As you may recall I wrote an article just after David Moyes was announced as the replacement to our beloved Slaven Bilic stating the removal of my financial investment in the club.
I’ve sat back taking in a spectator’s view watching how West Ham have done and now I’m breaking my silence as the transfer window has re-opened this month.
In David Moyes’ first four games at the club, he picked up one point and the club had scored two goals. Despite the losses you could see an improvement in the performances and the squad was a lot fitter. Since those four winless games, the club have lost one in seven – that loss coming at home against Newcastle.
One significant improvement in the team was the home game against West Brom, that result was the first time in a year that West Ham had conceded first and gone on to win the game. Bilic had obtained three clean sheets in September and in the same amount of Premier League games, Moyes has overseen three clean sheets.
I feel that the players had cheated Bilic at the start of the season and the change in personnel is a bit of a smokescreen to convince us fans that the team has improved massively.
What exactly has changed since Moyes has taken over, though? We’ve won more points, scored more goals kept the same amount of clean sheets – all with the same players and tactics. West Ham fans have been fooled and let down by the same amount of players that put us in the relegation fight in the first place.
A two-week fitness camp under Moyes’ watchful eye is the reason behind our form but, let’s face it, if Bilic hired a better fitness coach and a defensive coach the team would have performed exactly the same.
The season so far…
- West Ham have scored 25 goals this season, averaging 9.9 shots per game – they currently sit 9th the goal scoring table.
- The Hammers score 1.1 goals per game and the majority of goals come from inside the penalty area. Interestingly, 66% of West Ham goals have been from right footed shots.
- West Ham’s average possession per game is 47.1% – which is the same as bottom club Swansea City.
- West Ham are the worst disciplined club in the league, picking up 51 yellow cards and two reds.
- Defensively, West Ham make 15.8 tackles, 10 fouls and 12.2 interceptions per game – two less than Everton and Crystal Palace.
- West Ham make 10.8 dribbles per game, with Masuaku contributing 37% of those.
- West Ham make the most crosses in the Premier League, averaging 2.8 per game.
- West Ham are the 6th worst club in terms passes per game, averaging 380 passes, 37 less than West Brom. Interestingly 257.5 passes per game have been accurate short passes and 37.5 passes per game have been accurate long passes – the third best in the league behind Tottenham and Brighton.
- West Ham are the most fouled team in the league with 13 fouls and free kicks given per game.
- West Ham have conceded 40 goals, mostly from open play (23) and are the worst at defending counter attacks.
One thing that is really winding me up is this sudden praise of ‘King’ Arthur Masuaku’s performances on the pitch under David Moyes. What exactly has he done?
Since he arrived in August 2016, his market value hasn’t changed. In Bilic’s 13 games this season, he scored a last minute wonder goal against Bolton in the Carabao Cup and assisted in the last minute of a 3-2 defeat to Spurs at home and a 1-0 last minute home win against Swansea City. It’s also worth mentioning that his assists this term have not been from starting a game, but coming on as a sub in the last 10-15 minutes.
Under Moyes, he has offered nothing but pace and skill down the left hand side playing in the same position Bilic played him. His best game was when he played the full game in a 1-0 home win against Chelsea. His two other MOTM performances have come from two losses against Arsenal and Newcastle.
Masuaku can dribble – average 3.5 dribbles per game – and has lots of pace but for a player being used in an attacking role, his aerial ability (0.8 duels won per game), key passes (0.6 per game) crossing and defensive contributions (2 tackles per game) are all below average. He is in the team because of his dribbling success rate, but the team needs to have someone that can offer more than just dribbling down the left.
What do West Ham need to do this season?
- To create more goal scoring opportunities from outside of the box.
- To keep possession of the ball more by making more short passes and creating space.
- To take advantage of free-kicks better.
- To improve discipline.
- To improve defending; we concede too many goals from set-pieces and counter-attacks.
Who do West Ham need to buy in January?
There has been a lot of talk of Jonjo Shelvey joining his boyhood club from Newcastle United in a £12m deal. He does offer a lot of creativity by being a free-kick and set piece specialist as well as providing a goal threat from long distance.
His weaknesses are mainly defensive but this is because he is more of an attacking central midfielder than a holding midfielder like Mark Noble. His discipline is also questionable but he is worth the risk of a yellow card during games because of his on-the-ball threat.
He is very good with the ball at his feet and has exceptional long passing range – with the Hammers already one of the highest successful long ball passers in the league, this could make us more dominant in this area. I’m in favour of Shelvey over a foreign export because he is a typical West Ham type player – nothing flash or fancy, but passionately driven.
With the support of the fans, a fan base he is a part of, he could be a fantastic signing and could eclipse Scott Parker’s achievements at the club.
Scoring goals hasn’t really been a problem this year, it has been conceding them instead. We have Chicharito, Andy Carroll, Michail Antonio, Marko Arnautovic and the prospect of Toni Martinez but, at the back, we have a slow and tired defence that get caught out by pacey wingers and outmuscled by aerial threats from set-pieces.
The team needs a strong and pacey centre-back who can relieve the pressure from Angelo Ogbonna and Winston Reid. Declan Rice will be a mainstay next season and with the guidance of James Collins and Jose Fonte he’ll be a regular, but with Ogbonna looking to go back to Italy to see out his career, the club need to get a left-footed centre-back who can replace him.
Alfie Mawson is the ideal player for West Ham and is needed now to form a formidable defence for the remainder of the season. Mawson could play in a back three in the left-central position. His presence will allow Reid, Collins and Ogbonna to rotate and get much needed rest to avoid injury. Mawson is a player that warrants Swansea’s valuation and must be bought immediately.
I’d be happy with these two signings if they’re the only ones to come in this month.
If Diafra Sakho goes then he needs to be replaced and maybe we’ll see Daniel Sturridge come in on loan until the end of the season. If Andre Ayew is sold then I’d expect Josh Cullen to be promoted into his role and the money can be used for the summer to further improve the team.
With Joe Hart’s loan ending this summer and Adrian’s contract expiring, the club would most likely have to spend big to get a solid goalkeeper in the summer. With Stoke’s Premier League days nearing to an end as each game passes, Jack Butland could be the major priority signing this summer and the Ayew income would help with that.
Whether Moyes will be in charge for the start of next season is still debatable but I don’t think he will be, and a major name will replace him in the summer. After all, Roberto Mancini, Carlo Ancelotti, Ronald Koeman and Rafa Benitez all rejected West Ham because nobody wants to take a job halfway through the season – it hinders their managerial preparations and these managers need a full pre-season to prove their quality.
There are my ‘back-seated’ thoughts and I look forward to your comments below.
Until the summer, I’ll write again soon.