West Ham’s manager search is in full swing and several names are constantly being linked with the vacant Boleyn Ground post.
But whoever we appoint is always going to be a gamble. With just one season left before we move to the Olympic Stadium it’s important we keep our Premier League status.
That’s going to be an even more difficult task with Europa League football to contend with as well, so whoever gets the job is going to have one hell of a job on their hands.
I thought it’d be interesting to see how the managers we’ve been linked with fared as our boss in Football Manager.
So far we’ve seen Slaven Bilic lead us to fifth in the Premier League and Marcelo Bielsa get sacked at the end of the season after only just avoiding relegation.
So now we move on to the next manager who is reportedly in talks with the club – Unai Emery.
As I did with the first two managers, the following changes were made using the game’s editor to ensure it was as ‘realistic’ as possible…
- Removed out of contract players and staff who have already left the club over the last few weeks
- Set the club’s transfer budget to £25m to go inline with reports and David Sullivans claims of one or two big name signings this summer
- Darren Randolph has been added to the squad because we’ve signed him already
- Added us to the first qualifying round of the Europa League as a seeded team
- Did the necessary promotions and relegations in the Premier League
So, here’s how Emery got on…
The Spaniard didn’t mess about and addressed the right-back issue following the departure of Carl Jenkinson and Guy Demel by signing Gokhan Gonul from Fenerbahce, and then following that up with the capture of Jonjo Shelvey.
Then Emery brought in another right-back – Sparta Prague’s Pavel Kaderabek – to end his season’s transfer business.
Winston Reid was the subject of a transfer tug-of-war between Benfica, Everton, Swansea and Crystal Palace. Obviously he chose to go abroad and try his luck at Portugal, opting to sign for Benfica for £4.6million.
Reece Burke went on a month’s loan to Middlesbrough in March, but other than that there were no other departures as Emery chose to keep as big a squad as possible.
Emery went with a 4-4-1-1 formation, with Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho rotating as the lone striker.
Mauro Zarate, Jonjo Shelvey and Stewart Downing all rotated the number 10 role.
It was a tactic that was used throughout the entire season, with direct style and a balanced mentality.
(The above screenshot was taken after a game and therefore has an XI that wouldn’t normally play, with it automatically selecting the the most ‘match fit’ players at that given time. This is just to show you the formation as an example)
Emery achieved the expectations asked of him by the board and cruised in to the group stages, but being the third seed (pot 3 of 4) meant the draw was always going to be difficult.
Dnipro and FC Kobenhavn cruised through to the knock-out stages, while the Hammers finished comfortably in third after winning just two games.
Capital One Cup
The board told Emery he wouldn’t be judged on his performance in the League Cup, which is just as well after his side crashed out in the fourth round to Arsenal.
HE WON THE FA CUP! Quite amazingly, Emery ended the club’s 30+ year wait for a major trophy in true style.
As you can see from the results above, the Hammers recorded a famous FA Cup victory over Spurs, albeit via a replay, and then cruised all the way in to the final by seeing off Reading, Ipswich and Southampton.
Jonjo Shelvey gave the Hammers a 74th minute lead against Man City in the final, but were forced to in to extra-time and penalties after Yaya Toure levelled seven minutes later.
Amazingly, Kevin Nolan was the man to slot home the winning penalty in the shoot-out.
Emery’s performance in the league was nothing short of atrocious.
The Hammers ended the season just two points above the drop zone after a string of poor runs throughout the campaign.
The worst run came between November and the beginning of January, which saw the club go nine games without a win, eight of which were draws!
But Emery did guide the Hammers to a famous league double over Chelsea, which softened the blow of what was a disappointing league campaign…
Aaron Cresswell was the squad’s best performing player with a rating of 7.44. Andy Carroll did register a rating for 7.45, but he only played three games all season, so he doesn’t really count.
Enner Valencia led the scoring charts with 22 goals in all competitions, with Diafra Sakho not far behind him with 21. Jonjo Shelvey enjoyed an impressive debut season at the club by scoring 12 goals from midfield.
Joey O’Brien, surprisingly enough, had the highest win ratio (51% of 35 appearances) in the squad, despite dropping down to the third in the pecking order after seeing two other right-back’s being signed in the summer.
Reece Burke broke in to the first team with 11 first team appearances, while the most disappointing player of the campaign was new arrival Gokhan Gonul, who had just a 39% win ratio and an average rating of just 6.84.
A 42% win ratio isn’t a bad return for a manager, but the truth is that Emery came very close to the sack on a number of occasions throughout the season.
Despite scoring 99 goals in all competitions, the club conceded 88 and therefore wasn’t tight enough at the back for the boards liking, which in turn cost the club so many points throughout the campaign.
That said, the fans always believed he was still the man to take the club forward…
Paolo Di Canio even piped up and called for the owners to give Emery more time to make a difference at the club.
In the end, Emery only kept his job at the club because he won the FA Cup and subsequently secured Europa League football for the following season, which would also mean going straight in to the group stages.
With a new stadium and much shorter pre-season ahead, you’d expect Emery would’ve gone on to have a much more successful second season.
Miss the first two experiments? You can catch up here…
Keep an eye out for our final FM15 instalment tomorrow, featuring Frank de Boer