defeats, how many players have over 50 top-flight appearances in England to their name? Payet, Lanzini, Ogbonna and Antonio also do not fall in that category, which is where the problem lies. Mark Noble, Winston Reid, Cheikhou Kouyate and Adrian are the only players fit enough in the team that can boast Premier League experience.
The transfer window was used to build a European squad, but when we were knocked out of the competition on 25th August our transfer targets should have been readdressed with immediate effect, and releasing players on loan who didn’t fit the schedule anymore.
The window had been good in getting some players with great attributes, but to stay in the Premier League you need experienced Premier League players. This is why our team are not united on the field; it’s because they are too inexperienced. When you think of the players we could have signed who would have suited the Premier League better, we wouldn’t be in this position.
West Ham are playing a Europa League team in their Premier League fixtures this season. The players need to adapt, but time is not on our side at the moment. When we have Andy Carroll, Aaron Cresswell, Diafra Sakho and Andre Ayew back with the first team, it would greatly improve our chances of getting three points.
We’re going through some tough times, Hammers fans, the best we can do is hope for a top ten finish and a cup run, so let’s get behind the players to push us over the line in the toughest period during Slaven Bilic’s reign.
Early days yet, but in Slav I trust.