It was widely reported when the January transfer window opened that the hierarchy at Upton Park were only prepared to sanction loan deals.
The question is, did they make any real difference to the club?
The first deal to be completed was that of defender Roger Johnson, who signed from Wolves until the end of the campaign. Having fallen out of favour at Molineux, he was suffering from a lack of match fitness, but Allardyce needed him to cover one of the defensive spots at the Etihad Stadium and for a player that has not played regular football for a considerable amount of time he didn’t perform too badly. He then featured in three consecutive games and maintained a similar level of performance.
As Allardyce started to get some of his regular players back, Johnson was dropped to the bench. It was only when James Collins suffered a calf injury in the home win against Hull that he featured again and helped the Hammers avoid a fourth straight defeat.
It was well known that the Irons were suffering from a lack of strikers. Running out of options, the club confirmed a deal to bring Carlton Cole back but, as he wasn’t match fit, Big Sam was on the hunt for further reinforcements. His search took him to Italy where he had managed to clinch a double swoop for Roma’s Marco Borriello and AC Milan’s Antonio Nocerino.
Nocerino was immediately thrown in to the matchday squad for the teams’ trip to Chelsea four days later and he came on for the final ten minutes of the goalless draw. He looked a promising prospect and added power to the midfield.
Nocerino featured as a substitute against Swansea when he was brought on in place of Kevin Nolan for the final three minutes of the 2-0 win. He then went on to make a further six appearances from the bench and he was also given two starts in the away matches against Stoke City and Arsenal. Unfortunately for West Ham these matches both ended in defeat, making it safe to say that Nocerino didn’t make any great waves in East London.
Borriello’s first appearance came against Aston Villa. Though the Hammers won the game 2-0, Borriello failed to make much of an impact. Despite this, for the next home fixture against Norwich City, Cole and Borriello were again given a half each. West Ham also won the match 2-0 but there was bad news for the Italian striker as he suffered a calf injury and was ruled out for the rest of the season.
Allardyce boosted his squad by bringing in two further players; former Manchester City midfielder Abdul Rasak, who only featured in a couple of run outs for the Development Squad and proved to be a complete waste of money, and Colombian international defender Pablo Armero.
Armero arrived from Napoli but he didn’t feature until March where he played the final seven minutes of the 3-1 defeat at Stoke City.
Although West Ham secured top-flight safety, the loanees played little part in achieving this goal, so it might have been more cost-effective to include some of the younger players as backup, rather than spend a lot of time and money recruiting new personnel that had very little game time or impact on the eventual outcome.
Johnson never let the side down in difficult circumstances but the club is overstocked with central defenders. Armero on the other hand hardly seems a natural acquisition for next season.
What West Ham fans have had reconfirmed, however, is that Ravel Morrison is a quality player after impressing on loan with QPR. The club needs to decide whether to integrate him properly into the team or cash in.
Let’s hope its the former.