In a complete reversal of the club’s fortunes from last season, West Ham successfully saw out the first half of the 2014/15 campaign as one of the surprise hits of the new Premier League season.
The Hammers were offering an entertainment value that could have rivalled most teams in the league at the time – with quick-moving plays across the pitch as well of a whole new brand of football that largely kept proceedings down on the deck with great style.
There were even claims that Big Sam had somehow managed to restore the somewhat over-hyped ‘West Ham Way’ with wins over the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City, yet as life in the Premier League rarely goes according to plan from a claret & blue perspective, trouble was seemingly waiting patiently around the corner.
Since Christmas, West Ham have been a mere shadow of their former selves. The likes of Alex Song and Stewart Downing have seen their individual performances dip significantly since the turn of the year, Andy Carroll has once again been ruled out with a season ending injury, and with a few crucial refereeing decisions failing to go against the team in recent outings – Sam Allardyce has seen his side simply fail to replicate their form of just a few months back.
In light of all this drama, the Hammers took part in an extremely quiet January transfer window – and aside from the free signing of 33-year-old Nene last month – failed to bring in any meaningful new faces to help the club’s cause. With all that’s seemingly gone wrong for the team since Christmas, just how costly has the club’s lack of winter spending been for West Ham?
Whilst it is all too easy to criticize the two Daves for their distinct inactivity this January, it must be remembered that the club and its fans paid witness to one of the most successful transfer windows throughout the summer months leading up to the start of the season. In hindsight, it comes as no real surprise that the team managed to perform so well at the beginning of the 2014/15 campaign thanks to the magnitude of new faces that helped the team turn the corner from the boredom and stagnation that largely made up last season.
Having said that however, it remains equally surprising that the chairman didn’t learn from this earlier success and apply the same spending principles throughout the January window as well. West Ham are a club who are certainly not made of money – but as this season started out as the club’s best chance to better its fortunes in the run up to our first season in the Olympic Stadium – it comes as a slight disappointment that the chairmen didn’t follow up on their ambition shown throughout the summer.
The Hammers let go of Mauro Zarate (albeit on loan to QPR), Ricardo Vaz Te and Ravel Morrison across the winter window without sourcing any new faces to fill the open void. Nene has obviously since come in to make up the numbers at Upton Park, but as his signing certainly seems like more of an afterthought than anything else, West Ham really could have come away with more than their solitary Brazilian. Andy Carroll’s injury record must have also come up in regards to bringing in new faces this January, yet it seems the club seemingly crossed their fingers and hoped for the best for the rest of the season.
West Ham were also in desperate need of another centre-back even at the tail end of the summer window, as with James Collins and Winston Reid both picking up frustratingly timed injuries across the Christmas period, Big Sam’s side were somehow placed in a similar position to last season with the lack of available centre-backs.
Perhaps this lack of activity has taken place because of a bigger issue surrounding the club, however. As Sam Allardyce has hardly received a great deal of backing over his proposed new contract at the end of the 2014/15, maybe transfer plans are seemingly being put on hold until a new manger has been appointed by the club. Whilst several would greet Big Sam’s potential departure as great news for Hammers, it does seemingly leave the rest of West Ham’s season feeling somewhat futile as a result.
Whatever the cause for such a quiet January transfer window – let’s hope our season can end in some style with this disappointing run of results hopefully behind Sam Allardyce and the rest of the team.